Square D QO panel or CH?

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Old 07-29-20, 07:55 PM
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Square D QO panel or CH?

Is there any reason I should consider using a Square D QO panel instead of a CH panel? My main is CH, so I was going to go with a CH subpanel. But I could alternatively go with a Square D QO panel if there is a good reason to do so because the main will probably be upgraded either this fall or early next summer (and thus could be switched over to Square D QO).
 
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Old 07-29-20, 08:05 PM
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A lot to do with personal preference. Square D QO is all we install.
 
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Old 07-29-20, 08:16 PM
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QO breakers has trip indicator. Other than that, I don't there is any rear advantage or disadvantage over another.
The only major factor in choosing load center is what the bus bar is made of and both QO and CH are copper bus bar.
 
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Old 07-30-20, 06:45 AM
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Six of one, half dozen of the other. CH also have trip indicators.
 
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Old 07-30-20, 08:31 AM
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not all QO is copper. The part numbering system is confusing. Some panels need the "CU" at the end to get the copper bus.
 
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Old 07-30-20, 10:14 AM
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not all QO is copper. The part numbering system is confusing. Some panels need the "CU" at the end to get the copper bus.
I have NEVER heard or read this anywhere, are you sure? The big QO quality claim has always been tin plated copper bus bars for as long as I can remember, along with the Lifetime Warranty on QO loadcenters and breakers.

From the Square D site:
Exclusive shielded copper bus features electro tin-plated copper bus bars sandwiched between two rugged polymer shields to insulate and secure the interior.
The use of "CU" as a suffix in the catalog number to designate copper bus is common in the Siemens and Eaton/Cutler-Hammer BR series products, but I have never known Square D to use that system for QO products and ALL Homeline loadcenters have aluminum bus with no copper option at all.

30 years ago I swore by Square D, but since they were acquired by Schneider, it is my opinion that they have lowered quality while raising the price. Since that time I would swear at Square D more than I would swear by them especially when buying replacement parts or circuit breakers for repairs and expansion of existing Square D systems. But, when bidding larger projects, Square D will not hesitate to drop price to beat out any competitor as they know they'll make it back later.

Today I lean much harder toward Eaton/Cutler-Hammer CH series with standard silver plated copper bus and Lifetime Warranty for residential and light commercial jobs versus Square D. Siemens also makes some very nice copper bus loadcenters that are competitively priced for these same applications. Today the CH breakers all have a trip indicator too except for existing old circuit breaker stock.
 
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Old 07-30-20, 10:37 AM
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Last week I bought one of these: QO8-16L100DSCU

for subpanel usage. 100A and Copper buss.

but this otherwise identical panel is Al bus, "plated for reliability": https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...00DS/100170999

Its a minefield.
 
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Old 07-30-20, 03:10 PM
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From Square D regarding the QO bus material.

https://www.se.com/us/en/faqs/FA97110/
 
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Old 07-30-20, 03:36 PM
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I say Square D Homeline or Siemens and take the money you save for other things.
 
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Old 07-31-20, 07:50 AM
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Its a race to the bottom; GE and SqD leading the way.
Leviton is on probation. I just had a AFCI smart breaker actually fail in service. On a circuit with just a refrigerator. It didnt' trip, it just "opened up" internally. No voltage on output terms. Resetting didn't help
 
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Old 08-01-20, 12:53 PM
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From Square D regarding the QO bus material.

https://www.se.com/us/en/faqs/FA97110/
PCBoss, that's exactly what I was always told by Square reps and distributors, but I have now also found a Schneider Electric spec sheet on the QO panel telecom guy claimed had aluminum bus. I know that Home Depot descriptions and specifications cannot always be trusted, but this Schneider/Square D spec sheet also says this small MLO QO loadcenter has tin plated aluminum bus and ONLY an 18 month warranty! This is a far cry from Square D's long time claim of standard tin plated copper bus and Lifetime Warranty on QO products! How long till they drop the Lifetime Warranty on QO circuit breakers? This just confirms my feeling on Square D that Schneider has lowered quality. I suppose it was just a matter of time, their business ethics dropped a long time ago and now quality continues to drop.

https://static.graybar.com/content-r...657-387010.pdf
 
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Old 08-01-20, 01:02 PM
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I say Square D Homeline or Siemens and take the money you save for other things.
I don't totally agree. I do like the Siemens and Cutler-Hammer BR series loadcenters that have copper bus option, but as far as I am concerned, any aluminum bus loadcenter is a "Builder Grade" no matter who makes them, Square D included. Of course, the only reason Square D brought out the Homeline product line 30 years ago was to try to be competitive in the residential market. It's hard to be competitive with a copper bus panel.
 
