two questions re: GFCIs and half size breakers

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  #1  
Old 06-15-01, 06:53 AM
no_sparks
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This forum is unbelievably useful...a wealth of info! Posted my first question yesterday - rec'd great answers, now I'm ready again...hope I don't wear out my welcome too quick, but here goes two more questions:

helped a friend install a 220 breaker,wiring, and 3-prong receptacle for a window AC last night...went very smoothly but had a couple of general questions afterwards -
1)his panel is a GE with mostly very small breakers (called half size?). Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but is a 15 or 20 amp breaker in this smaller package just as good as the full size? i also noticed that there were two full size 15 amp breakers(single pole)installed. my friend said these were added when some deck lighting and "other circuits were installed". seems odd that if you're saving all this space in a panel why take up two spaces per breaker when you only have to take up one?

2) Is there such a thing as a 220V GFCI? I don't recall ever seeing one, but after installing the 220 receptacle last night, it made me start thinking (thinking...always a scary thing for me). Since portable, 220V, plug-in devices are rarely (maybe never?)used by the typical homeowner is this why 220V GFCI is not necessary...or did I mess up and it is neccessary?

thanks for any input....
 
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  #2  
Old 06-15-01, 02:42 PM
Wgoodrich
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Your said;
1)his panel is a GE with mostly very small breakers (called half size?). Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but is a 15 or 20 amp breaker in this smaller package just as good as the full size?
Reply;
Some say a full size breaker is better at carrying a load due to the absorbsion of heat from adjacent breakers while using 1/2 size breakers versus while using full size breakers. However the disigns of both full size and 1/2 size breakers are approved by testing labrotories or they would not be allowed used in the industry as per 110-3 of the NEC.

You said;
i also noticed that there were two full size 15 amp breakers(single pole)installed. my friend said these were added when some deck lighting and "other circuits were installed". seems odd that if you're saving all this space in a panel why take up two spaces per breaker when you only have to take up one?
Reply;
While they do manufacture piggy back 220 volt 1/2 size breakers they would take up two spaces or 220 volts would not be available. The why 1/2 120v versus full sized 120v breakers the above reply should have answered that. Then add the extra cost often experienced to obtain 1/2 sized breakers in a contractor's mind and he probably would pick a full size breaker to increase profit if the room is available in the panel.

You said;
2) Is there such a thing as a 220V GFCI?
Reply;
Yes, many appliances are required by the NEC to be protected by a 220 volt GFCI device such as hot tubs.

You said;
I don't recall ever seeing one, but after installing the 220 receptacle last night, it made me start thinking (thinking...always a scary thing for me). Since portable, 220V, plug-in devices are rarely (maybe never?)used by the typical homeowner is this why 220V GFCI is not necessary...or did I mess up and it is neccessary?

Reply;
Normally A/C units whether window or central type units are not required to be protected by a GFCI device by the NEC.

Hope this helps

Wg
 
  #3  
Old 06-18-01, 05:32 AM
no_sparks
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yes Wg, this is helpful....thanks for the response
 
  #4  
Old 06-18-01, 05:17 PM
Able Sashweight
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re: the 1/2 inch GE breakers.

If memory serves, when I was browsing for info on GE panels, I saw a page at the GE site or in their catalog that said that they regarded the half sized trip mechanism enough to use it in the full sized breakers. Posibly I'm confusing this with another manufacturer. Still, the breaker couldn't be listed if it wasn't functional for the prescribed use.

Some GE panels don't allow 1/2" breakers in all each slot - it depends on the panel you get. The panel I have allows half inchers only in the 4 inches of each bus furthest from the main lugs. I had to think about how I wanted to use the half size slots, and considerations were
a. size of load. I wanted the window AC close to the lugs, to minimize bus current, so I used a full sized 2 pole breaker for that even though a half size is available.
b. locating breakers of similar function near one another. It can be handy to have all of the heating and AC breakers near one another, and all of the lighting, etc.

Or maybe your earlier installer had the full sized breaker in hand and didn't want to take the time or spend the money to get the half sized.

Able
 
  #5  
Old 06-19-01, 06:01 AM
no_sparks
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able -
thanks for the reply....i've got a feeling that your last sentence is the most aplicable of all....i'm sitting here getting all theoretical about this and it is probably simply an issue of someone using what was available
thanks
 
  #6  
Old 06-23-01, 07:27 PM
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Just a note on the 220 volt GFI breakers. When I installed our hottub several years ago I ran the motors at 220vac and protected them with a GFCI in the breaker pannel. Worked out great. It was an expensive little guy back then though, about $50 as I remember.
 
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