Author Topic: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ?  (Read 10795 times)
Ash
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Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « on: December 14, 2016, 05:15:04 PM » Author: Ash
I need a circuit breaker once in a while for the occasional electrical job. There are many brands and models out there, from which i am trying to find out which are the better ones

So, i am asking about personal preferences, thougths, experiences, and why

Question is about European MCB's, but everyone is welcome to participate



What we got here :

Siemens
Were my all time favorites with the 5SQ, then 5SX, and finally 5SL series. Used to be common. But it looks like they are not widely available anymore, so i am looking at alternatives

ABL/Sursum
They are quite rare (unlike Siemens, which were common here in the past), but some places appear to have stock of NOS ones, especially the 3 pole types. The few i bought out of interest feel like a great quality product

Legrand
They are quite rare. Seen them occasionally in panels

ABB
Very common, both in the past and now. The current models available are S20xM and SH20x, with 10kA+various little features / 6kA+only the basic breaker respectively. The latest ones appear to be made of different Plastic material, which is same as Schneider and Eaton, not the Phenolic that ABB used to be made of in the past

Schneider / Merlin Gerin
Not common nowadays, but the Multi9 ones were installed pretty much everywhere back in the 90s. Currently available model iK60N. Made in various random places on the planet, not in the EU anymore

Eaton / Moeller / F&G
Moderately common, under all their names - Eaton (now), Moeller (previously), and Felten&Guilleaume (before that). The current model available is FAZ6, though i seen older ones of the FAZ series too in some panels

Hager
They are quite rare. Seen them occasionally in panels

GE
They are quite rare. Seen them occasionally in panels

Chint
Very common. As i understand it, those are "best of the Chinese" ones. Dont know how they compare to the rest above...

Various cheap breakers for 2..3 US$ / 2..3 Euros
Very common. Not much to say about them OR to expect from them, only thing i can say for sure is i dont consider them legit for a device which is supposed to reliably protect you...


« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 05:24:09 PM by Ash » Logged
sol
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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #1 on: December 14, 2016, 07:56:55 PM » Author: sol
I like Siemens also.

In Europe, can you mix and match circuit breakers in any breaker box ? Here in North America, you're pretty much stuck with the brand of the panel. A Siemens breaker won't fit in a Square D panel, for instance.

Speaking of Square D, I like them as well as they have a bright fluorescent orange indicator that flips behind a viewing window when it trips. Makes it easier to find tripped ones.
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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #2 on: December 15, 2016, 01:46:44 AM » Author: Ash
In Europe panels the rail on which the breakers clip is only a mounting part, not a current carrying part. In some (panels made entirely of Steel) it is made of Steel and Earthed through the panel body, in some (panels with Plastic body) it is made of Steel and not connected to anything, and in some (cheap ones) the rail itself is made of Plastic

The rail is standard, so you can use whatever you want. None of the panels have any "list of compatible breakers" to them

The Phase in connection to a row of breakers is done (when done correctly) with a sort of Copper comb (busbar with fins), which you cut to size (number of breakers) and plug into the breaker terminals, so each fin acts as the input wire to the breaker. On one of the breakers you also insert the supplying wire to the row in the same terminal. The width of 1 breaker "unit" is set in standards, but breakers of different models are somewhat different in height and depth, so the position of the screw terminal in them is different. To have the terminals of all breakers in line (so you can insert the comb), the breakers in the row must be uniform

If you come to replace a breaker in an existing panel, use the one of the same model so it can fit on the comb

If you add a new one, usually it won't be on the comb anyway (because the comb was cut to the existing number of breakers), so you connect the new one with a jumper wire, and then it does not have to match

If you do more extensive panel refurbishing, you use matching ones and put in a new comb if needed

Many of the breakers come with option for attachments : Additional tripping mechanism (electromagnetic "puller" that connects to the breaker's internal mechanics, you give it power and it trips the breaker. Usefull for implementing "emergency stop" buttons for example), trip indicator (additional low current contact which connects mechanically and opens/closes along with the breaker. Usefull to light up a signal in a remote place to notify of a tripped breaker). Those attachments can only be fitted to a breaker of the compatible model

Most breakers dont provide any option to see what tripped, and dont trip to a "3rd position" either, they trip straight to OFF. As most breakers are of light Grey color and handles are of darker colors, it is noticable straight away which one is down, but not distinguishable from one that was switched off manually
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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #3 on: December 15, 2016, 03:11:53 PM » Author: Roi_hartmann
Personally I like ABB's MCBs and RCDs and use them if there is no any particular reason to use other ones. Those are most easiest one to change to another one without removing whole busbar. GEs, hager, siemens and schneider aren't bad either
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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #4 on: December 19, 2016, 12:10:53 PM » Author: AngryHorse
Schneider are common here, our next biggest make is Hager, although most of our DB at work are Square D QOEs, (now obsolete), but the Square D KQs can still be gotten hold of, albeit made by Schneider now.
Another long established UK make are WYLEX.

