Are Circuit Breakers of different brands interchangable

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I have an electrical panel with Square D breakers. They are duals, (2 breakers in one) 20 Amps each. One breaker is tripping from time to time for no reason that I can see and I want to replace it to see if that solves the problem. (I know I can swap two identical breakers to see what happens but read on....)
I see Cuttler Hammer dual breakers for sale on Ebay at a low price, makes it not worth the time to swap them..
Are the mechanical mounting and electrical connections standardized so that I can use Cutler Hammer breakers in a panel with Square D's?
I know I need to match the electrical ratings...
thanks
Mark
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Is that what CH standa for, colored handle?

How come you doubt it?
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Because it sounds like the panel in question is almost barely not overloaded... So if the panel is overpopulated it isn't that much of a stretch of the imagination that an individual circuit in such a panel is not likewise over capacity or suffering from voltage drop due to a longer run with a smaller incorrectly sized wire...
~~ Evan
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And aside from those words, what sense does the rest of it make? It's a long leap that because the guy says his panel has half size breakers it means that it's overloaded and that is causing the problem. I'd give the OP some credit for having the sense to rule that out. It's also not clear that all the breakers are half size, he could just mean the one in question is.
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In 40 years as an electrician, I get many calls where the customer has a tripping circuit breaker. It is very rare when the cause is a defective breaker. I will say, if the OP has Homeline split circuit breakers (half size 20-20) type, I've had instances where I've seen those breakers trip from vibrations near the panel

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On 5/11/2011 5:45 AM, RBM wrote:

In a business where breakers are being tripped, I go around asking which desks belong to women and I look under those desks. I'll bet you know what I find. ^_^
TDD
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Space heaters.
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On 5/11/2011 7:07 AM, Doug Miller wrote:

Bingo! I love it when they plug it into the battery backup power supply. I wind up fixing a computer that's been fed dirty power, repairing or replacing the battery backup unit and or associated power strips that have melted. Oh look, a receptacle, I can plug in my 1500 watt ceramic heater and keep my legs warm! o_O
TDD
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On Wed, 11 May 2011 06:17:12 -0500, The Daring Dufas

You dirty old man!
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Umm, no they are not, there are very few interchangeable circuit breakers out there... Circuit breakers are made to work with certain panels only, the ones they are listed for... There is much more to it than the amperage rating of the over current protection on the breaker...
The busbars in different panels are different sizes and thicknesses and spacings, therefore the socket that the various breakers have to accommodate the busbars in the panels they are listed for use in varies depending on the manufacturer and panel model line type...
Using an incorrect breaker for a panel might not be obvious as it will "sorta fit" but won't line up properly with the cutout in the panel cover, won't be in the proper amount of contact with the busbar and might not "clamp" into the panel properly...
Some questions for you are:
-- How many actual circuits are there in your panel ?
It sounds like you are pushing maximum occupancy limits if you have double-breakers (two circuits in a single-pole single space unit) in your panel...
-- Have you verified that the circuit is not in fact overloaded ?
The breaker might be working perfectly and tripping because of an overload condition even though you aren't aware that one is occurring...
-- Is one of the circuits in the double-breaker used close to its amperage capacity on a regular basis ?
Those neat-o double-breakers can get hot when they are used under full load constantly, and with twice the heat from twice the number of circuits inside the same space normally occupied by one breaker device, the smaller components of the two breaker mechanisms are more susceptible to being deformed under high load high heat conditions...
Your problem could even be from an overloaded circuit in an adjacent breaker which has malfunctioned and failed to trip which is causing one of the two circuits inside the double-breaker to nuisance trip from overheating...
~~ Evan
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MarkK wrote:

I don't think breakers trip with no reason unless it is defective. First thing I'd do is switch the load side wires around to see if problem changes. Then you can decide what to do.

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re: "I see Cuttler Hammer dual breakers for sale on Ebay at a low price, makes it not worth the time to swap them."
Huh? How long does it take to loosen 2 screws, swap the wires from one breaker to another and tighten the screws up again?
You could probably do that in less time than it takes to place the order on eBay.
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swap the two wires on two breakers and see if the failure follows the wire swap or follows the breaker. it is only two screws for heaven's sake. If you do need a new breaker, take your old one with you to make sure you get exactly the same shape/mounting,. Every manufacturer has many various breakers, they change from time to time due to NEC changes and apparently identical breakers may in fact not be identical. The store should be able to cross-reference from your defective breaker to current production if you need a new one. You don't say how old the breakers are..
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No, you need to get a replacement breaker for your panel. The big box diy stores have them and they are not expensive.
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wrote:

If $35 is "not expensive". I'd swap some wires before replacing things.
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In many cases a breaker of a different brand will work just fine.
It will not pass an electrical inspection, at least not here, because the breakers and the box are rated based on a single brand.
Sometimes the rating standard is exactly the same and it would pass, but the inspectors take the easy way out. I sorta understand that. Inspecting each breaker's ratings would be a PITA.
If it looks the same, mounts the same, has the same amperage and fits the hole in the cover most likely you will be safe using it.
Specific to tandem breakers is the lockout method that prevents too many of them being in the same box. It might be a hook or nubs on the side. Best thing is to take the old one with you to the BORG and find an exact match based on physical size and amps. The local Lowes carries CH breakers, the Murrys and some of the GE as well as the Homeline are about the same.
There are some really old CH ones that are no longer made. That panel should be replaced completely as it was recalled.
--
Colbyt
Please come visit http://www.househomerepair.com
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There is one exception to another brand of breaker in a panel failing electrical inspection. Underwriters Recognized (UR) breakers will pass inspection if the inspector is competent. The UR mark means that Underwriters Laboratories has Recognized that breaker as suitable for use in a panel of another brand and that it will meet the minimum standards for that size and type of breaker in that use. At one time Thomas & Betts made several such breakers but I don't believe that they still do. -- Tom Horne
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There is an exception to the breaker of a different manufacturer not passing electrical inspection. If the breaker of a different manufacturer is Classified for use in that panel board it will pass inspection if the inspector is competent.
[QUOTE]98. Classified and Listed Compatibility List - A circuit breaker that is both Classified and Listed is marked on the side with the statement: "This circuit breaker is Listed for use in circuit breaker enclosures and panelboards intended and marked for its use. This circuit breaker is Classified for use, where the available short-circuit current is 10 kA, 120/240 V ac or less, in the compatible panelboards shown in Publication No. ______ provided with this circuit breaker. When used as a Classified circuit breaker, do not use in equipment connected to circuits having an available system short- circuit current in excess of 10 kA, 120/240 V ac. If additional information is necessary, contact [Classified circuit breaker manufacturer's name]."[/QUOTE]
As one example many of the Cutler Hammer breakers are Classified for use in other manufacturers panels.
-- Tom Horne
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the situation is a home not commercial, it's not MY home.
the breaker in question that trips from time to time feeds the gas furnace, nothing else
when I go to check things out, I can start and stop the furnace and blower many times and the breaker doesn't trip. I don't see anything out of sorts in the furnace. No wires rubbing on sheet metal etc. I have some experience with things electrical.
A week or so goes by and the breaker will have tripped.
The breaker may be getting old and tripping on the start up surge of the blower...
The panal has Square D dual style breakers. Its been that way since the house was built.
Throwing a "new" ebay breaker in there to see what happens is the easiest as long as its <$10 or so.
So I sould have asked two questions?
1) Will a Cuttler Hammer Breaker FIT and WORK in a Sqaure D panal?
2) Is it legal?
Mark
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