Using the Circuit Breaker as an On-Off Switch

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not a chance, it's cheaper to turn it off & back on rahter than leaving it on all day.
If it used more energy why would utilities give rebates for setback thermostats????
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I run all stop signs without causing problems. That proves stop signs can be ignored. You have violated a basic principle. Just because circuit breakers work as switched in one place does not mean it is acceptable everywhere. Do you know that those bookstore circuit breakers are specially designed to be switched? You should know such facts - the underlying theory - before posting.
If one cannot answer the question based both on the specifications (theoretical knowledge) and practical experience (experimental knowledge), then one does not have an answer. Experimentally I have proved that stop signs can be ignored. Given these two above requirements, can we say I have sufficient information to promote running stop signs? Obviously not.
Circuit breakers, like all switches, have life expectancy numbers and other parameters. The question can only be answered by providing the numbers - the specs. Anything less would be junk science reasoning.
Bo Williams wrote:

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No...the question can only be answered by reality...after the fact.
All specs are theoretical.
Have a nice one...
Trent
Budweiser: Helping ugly people have sex since 1876!
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Yikes. Much ado about next to nothing.
People do this stuff every day, I skimmed one post on here where a guy told of using the breakers every single day of the year to turn the store lights on and off. I would hazard a guess that this happens a few hundred thousand times a day in our world.
Is it "code", is it "right", is it "safe"??? Is it reality? Probably not, don't judge, for all but total morons, you bet.
Results of repeated applications: breaker wears out, won't hold one position or the other. Solution: $4.00 and 10 minutes for installing a new breaker.
Results of REALLY repeated applications: you wear out the stub on the bus bar, the breaker won't stay in it's slot. Solution: $5 for a new breaker and a snap-in hole filler, move breaker to a new position.
What the fugg is all of the fuss about???
--
The real Tom Pendergast [ So if you meet me, have some courtesy,
aka I-zheet M'drurz [ have some sympathy, and some taste.
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BTW the real answer to the original question is in the U/L white book. Breakers that are rated for switching duty are marked "SWD". Otherwse you are in an "untested" area. If it is a name brand breaker of recent manufacture (read:"hanging on the wall at the hardware store") I bet you are fine. If this is some "collector model" breaker with no markings I wouldn't screw with it too much. You might be looking for something that is going for $100 on Ebay ... when you can find one.
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Greg wrote:

I believe OP said it was a Federal Pacific, so you can't really trust the UL listings. FPE was known to forge UL marks, and even if the breaker is OK for switch duty, it will be expensive and hard to find a replacement. (And the other breakers in the box may fall out when you open the cover -- I've had that happen.)
If it was a modern panel (Siemens, GE Powermark, Square D, etc.) I would have no problem with using an SWD or FLD breaker as a switch.
Bob
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Sorry, I missed that. FPEs in working condition are certainly in the "collecter item" class. Maybe exercising them makes them work better but they do come with a bad rep.
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Fire is not a 'nothing'. Some breakers are constructed to also turn off power. Therefore they are rated for that task. Another classic example of why someone must know the underlying theory - the principles - in this case the electrical code - long before jumping to conclusions that all breakers can be switched repeatedly.
Have we not had enough murders because the decision maker did not even understand basic decision making concepts? Its called the Challenger - where decisions were made by those who say, "It worked last time so it will always work". We should have been putting them (ditto for Columbia) on trial.
Principles could not be demonstrated more obviously. "I run every stop sign and have not yet killed anyone. That proves we can all run stop signs." Exactly the type of decision making that murders people. Some foolishly call them accidents. Exactly the same type of decision makers who should be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Just because one does something daily and the building does not burn down does not even begin to prove anything. Provided by responsible posters in this thread are facts. Some breakers are rated to operate as power switches. Others are not.
As for those FPE breakers: http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm This should scare the original poster. History of FPE products should be common knowledge.
I-zheet M'drurz wrote:

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w_tom wrote:

I didn't know there were switch-rated circuit breakers and non-switch-rated circuit breakers. I know that now, as several people pointed that out, even before I got to your condescending diatribe.
I welcome opportunities to fill gaps in my ignorance. It's not necessary to be nasty when you perceive such a gap.
[...]
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There is always one who feels it is 'adult' to demand political correctness. Adults never need politically correct posts. The post stands technically correct. If it insults Bo Williams, then that part of Bo Williams is bluntly reminded that no intent to be condescending existed in any word. It was posted exactly as was necessary to make a technical point. Adults say, "Good, I now understand". Lesser people worry about insults - that actually did not exist in that post.
Junk science reasoning was demonstrated bluntly and accurately without wasting words on how it might be emotionally perceived. Those who must have everything spun in a politically correct world will be upset with the post and therefore expose themselves. In some quarters, you can get arrested for exposing yourself.
The only part 'nasty' in that post was how Bo Williams emotionally perceived it. A principle of logical thinking - that something must exist both theoretically and experimentally - should never be posted any other way but straight up and blunt. Some find that painful - like hard whiskey. Sorry you worry too much about how it hurts your throat.
But fact remains: what you do in a bookstore does not prove anything other than junk science reasoning. Provided was knowledge about circuit breaker ratings AND how to tell the difference between junk science verse technically logical posts. Did your post meet the criteria of being based both on theory and experimental evidence? No - absolutely not. Therefore it demonstrated the principles of junk science - too often found in that store's fiction section. If there is insult in this, then insult is only in the mind of that reader. Defined is the difference between a post based in junk science verses logical reasoning.
Bo Williams wrote:

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w_tom wrote:

[snip much more blather]
Many adults learn manners, too, present company obviously excepted. Bye, now. Take the last word (or 500, as seems to be your wont).
<plonk>
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Unfortunately Bo Williams cannot learn concepts without an emotional response - feeling a factual post is "condescending". He wants others to lie to him so he will not feel demeaned? Sorry. There is no polite way to say this. Bo Williams posted classic junk science reasoning. Either he can learn from his mistake or he can feel demeaned. Because his bookstore uses circuit breakers to switch lights, then he declares (with neither theory nor experience) that all circuit breakers can be used as switches. Classic symptoms of junk science reasoning. A best friend would note these mistakes rather than worry about silly emotions.
Bo Williams wrote:

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w_tom wrote:

But all circuit breakers *might* be switch duty, you don't know until you look at the tiny label on them to see if they are SWD listed. Many plain old breakers are SWD listed (or FLD).
Since the breakers in question are FPE's, I wouldn't use them as switches anyway, but that's a diffrerent issue entirely.
Bob
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Is anyone familiar with acceptable replacements for FPE breakers other than a new breaker box? Also some FPE breaker boxes were not sufficient. How much should an FPE breaker box be derated (having heard of power busses in FPE boxes causing fires)?
zxcvbob wrote:

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There are switch rated breakers available from most manufactures. Required for switching loads since I think 1999 NEC. It would probably be cheaper and safer to go to Lowes and by their water heater time clock. Absolutely the least expensive I could find ~$35. This time clock needs an neutral to work and only switches one leg. I installed mine last February and no problems since. Remove it when he leaves
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We've gone through 2 sets of breakers in my church in 20 years by using them as switches ... thanks Mr. Architect. Now there are switch rated breakers installed ... time will tell. BTW, the breakers were replaced because they would run real hot and then trip. Each 20A breaker has an 800 watt load.
SQLit wrote:

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SQLit wrote:

Mine is an intermatic water heater timer. The timer motor runs on the full 240 volts, no neutral needed. --Mike
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The amount of energy he will save is trivial and the circuit breaker will wear out unless (and this is unlikely) it is made to be used as a switch.
Bad idea.
I used to do it weekly on my cottage water heater, but then I put a real switch on it. Costs about $15 if there is enough slack in the wiring. (I ended up rewiring the whole circuit because I found out they used undersized wire!)
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Thanks for the responses.
The breakers are pretty old Federal Pacific (I remember because my house had FP breakers once upon a time), and I'm guessing they're not rated as switches, so I'll dissuade him from that approach. I suspect the apartment management would disapprove of my tinkering with the wiring to the water heater (though we did ask about changing out an unattractive light fixture), and I don't recall it having much slack.
I think I'll wait until he gets some real winter weather before I mention that leaving the water heater on may be warming his apartment slightly -- he left near-freezing weather in the UK and arrived to record highs in the nineties, and is worried his air conditioning bill will be ruinous.
I'll just suggest an insulating blanket and will take him some leftover pipe insulation.
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Robert E. Lewis wrote:

WARNING NOTICE DANGER
FEDERAL PACIFIC ELECTRIC BREAKERS CAN FAIL TO OPERATE AFTER A SINGLE MANUAL SWITCHING CYCLE OR A SINGLE AUTOMATIC TRIPPING OPERATION. They are not to be trusted to do the job for which they were originally installed and they must never be used as switches. The two pole breakers are especially vulnerable to this sort of failure. -- Tom H
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