My own DB at home is Square D QOEs, but my preference would have to be WYLEXs PSB series, as you can get pretty much all sizes and RCBOs off the shelf at wholesale, without having to order them.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 12:14:53 PM by AngryHorse » Logged

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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #5 on: December 21, 2016, 03:26:16 PM » Author: Ash
Clicking a Schneider in hands right now...

Its got what feels like instantaneous make (at switch on), same as the old Merlin Gerin Multi 9 ones, which is nice. However, i had to dig through few shops to find a couple (and even there it was in the misc random singles box), so i cant see this becoming my choice to build something with

The Square D ones have special pin bases for some proprietary panel, i am not looking for any of that. Just DIN rail gear with ordinary wire in/wire out connectors, into which a wire or a terminal comb can be installed



Wylex (from pictures in Google) look like a simplified version of Siemens 5SY (same detail, some features here or there added or removed), so i asume they are in fact the same breakers as the Siemens. Never seen a 5SY here, but lots of 5SQ, some 5SX and 5SL

My home was built with some unknown MCBs originally. Which i tripped many times as kid... At some point i thought that perhaps i allready abused them too much (as in burned contacts inside from all those short circuits) and replaced them with Siemens 5SL's



RCBOs are not normally used here. Instead, separate component RCDs and MCBs are interconnected as needed



If we narrow down to things that are available here now, its ABL/Sursum (partially : Huge stocks of NOS at the suppliers, but not in all ratings), Hager, ABB and Eaton (well, and various cheapies which are out of the question)

Any thoughts about any of those ?
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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #6 on: December 22, 2016, 04:36:36 AM » Author: AngryHorse
Eaton are rare here, but I have seen the odd one dotted about, ABB you only tend to see as the big incomers, like a 200 amp moulded case circuit breaker, although our local wholesale has just started to stock the din rail smaller ones.
The main choice for electricians and electrical contractors here though is mostly Hager.

We have one board at work thats Dorman Smith, this was a big name here in the 1960s, but you don`t tend to see many now, did Dorman Smith ever reach Israel?

As for RCBOs, I`m a big fan of them, especially where you need to use them in 3 phase boards that don`t usually have separate RCD protection, my only complaint is the silly high cost of them!, but then again their convenient where maximum protection is needed.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2016, 04:44:53 AM by AngryHorse » Logged

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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #7 on: December 22, 2016, 05:49:53 PM » Author: Ash
Israel's wiring was fuses in the 60s



This is (if without all the mess added around) what a board in an Israeli flat in the 60s looked like :



MCBs came in the 70s (maybe like the very end of the 60s), straight in the modern Grey (or back then, sometimes Beige) color on the DIN rail. None of the Black stuff with wider modules. (or so i thought, before seeing a couple Black Square D's in a panel in a friend's air raid shelter, but i have not seen any similar ones anywhere else)

From the vintage ones :

 - Citomat75 - Made in Israel by Citor

 - Elco - Made in Israel by Elco (nowadays VonRoll)

 - Sursum

 - AEG

 - Geyer

 - Kopp (sometimes rebranded as Tadiran)

 - Stotz Kontact (branded "BBC", those eventually became what is ABB today). Seen also a Stotz that plugs into a 15A fuse base

 - Siemens

 - Weber

 - Clem

And many others with missing lables (paper labels were common back then), or manufacturer logos without name which i cant recognise

Looked in Google Images what Dorman Smith is like. The Black ones - No, have not had those. The modern looking ones are rebranded ABB's. And have not had this brand name on any other stuff either



I prefer separate MCB and RCD over RCBO

Why :



In RCBOs i can find today, the differential part is Electronic

 - With a broken upstream Neutral, the voltage across Phase/Neutral going through the RCBO is 0. The electronics dont have supply voltage. Output is at full 230V to Earth, you can go get your hair design there, and the thing wont trip

 - In (some ?) RCBOs the electronics remain connected across the load side terminals after it is switched off or trips. i can imagine an RCBO self destruct simply by tripping with some big inductive load connected

 - Electronics can die or malfunction from other factors, and there is way more posible trouble compared to reliable electrmechanics



And then simply cost...

At initial install time

After a few "big" Phase/Neutral short circuits, if they are anywhere in the kA range, the MCB is getting damaged. And it would be good idea to replace it. But why replace the differential part too if it is good ? If the shorts were not to Earth, then a separate RCD would not trip on them, so its condition would remain good as new..

