Exercising breakers in the home

Old 05-29-15, 05:57 AM
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Exercising breakers in the home

I assume there is a standard in commercial and industrial but how about for residential?

Is it a good idea to switch breakers on and off periodically?

Am I asking for trouble by toggling my main breaker yearly?

How many times can you switch a modern breaker before it wears? How many times can a breaker trip at fault before they should be replaced?
Old 05-29-15, 08:07 AM
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I don't know of any standard in breaker cycling. It's not something I do at home.

In my opinion...... I don't feel that breakers need to be cycled.
Old 05-29-15, 02:32 PM
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Like PJ I do not "cycle" the circuit breakers in my house. But, as mechanical devices I agree that occasional cycling is a good idea. Doing it once a year will not reduce their lifespan one single second but it might allow one to trip properly on a fault.

If you do choose to cycle, or "exercise" your circuit breakers it should be done with minimal load on the circuit to reduce the internal flash at the contact points. This is especially true of large, main circuit breakers. The procedure I would use would be to merely turn off most of the electric items in the house and then turn off each individual circuit breaker. When all the branch CBs are off then turn off the main circuit breaker, wait a couple of seconds and turn the main CB back on and then one-by-one turn on all the branch circuit breakers.

The biggest problem with this cycling is that you will need to reset all the silly digital clocks and maybe some programmed items such as a video recorder or coffee maker. Of course there is always the very remote chance that a CB will mechanically fail during this testing and if it is the main, you are in some deep doo-doo.
Old 06-01-15, 02:32 PM
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Any modern breaker with a "SWD" or "HID" marking (virtually all 15A and 20A breakers) is rated for many thousands of cycles at full load. This type of breaker can be used to disconnect power on a regular basis similar to a light switch.

It's best with the higher amperage breakers to unload them first by switching the connected appliance off using its factory provided switch or local disconnect lever prior to opening the breaker. That said, once per year is not a problem. This is really only something to consider if you're switching heavy loads daily or more.

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