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Half width breakers


Chris Bernhardt
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According to "Electrical inspection of existing dwellings", it stated that half width breakers should only be used where indicated on the panel board enclosure wiring diagram. Does anyone check to see if the instalation of half width breakers for a particular panel is allowed?

I sometimes see half width breakers taking up a 220V slot in the upper half of older panels. Ignoring whether or not half width breakers are even allowed there, does the configuration in the fotos count as one hand movement or two? On the practical side of things I can easily shut off the grouped breakers in one hand movement although it takes two to turn them back on.

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Chris, Oregon

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Yes, I check to see if the tandem breakers are allowed in a particular panel. I'm not too concerned about the location of the tandem according to the panel diagram, but whether too many total breakers are installed.

I would consider the quad breaker in the pic as two hand movements, installed in the upper section of that split bus panel (2 40 volt section)

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

According to "Electrical inspection of existing dwellings", it stated that half width breakers should only be used where indicated on the panel board enclosure wiring diagram. Does anyone check to see if the instalation of half width breakers for a particular panel is allowed?

Yes.

I sometimes see half width breakers taking up a 220V slot in the upper half of older panels. Ignoring whether or not half width breakers are even allowed there, does the configuration in the fotos count as one hand movement or two?

Two.

On the practical side of things I can easily shut off the grouped breakers in one hand movement although it takes two to turn them back on.

Chris, Oregon

Heck, I can shut off 12 breakers with one hand movement. Each breaker is still considered one movement of the hand.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by StevenT

The handle ties are designed to insure that if one side of the circuit trips, the other will also.

That depends on the breaker. The handle ties alone only ensure that the breakers can be disconnected simultaneously. Simultaneous tripping requires a common internal trip.

For instance, a straight 240-volt circuit such as you'd find on an electric water heater only requires a common disconnect. If you take two single-pole breakers and install an approved handle tie, that's good enough.

However, a 120/240-volt circuit such as you'd find on an electric clothes dryer requires a common *trip*, not just a common disconnect. For this, you'd need to buy a 2-pole breaker with a common internal trip mechanism.

I'm not near my code books tonight, but I believe the reference is somewhere near 240.20.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by chicago

This is out of my league.Can anyone explain for this dummy what a quad breaker is used in conjunction with.

The breakers in Chris's picture are half size. Each one only takes up half the space of a normal breaker. You use these when you've run out of room in a panel.

If you want to use these to feed a 240-volt circuit, however, there's a problem; a single pair of these breakers originates from only one pole so you can't get 240-volts out of them. To solve this problem, manufacturers make quad breakers. These have 4 half-sized breakers that, when installed, get their power from two poles. So the top two breakers are on one pole and the bottom two on another. To get 240-volts, you use the top and bottom breaker to feed one circuit and the two middle breakers to feed another.

Make sense?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I was going to ask why use four halve size when they take up as much room as two regular sized breakers but you did state it was for two seperate circuits so that does explain it pretty clearly,Thank you.I have installed them back in ancient times and forgot all about the skinnies ,but early alzheimers will do that.

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All of those 1/2 size/quad/tandem/whatever breakers were supposed to be designed (in conjunction with the bus bars) to only be able to fit where the manufacturer intended them to. Unfortunately most of them did a lousy job at that, leaving the whole "git'r-done" world with easily defeated designs. The only exception I know of is GE. You cannot put their 1/2 sizers wherever you want, single or double pole.

Brian G.

He Who Designs Breakers the Worst Fits the Most Competitor's Panels [:-mischie

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Their electrical stuff used to be good, top to bottom. Light bulbs, panels and breakers, motors, motor controls, you name it. I have no idea what they're like now, but an appliance guy told me their washers and dryers were crap. Must've gotten to China too late to get the good workers. [:-dev3]

Brian G.

Thank God They Can't Import Home Inspections [;)]

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