 - It does not take much to get to this situation. It takes a short circuit happening once for some reason + an idiot who resets breakers Wild West style ("BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG click")

 - With electronic loads (anything from ballasts to multimedia), things do fail and when they fail, they tend to short the power line across Phase/Neutral sometimes. Not "big" short circuits (probably in the couple 100's A range max), but think how much of those a breaker might go through in a place like a big lighting circuit or a server room over many years

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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #8 on: December 22, 2016, 07:22:33 PM » Author: ace100w120v
Here, brands like Siemens, Square D, and General Electric are common.  Westinghouse too, though more in the past I think.  Theirs would trip in the "middle" so it was easy to find a tripped one, not one that was just off, since in industrial place sometimes breakers get used as switches in panels for turning major things on and off.
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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #9 on: December 22, 2016, 07:34:40 PM » Author: AngryHorse
Yeah, thats a fair point, also that old fuse board looks very similar to UK 1950/60s ones, the oldest one I have seen was not a `box` as such, but just a bakerlite plate with fuses screwed to it!, and all the wiring being open at the back!
We did have early breakers, but used in industrial circuits first, (well before houses got them), it was the mid 80s when the first MCBs came out for household use.
Its interesting that ours and your electrical systems are similar, must be due to us being on higher voltages than the US are.

Back in the 50 and 60s, everything here was radial circuits, and single floor houses, (or bungalows), as their called here, (not sure what you call them in Israel), could have as many as 12 fuses in the board back then!!!!, compared to the 3 or 4 MCBs they have today!
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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #10 on: December 22, 2016, 07:40:11 PM » Author: AngryHorse
Here, brands like Siemens, Square D, and General Electric are common.  Westinghouse too, though more in the past I think.  Theirs would trip in the "middle" so it was easy to find a tripped one, not one that was just off, since in industrial place sometimes breakers get used as switches in panels for turning major things on and off.
Thats interesting, I wouldn`t have thought Square D would be in the US, I`ve always known it as an Irish company here, what were the circular coloured fuses you guys use to use?, I`ve never seen anything like that here! :)
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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #11 on: December 22, 2016, 09:53:01 PM » Author: Aveoguy22
heres our fuse box in my place.  probably from the mid-50s
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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #12 on: December 22, 2016, 10:10:49 PM » Author: icefoglights
Most major manufacturers of load centers in the US have two lines.  Their "basic" line which is often mostly standardized, where beakers from any manufacturer can fit any brand load center.  For example a Square D "Homeline" breaker would fit in a Siemens box.  Their "Premium" load centers are often proprietary, and often have certain enhancements over the standard.  They often have more robust buss bar connections, and lower profile breakers.  Square D's QO also has a fluorescent orange indicator that shows when a breaker is tripped, making it easier to identify tripped breakers.  However, they are manufacturer specific, meaning a Cutler-Hammer breaker won't fit in a QO panel or visa versa.

Edison base plug fuses used to be used for branch circuits, while cartridge fuses would be for larger double-pole loads.  A typical home fuse box might have 6 plug fuses for branch circuits, and two 2-pole cartridge fuse holders, with one being for an electric range and one being for an electric clothes dryer.  A safety problem with plug fuses is that there was nothing to enforce using the right size fuse.  If a 15 amp circuit was overloaded and kept blowing the 15 amp fuse, it was easy to just screw in a 20 or 30 amp fuse in it's place.  Another method of bypassing a burned out fuse was to screw in a penny behind the blown fuse.  Later came along a safety fuse system that included barbed socket adapters that would screw into fuse socket and could not be removed, and would enforce the use of the proper size fuse.  A 20 amp fuse would not fit in the adapter for a 15 amp fuse, or visa versa.  There are also screw in circuit breakers that fit in place of a plug fuse.
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Re: Favorite Circuit Breaker brands and models ? « Reply #13 on: December 23, 2016, 04:24:00 AM » Author: AngryHorse
Here is an old Wylex fuse board, (common to the UK), shown here, of cica 1970s, with both its original fuses, and the later MCBs that Wylex introduced in the 80s for retrofit.
They had a `carrying plate` that you couldn`t fit a larger fuse to than the plate size, (however this didn`t stop you putting a bigger fuse wire in the fuse itself)! if the 15 amp scenario you mention came up!!
Thanks for the pics Aveoguy22, funny enough I first saw these in a X-box 360 game!!!, I thought it was `made up`, until I googled it and realized they DID exist in real life!
« Last Edit: December 23, 2016, 04:31:34 AM by AngryHorse » Logged

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