Why Do They Group Four Circuit Breakers Together?

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Old 06-12-11, 01:41 PM
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Why Do They Group Four Circuit Breakers Together?

I have a breaker that is made up of four breakers. The middle two are 50 amp for the AC and are strapped together (I understand why they do this). The two on the outside are twenty amp. Why do they add the two twenty amp breakers to the 50 amp breakers. One of the twenty has failed and I have to find and buy this four part breaker when only one has failed.
 
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Old 06-12-11, 02:33 PM
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It's called a two pole tandem (or quad-tandem) breaker. It's to add a 240v circuit to a panel that is full. They come in any combination of inner/outer breaker ratings to suit any situation. What brand is your panel?

Does it have a cage connecting the two outer breakers like this?



Or are the outer breakers individual circuits like this?
 
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Old 06-12-11, 06:09 PM
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Thanks for your reply.

Originally Posted by JerseyMatt View Post
It's called a two pole tandem (or quad-tandem) breaker. It's to add a 240v circuit to a panel that is full.
But, my breaker panel is far from full. It has 1/3 to 1/2 of the space left for breakers.

What brand is your panel?
Bryant

Does it have a cage connecting the two outer breakers like this?
Yes. What's that for?

[/QUOTE]
 
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Old 06-12-11, 06:29 PM
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The two 20 amp breakers are connected together as a 2 pole 20 amp breaker serving a 240 volt 20 amp load. It could be for a window a-c unit, an electric heater or even possibly a septic aeration pump, somewhere you have a load that isn't presently working. You could take that circuit from the existing breaker with a bad 20 amp side and install a Cutler Hammer BR220 2 pole 20 amp breaker for that load since you have a lot of unused space in your panel. OR....you could remove the quad breaker and take it to a Cutler Hammer distributor to get a new one.
 
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Old 06-12-11, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
The two 20 amp breakers are connected together as a 2 pole 20 amp breaker serving a 240 volt 20 amp load.
Thanks.

The "cage" is quite loose. It didn't throw the other twenty when it tripped.
 
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Old 06-12-11, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by i_am_jim View Post
Thanks.

The "cage" is quite loose. It didn't throw the other twenty when it tripped.
Since it tripped, you probably have a problem on that circuit. What do you have that isn't working that requires 240 volts?
 
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Old 06-12-11, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by i_am_jim View Post
Thanks.

The "cage" is quite loose. It didn't throw the other twenty when it tripped.
Such is the problem with quad-tandems. Standard 2-pole breakers have an internal "common trip" mechanism that ensures both breakers will trip even if the handle tie is broken or removed (SquareD QO 2-pole breakers go a step further in that there is only one handle). Due to their design, quad tandems do NOT have this internal mechanism and must rely on the handle tie to trip the other leg. Technically this does not pose an issue as far as protection of the 240v circuit or appliance because the power is interrupted when either leg is turned off. But if you were to try and work on the circuit without turning off the other leg, you would still get a 120v whack when you touched it.

Seeing as you have plenty of space, I would just replace this breaker with a standard 2-pole 50A and add a 2-pole 20A for the other circuit. Any Home Depot or Lowes will carry the standard Cutler Hammer/Eaton breakers. If you want to stay with what you have, I know they can special order the quad tandems a lot cheaper than you can get them from a supply house (but it will still cost more than the two standard double poles). The number for the 20/50A combo is BQ220250 .

I will never understand why EC's do some of the things they do, and one of those things that mystifies me is installing tandem breakers in a lightly filled panel. They cost more than two regular breakers, and serve no purpose.
 

Last edited by JerseyMatt; 06-12-11 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 06-13-11, 02:54 AM
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Thanks everyone for all the help.
 
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