High price of 600 amp circuit breakers?

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I came into possession of a few used 400-600A circuit breakers. Each is the size of a milk jug. While researching prices on them and such (they sell for $150-200 on ebay), I learned that some cost many thousands of dollars new. I saw numbers from $2,500 and higher.
I am curious just what makes them so expensive. Do they have any precious materials inside? Or what?
i
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They're basically relatively low demand things used commercially/industrially, and they're much more rugged than their residential counterparts.
It takes good design to reliably interrupt a 400-600A circuit without blowing up the neighborhood. Especially at higher voltages.
If you think that's bad, you should see the breakers they have to use with higher ampacities and voltages. "air blast arc suppression" etc. I'm glad we don't have to do that at a mere 15A ;-)
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wrote:

OK.
Sure, I agree.
What you are saying, in other words, is that their price reflects not only the production costs, but also costs of R&D etc, spread out among relatively few produced pieces. Hence the cost.
Right?
Some of the new breakers somewhat similar to mine have a MSRP of $11,666!!!
http://www.circuitbreakersurplus.com/Circuit-Breakers-Siemens-grp-33-start-31.html
i
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Right. Remember also that these things tend to be multiple pole breakers too. So, trying to see some relationship in cost between one of these beasties and a single slot 15A residential breaker is bound to fail ;-)
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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wrote:

I got it. Thanks Chris, Harold, SQLit.
I have a related question. I want to sell them on ebay and would like to get as much as I can. The obvious things I can do is wipe the dust, photograph them very well and test them with an ohm meter. Is there anything else, something unobvious, that I could do?
thanks, as always.
i
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Check for cracks, corrosion or pitting on the connectors. Ensure that the contacts open/close when you operate the handle.
If you can see/get at the contacts, check them for heavy pitting. [Sometimes these things have replaceable contacts, so you may be able to get at them.]
Beyond that, you'd need to test them to see if they trip for overcurrent. This is absolutely _not_ something you can test short of having a purpose built lab with a lot of very expensive gear, least of which being a power supply that can deliver one heck of a lot of amps. And a shorting switch that won't explode at, say, 100,000 amps.
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wrote:

Thank you. all good ideas.

I agree. I could use some welding cables and several car batteries, and use large steel flats for switching, but I do not see the point and it is just too dangerous.
Checking the contacts is a great idea.
i
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In addition to the low demand and cost of engineering, another thing that probably inflates the cost is reliability testing. Very often the same product is labeled and sold at different prices, the primary difference being the amount of testing that went into ensuring the reliability of the device. A good example is the difference between military and commercial electronic parts.
In your case, you cannot guarantee reliability, provide a warrantee or perhaps even guarantee functionality and this will all substantially reduce the price for an eBay customer. Good luck, I find that electronic parts sell slowly on eBay. Look at the number of bids on those parts for a preview. Stuff is only worth what someone will pay for it, fortunately you paid nothing. I think you will do better with a return if DOA policy rather than an AS-IS policy.
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Fair enough.

Try search ebay for:
"400 amp" circuit breaker -(new) "600 amp" circuit breaker -(new)
(cut and paste this into the search box)
You would find that these breakers briskly sell for about $150-230, with the average price of about $190-200 or so.
If you look closely at ebay histories of auction winners, you would see that they are professional dealers of circuit breakers. What I suspect they do, is buy these breakers on ebay, test them, perhaps replace contacts or whatever, call them "FACTORY RECONDITIONED" and resell to their own customers for a few times more than what they paid.
Thusly, I am leaning towards selling all these breakers in one lot, to save shipping to such buyers. I would prefer selling to these professionals instead of dealing with clueless individual buyers who buy them to use at their locations.
i
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Ignoramus5533 wrote:

....
I'd say it would be the rare individual spending >$100/breaker for own use that would be totally clueless...Ain't many non-commercial applications for 600A breakers.
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wrote:

Send an email to these pro dealers (eBay sellers) and ask if they would like to buy your lot directlly from you. You may not get the max price but you won't have to wait through several unsuccessful auctions (assuming you use a minimum price) or get lowballed cause there is another just like it this week etc.
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Thanks. My thinking was that these sellers would have an informational advantage over me (they know more than I do) and I would not get what I could get for them, if I offered them privately. They know what these breakers are. If I listed them on ebay as one lot with 10-11 breakers in the lot (forgot how many I have in fact), they they would at least bid against one another, and that would reduce my disadvantage.
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Ignoramus5533 wrote:

What is the warranty you are offering? We've used some used electrical equipment in our shop, but it came from dealers with a warranty and reputation for good stuff. Cluless individuals are not interested in 600A breakers, and most pros are not intrested in screwing around wiht questionable equpment. Just not worth the risk.
What you have is of interest to a very small segment of the electrical market. You may be very disappointed in what you are offered for them.
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I actually have a good reputation, 300+ 100% positive ebay feedback.
And it is not because I never screw up. I do screw up from time to time, but I make it right afterwards.

I will be elated if, say, I get $150 apiece. That would be many times over what I paid for them. I do hope to get $180-200 apiece, which is in line with recent ebay sales.
If I sell these breakers separately, I can give buyers a 5 day right of return, they pay shipping. If I sell to dealers, all in one lot, I would give them no warranty. They are dealers and know what they are doing.
i
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Yes, but does that feedback say you're a reliable supplier of useable/working high amp breakers? _That's_ what's meant by "good reputation" in this context. eBay reputation is somewhat irrelevant in this context.
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wrote:

Well, it says that I do not sell bad things by claiming that they are good things.
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It means you're basically honest, but it doesn't mean that you can reliably assess the condition of these breakers. You can't test them.
Best you can say is "good/clean condition, contacts apparently good, manual actuator works".
Industrial users of such equipment will not buy such gear. Even a guarantee is not going to help, because they can't risk it failing and taking something very expensive with it. Hell, for the most part, it'll cost them more to install it than you could sell it for.
Rebuilders are your best bet, and they won't pay much.
--
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wrote:

Yep. That's what I will do. I will say something like "Demolition takeout from a working system. Clean. Checks out with an ohmmeter, turns on and off with manual switch". Or something like that.

Well, what would they pay, in your opinion?
i
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[...]

In my limited experience with 'em (worked in a warehouse for a rebuilder for a summer) it was running marginally better than by-the-pound scrap prices. Also, one-offs got less than batches. The guys I worked for were a bunch of assholes. Dunno if that applies to the industry as a whole, but seemed about par in Texas/Oklahoma.
--
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Speaking of which, check out this very cool site:
http://teslamania.delete.org/frames/longarc.htm
In particular, check out the two (large) videos of the HV disconnect switches opening hot. Very exciting!
You may also be fascinated by the coin shrinking tricks elsewhere on the author's site.
- Michael
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