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Thread: Square D breakers in GE panel

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
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    Knox County ME
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    Square D breakers in GE panel

    I know that only breakers recommended by the panel manufacturer should be used.

    I just discovered the electrician who added c. 20 breakers (new circuits) to my GE panel used SqD HOM breakers last year. The original breakers (10 years ago) are GE and fine. I have not had any issues with any of the new breakers, but that does not really mean anything.

    This is in a very rural area, not a town, no inspection, and effectively no code. I just don't want to be stupid and burn the house down.

    How important is it to change out all the new breakers? The electrician who did the work is not available or responsible, so I can't go after him.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2007
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    99% chance you'll have no problem.

    Unless you burn your house down with an electrical fire and your insurance company decides that the breakers are to blame (whether they had anything to do with it or not). Then they may not pay.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2007
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    I agree with Jay. Chances of that starting a fire are probably less then chances of a weak connection on a lug or breaker turning into a "glowing connection", and many of those just burn themselves out without spreading to other things, especially when it happens in a panel and there is no combustibles in the vicinity of such an event.

    I can not recall ever seeing a failure of a breaker/bus connection that one can clearly say was because of using wrong manufacturer's breaker. Seen many failures of breaker/bus connections where the two were listed to be used together also, but they almost always had some years of use and/or abuse when this happens. Even seen an I-Line breaker to bus failure - but when it is 45 or so years old before that happens it probably doesn't owe the owner anything anymore.

  4. #4
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    When I first started in earnest in 1999, I remember we used to use Homeline because they fit in everything. Now it seems like they all fit in everything.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2017
    Location
    Knox County ME
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    Thanks!

    I'll leave them as is.

    I'm adding two new circuits, and have specified to us GE breakers.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    SW Florida
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    If you are going to be opening the panel anyway, just change the Homeline breakers to the correct GE breakers, the cost of a breaker is minimal in the grand scheme of things.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Marlborough, Massachusetts USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpinetree View Post
    If you are going to be opening the panel anyway, just change the Homeline breakers to the correct GE breakers, the cost of a breaker is minimal in the grand scheme of things.

  8. #8
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    NE Nebraska
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpinetree View Post
    If you are going to be opening the panel anyway, just change the Homeline breakers to the correct GE breakers, the cost of a breaker is minimal in the grand scheme of things.
    Unless they are required to be AFCI's.

  9. #9
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    Jul 2006
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    San Francisco, CA, USA
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    First off, circuit breakers can only be UL Listed by testing them IN the panels they are designed to go with, which ultimately boils down to the same mfr. But years ago, mfrs started designing panels for residential use where the mounting and connections were virtually the same. We used to collectively refer to this type of breaker as "interchangeable"; you could plug a Bryant breaker into a Murray panel or a GE breaker into a Sylvania panel, as long as they were the same style of breaker. But some time in the 80s, a lot of field failures took place and in ensuing investigations it became clear that unless specifically tested, these mfr mismatches did not always perform as expected, then created a conflict in determining who's fault that was, the panel mfr, the breaker mfr or the person who did it.

    Since the lawyers only wanted to go after deep pockets, and it was unclear which mfr had the issue, a lot of homeowners insurance companies ended up holding the bag. That then prompted them to get UL involved, who came up with a new process by which otherwise UL listed breakers could also be "classified" to be used in some specific panels, so long as the BREAKER mfr tested them in those specific panels and listed those specific panels in their installation instructions. This system by the way NEVER includes "series ratings" for higher AICs, so if you are in an area that requires 22kAIC or higher, Classified Breakers are immediately eliminated as a possibility.

    So technically, if the specific panel that you are looking at is on the specific list of tested panels in the Classification certification of those Homeline breakers and 10kAIC is acceptable in your area, they are perfectly legal. If not, they are illegal. That level of detail is virtually ignored in the retail industry, because if a homeowner installs something themselves, they assume their own risks. Electrical Contractors however cannot ignore the liability associated with willy-nilly use of Classified breakers, just as we cannot ignore any other portion of the NEC, and the misuse of a Classified breaker would violate 110.3 no matter what.

    So now we come up against the kind of situation you are involved in; YOU did not originally install them, but now YOU have seen them, so does that then shift responsibility for investigating whether they are appropriately applied over to you? Good question. The SAFE BET, as others have said, is to just replace them, because the time and hassle to investigate them is worth more than the breakers themselves in most cases. But with smart phone access now, it might only take a minute or two to find and download the list of approved panels for Homeline breakers to find out. So that makes it a judgement call.

    Of course if you are in an area that requires more than 10kAIC, you don't need to bother checking, it's an automatic fail.
    Last edited by Jraef; 08-12-17 at 11:24 AM.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    NE Nebraska
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    32,607
    Quote Originally Posted by Jraef View Post
    First off, circuit breakers can only be UL Listed by testing them IN the panels they are designed to go with, which ultimately boils down to the same mfr. But years ago, mfrs started designing panels for residential use where the mounting and connections were virtually the same. We used to collectively refer to this type of breaker as "interchangeable"; you could plug a Bryant breaker into a Murray panel or a GE breaker into a Sylvania panel, as long as they were the same style of breaker. But some time in the 80s, a lot of field failures took place and in ensuing investigations it became clear that unless specifically tested, these mfr mismatches did not always perform as expected, then created a conflict in determining who's fault that was, the panel mfr, the breaker mfr or the person who did it.

    Since the lawyers only wanted to go after deep pockets, and it was unclear which mfr had the issue, a lot of homeowners insurance companies ended up holding the bag. That then prompted them to get UL involved, who came up with a new process by which otherwise UL listed breakers could also be "classified" to be used in some specific panels, so long as the BREAKER mfr tested them in those specific panels and listed those specific panels in their installation instructions. This system by the way NEVER includes "series ratings" for higher AICs, so if you are in an area that requires 22kAIC or higher, Classified Breakers are immediately eliminated as a possibility.

    So technically, if the specific panel that you are looking at is on the specific list of tested panels in the Classification certification of those Homeline breakers and 10kAIC is acceptable in your area, they are perfectly legal. If not, they are illegal. That level of detail is virtually ignored in the retail industry, because if a homeowner installs something themselves, they assume their own risks. Electrical Contractors however cannot ignore the liability associated with willy-nilly use of Classified breakers, just as we cannot ignore any other portion of the NEC, and the misuse of a Classified breaker would violate 110.3 no matter what.

    So now we come up against the kind of situation you are involved in; YOU did not originally install them, but now YOU have seen them, so does that then shift responsibility for investigating whether they are appropriately applied over to you? Good question. The SAFE BET, as others have said, is to just replace them, because the time and hassle to investigate them is worth more than the breakers themselves in most cases. But with smart phone access now, it might only take a minute or two to find and download the list of approved panels for Homeline breakers to find out. So that makes it a judgement call.

    Of course if you are in an area that requires more than 10kAIC, you don't need to bother checking, it's an automatic fail.
    But what if having the wrong breakers installed has caused excessive heating where they connect to the bus? Replacing with correct breakers but not the bus still leaves a compromised condition doesn't it?

    The electrician in me says what OP has is probably just fine.

    The salesman in me says better replace the entire panel and all the breakers

    I had two service calls yesterday both had failed bus to breaker connections. Both probably installed in 1980's. One was a Crouse-Hinds panel, with Crouse-Hinds breaker. The other was QO panel and QO breaker - but one of those they made back then that had aluminum bus which seem prone to such failures.

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