Best breaker panel for the homeowner to do maintenance on

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Old 03-18-13, 01:22 PM
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Best breaker panel for the homeowner to do maintenance on

Hey all,

I know that this could start a religious flamewar, but I would like opinions on the best breaker brand and type for the homeowner for changing out breakers.

I'm shopping for a subpanel somewhere in the 60-100A range for a garage. I'm familiar with Square-D QO series only.

If cost weren't terribly important, what would you choose?
 
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Old 03-18-13, 02:29 PM
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Most panels require about the same effort to install or remove a breaker. The biggest differences are the bus material and added features like the Visi-trip window.
 
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Old 03-18-13, 02:35 PM
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square D

I've always been a fan of the sq. D QO breakers and panels. They are more money with the visi-trip window and copper bus bar. You get what you pay for. :P
 
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Old 03-18-13, 03:52 PM
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If cost weren't terribly important, what would you choose?
I prefer Siemens, Cutler-Hammer and GE over Square D.
 
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Old 03-18-13, 04:45 PM
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Nash......really ? I could see Siemens and maybe CH over Square D .... but GE ?
 
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Old 03-18-13, 04:53 PM
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Nash......really ? I could see Siemens and maybe CH over Square D .... but GE ?
I'm not a big fan of Square D. It goes back to when they had those infernal flip-toggle-screw gizmos to hold the deadfronts on. I know they haven't done that in years, but I still don't care for them.

GE makes some nice boxes.

I did list them in order of preference, BTW.
 
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Old 03-18-13, 05:16 PM
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infernal flip-toggle-screw gizmos
You've got that right. I just love panel covers that take 3 people to install.
 
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Old 03-18-13, 07:58 PM
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You've got that right. I just love panel covers that take 3 people to install.
To be fair, almost every manufacturer used similar means to fasten those huge panelboard covers on back in the day. I think the old FPEs and Frankie Adams boards were some of the worst, but Square D was no prize either. Now that I think about it, GE probably would have used the same system had they made distribution equipment back in then.
 
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Old 03-18-13, 08:02 PM
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GE makes some nice boxes.
Yep, they do, and some of them don't even catch on fire.

Actually, in my opinion, larger GE panelboards (like 400A, 800A, 1000A, 1200A) and switchboards have trims that appear to not be made for their own products. Everything fits sloppily and is very flimsy. The only reason GE still makes distribution equipment is they haven't been able to find a buyer.
 
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Old 03-18-13, 08:44 PM
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We normally use ITE/Seimans panels plug in load centers and panelboards due to cost and qualtity. I do also like Square D QO and their Homeline brands, and Cuttler Hammer's CH line. Cuttler Hammer BRs are OK but seam kind of cheap. I do not like GE except for their panelboards that use bolt in breakers.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 05:31 AM
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Not sure of the brand....probably Siemens, but they use a punched out tab at the top of the panel door to hang it by while you fiddle fart finding the screws. Makes for an easy door install.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 07:45 AM
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I know they get slammed for aluminum buses and 2-pole tandems can easily be installed in the wrong spaces but but GE breakers are common as dirt almost anywhere and almost as cheap so if it is Sunday and two days before payday and you need a breaker GE is the choice. For me those were important factors when I replaced my Zinsco.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 08:13 AM
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I really like the door-within-a-door fronts that Eaton, I think it is, is shipping with some panels now. Open door #1 and flip breakers. Open door#2 and swap out breakers. Nothing to set aside and reinstall, and you can close it up safe in a heartbeat.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 09:25 AM
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I'll take a look at what breakers are common at Ace and the big box stores then, and see how available the recommendations are.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 05:57 PM
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Not sure of the brand....probably Siemens, but they use a punched out tab at the top of the panel door to hang it by while you fiddle fart finding the screws. Makes for an easy door install.
As far as I know of, Siemans is the only brand that has that.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 06:12 PM
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I'm not a big fan of Square D. It goes back to when they had those infernal flip-toggle-screw gizmos to hold the deadfronts on. I know they haven't done that in years, but I still don't care for them.
I've dealt with a lot of those over the years and never had a bit of trouble. Working with the four-piece covers on some Square D I-Line panels IS a huge pain in my rear.


I really like the door-within-a-door fronts that Eaton, I think it is, is shipping with some panels now.
I'm pretty sure all manufacturers offer door-within-a-door fronts; the company I used to work for always specified door-within-a-door fronts regardless of the panel brand. I know I have seen them on both Square D and General Electric. In either case they also had an inner deadfront that had to be removed before you could access either the line or load terminals on the circuit breakers. Same is true of those old Square D panels with the fronts you dislike.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 07:14 PM
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Cuttler Hammer BRs are OK but seam kind of cheap.
These really are not that bad for an inexpensive loadcenter as long as you buy the copper bus; I believe they carry a 10 year warranty. I think a lot of Siemens loadcenters and plug-in breakers are now liftetime warranted (I think I read that somewhere) like Square D QO series and Cutler-Hammer CH series.
 
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Old 03-19-13, 07:18 PM
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I really like the door-within-a-door fronts that Eaton, I think it is, is shipping with some panels now.
Is that feature on residential type loadcenters with plug-in breakers or panelboards with bolt-in breakers?
 
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Old 03-19-13, 08:21 PM
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The QO hold the breakers in a bit better, OK, a lot better than the GE, but both work. Both use tin plated copper busses, which I value. The Homeline does not, a negative.
 
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Old 03-20-13, 03:19 PM
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Is that feature on residential type loadcenters with plug-in breakers or panelboards with bolt-in breakers?
IDK. The ones I've seen it on used the bolt-in breakers.
 
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Old 03-20-13, 07:01 PM
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The QO hold the breakers in a bit better, OK, a lot better than the GE, but both work. Both use tin plated copper busses, which I value. The Homeline does not, a negative.
For the most part, I agree. I have seen QO breakers used in some commercial applications where they were not as tight on the bus as I think they should have been; a good place for bolt-in breakers such as Square D QOB. There was a time (30 years ago) when most, if not all, of GE loadcenters had aluminum bus bars. I believe these older GE panels are the ones that caught on fire. Most bus bars made of copper today are tin plated with the exception of Siemens, their copper bus bars are very easily identifiable like a new penny. I definitely prefer a good copper bus panel over the aluminum bus panels like the Homeline.
 
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Old 04-04-13, 05:24 PM
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I'd go with Square D, because I've had some problems with Cutler Hammer. There was one time where I had a 90a Double Pole CH breaker flip right out of the panel when I switched it off. Square D works very well, and I like the way they put their neutral busses close to the main breaker in their MBPs. It makes top-feeding branch circuits so much easier, and it turns out a little nicer, IMHO.
 
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