I have a GE service panel in my home that accepts both 1/2" and 1"
breakers. As I add circuits to this box, is there any advantage to
using 1" breakers over 1/2"? I'd rather use 1/2" since that will
allow me to add twice as many circuits. Obviously, there's the
potential to overload the box, but, for the sake of discussion, let's
assume that I'm smart enough not to do that.
I do not have a ge panel, but I know what mini-breakers(tandom) are.
The question that comes to mind before thinking about getting around
the limitations of your panel size is, do you have enough researve
You mentioned you are assuming you will not overload the box, but what
are you basing this on? Have you done a service calculation? Just
saying, if you are trying to cram more breakers in a 100 amp panel,
and you have a service calc of 95, you might want to bite the bullet
and upgrade to 200a.
So, can you add more?
tom @ www.FreelancingProjects.com
I have a GE panel. They are rated for being fully packed with those
1/2" breakers. They are not tandom breakers, they are individual 1/2"
breakers, or 1" wide 2 pole breakers.
The service load calculations are a totally separate issue.
Actually, some (maybe all, I don't know) only allow some of the breakers
locations to use the 1/2" units. On mine, which is 32 years old, 4 of
the locations cannot use the 1/2" breakers. The rest of the locations,
maybe 10 or 12 more can use either size. BTW, there are "double" GE
breakers that span the 2 buses (for 240 volt application) in both wide
(2 1" breakers) or narrow (2 1/2" breakers) and I have even seen a
double breaker with 2 individual breakers/handles that go on one bus for
2 separate 115 volt applications. They are 2 different animals.
The OP mented about not overloading the pannel, so I would check the
calc first before adding any new breakers for new branches.
So, IMHO it's not a seperate issue, but the first issue to address.
I threw in the comment about overloading the panel not out of concern
that I might inadvertantly do so, but in an attempt to minimize the
predictable rash of responses admonishing me:
1. not to use 1/2" breakers
2. leave it to a professional
3. just be satisfied with what I've got
4. [insert your favorite non-responsive bit of advice here]
It's not that I don't appreciate your valid concern, but that's not
what I asked.
Let me re-phrase the question: 1/2" and 1" are both available and my
GE load center will accept both. Is either one better (safer, more
reliable, etc.) than the other? 1/2" has a clear advantage over 1"
in that I can install a smaller box without sacrificing capacity. Do
1" breakers have any advantages over 1/2"? 'MC' pointed out that
"1/2 inch breakers will use a slightly less contact surface to the
main buss bar". Is this significant? Perhaps this holds true
internally as well? Presumably, these things would not be sold if
they didn't meet some industry accepted standard for safety.
Nevertheless, intuition tells me that there would be no market for
the size-disadvantaged 1" breakers if they provided no benefit over
According to GE, the 1/2" breakers do not have less contact area. I
believe they actually have slightly more contact area. (the contacts are
a different shape)
IIRC, the 1/2" breakers are not rated for 25000 amp interrupting
capability for industrial applications and the 1" breakers are. Also,
the 1/2" and 1" have different ratings when used in switch duty.
Neither of these differences should make any difference to a homeowner
99% of the time.
Also, the 1/2" breakers are only available up to 50A, and the 1" are
commonly available up to 60A -- and if you really look for them you can
find 70A and 100A 1" breakers.
The 1/2" breakers cost insignificantly more than equivalent 1" breakers.
My panel has mostly 1/2" GE breakers in it, and a few 1" breakers. The
top slot on each side of the panel will only accept 1" breakers. All
the other slots will take either size.
Find something else to worry about :-)
You can't put to many breakers in that panel. GE panels use "T" slots for
their mini breakers. Your panel will only have as many of these slots as
they want you to be able to install breakers. Some folks prefer full sized
breakers and some half. Use whatever you're comfortable with. At some point
if you install to many circuits in the panel for the size of the service,
your main breaker will trip letting you know it's time for a service
The GE 1/2 inch breakers will use a slightly less contact surface to the
main buss bar, I recommend keeping the usage to no more than 20amp services,
use the full size 1 inch breakers for larger loads.
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