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Old 08-01-20, 05:34 PM
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Is copper bus bar really any better than aluminum bus bar?

There are many houses with builder grade Type BR panels, but never once heard of any issue.

Square D QO and Eaton CH breakers are also about twice as expensive compared to other breakers. I wonder if there really is a significant difference to justify the cost.
 
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Old 08-01-20, 06:38 PM
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I have seen/replaced a couple of aluminum bus bar panels in my career due to the bars being damaged from arcing/loose connections. Strangely they were both ITE. However, the cause may have not been the panels and could have been the breakers, but either way, they melted.

Personally I do not think the extra cost of QO or CH panels are worth the extra cost. The biggest determining factor is what the local supplier carries and costs. Recently we did a job in WI and that area carried Square D products. A Square D QO three-phase bolt in panelboard was at least double the cost for the panel and breakers that a similar Siemens.
 
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Old 08-02-20, 07:46 AM
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I have seen/replaced a couple of aluminum bus bar panels in my career due to the bars being damaged from arcing/loose connections.
I've seen more than a few and always recommended replacement. Some would decide to proceed with replacement and some wouldn't. My experience is that the local housing authority would never replace till the panel was completely burnt up. One time I saw a small loadcenter with aluminum bus where the bus was hot enough it was no longer rigid and would flex back when trying to install a new breaker. It needed to be replaced, but as an emergency, a new breaker could have gotten the customer a couple more days till the panel could have been replaced. After dropping all load the bus cooled off and a new breaker was installed. As I recall it was replaced the following week by a low bidder.

Personally I do not think the extra cost of QO or CH panels are worth the extra cost.
I would generally agree with that. I have no problem at all installing a copper bus Siemens or Cutler-Hammer copper bus BR panel for a family member. I probably would go with the Siemens as first choice. If it was just a temporary or short term residence for that family member I might even go with an aluminum bus option.

A Square D QO three-phase bolt in panelboard was at least double the cost for the panel and breakers that a similar Siemens.
I would prefer the Siemens over the Square D anyway. Panelboards that take bolt-in breakers are standard with aluminum bus with copper as a more expensive option regardless of who manufactures them.
 
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Old 08-02-20, 02:06 PM
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I wonder what was the cause of overheated/burnt aluminum bus bars others have seen.
I'm sure the bus bar was designed to handle rated load.

Maybe oxidation of aluminum is causing the problem?


Siemens and copper BR panels have reasonable price, but they are some what hard to get around here. Most are special order. Electrical supply stores (Rexel) primarily sells aluminum bus bar BR panels, which was a surprise for me. No reason to buy from electrical supply stores when Home depot sells them much cheaper.
 
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Old 08-02-20, 03:11 PM
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Adding aluminum to any electrical contact adds an element of risk. Al is a good conductor, at about 40% worse than copper. However, I have never seen a relay or switch contact made of Al, for example.
The main issue is surface conductivity, which can be quite poor due to oxides. So, you find panel makers plating the Al with non-reactive elements elements to reduce that issue.
But what if repeated breaker R&R wears off the plating? And, how many folks use grease on breaker contacts? I do know some do.
Copper based contacts are just so much more forgiving. And these load centers mounted outdoors in hot moist areas? No thanks.
 
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Old 08-02-20, 04:30 PM
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I wonder what was the cause of overheated/burnt aluminum bus bars others have seen.
I'm sure the bus bar was designed to handle rated load.
My experience is that the contact surface between the breaker and aluminum bus bar was the issue.

Maybe oxidation of aluminum is causing the problem?
As far as I know, aluminum bus is always tin plated regardless of manufacturer and Square D QO series tin plates their copper bus bars. Cutler-Hammer CH series copper bus is silver plated. Siemens and Cutler-Hammer BR series copper bus bars are not plated at all.

It all boils down to personal preference which many times is based upon past experience.
 
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