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View Full Version : What's the best breaker panel company?



JohnV
02-17-2004, 09:10 AM
I am having an electrician move/replace our main breaker panel while he is installing a new outlet for my welder. What is everyones favorite breaker panel company? One electrician I spoke to seemed to like GE the best. Whats the best pick from you guys? I want to do it right the first time!

Thanks,

John

Bolt
02-17-2004, 10:08 AM
Square D QO line.

Planet X
02-17-2004, 10:27 AM
Siemens panels work for me.

A book 'Wiring a house' by Rex Cauldwell, clued me in on the Siemens panels.

fla jim
02-17-2004, 10:44 AM
Without a doubt Square D "QO".
Be sure to specify QO, not Homeline

Franz
02-17-2004, 12:35 PM
Square D QO loadcenter.
Any "electrician" who says otherwise is a pocket lining sumbich who wouldn't make a pimple on an electrician's as$.
Any "electrician" who doesn't employ an Amprobe to determine your household's actual current draw prior to upgrading a residentila service is a theif and a worthless ba$tard.

Sticky
02-17-2004, 01:19 PM
Just wondering for the people who said square d Why?


Seimens Why?

I have a seimens in my house and a square d in barn.

Aaron
02-17-2004, 01:29 PM
Franz,

Once again, you state your feelings without stating why you have them. Why is QO sooooo much better than Homeline? Why not go 200A when upgrading service?

I had 60A screw-in fuse main panel when I purchased my home. I was going to spend about $300 (rough estimate) to go 100A, but decided that 200A was a better choice at $400 (again, a rough estimate). I'm glad I did, as I now can run my welders, air compressors, etc w/o worrying about what the wife is doing in the home. I have plenty of room to grow. I did go with the Homeline series, and I am so far completly satisfied.

enlpck
02-17-2004, 02:19 PM
I don't have a particular preference in panel, other than that I can get parts (I have several that I can't get parts for anymore, and they will need to go soon.) Keep in mind that if you don't have a local distributor, or preferably several, for the panel, it will really, really, suck when you need to get parts, and you will (breakers do fail, you will undoubtedly change or upgrade circuits, etc) and it is now a code violation in most places to use anything other than the manufacturers own specified breaker in a panel, and they generally are incompatible to enforce this, so if you only have one local source for your brand, you are a tad captive.

That said, the other thing I'd look at is the attachment for the front faceplate-how easy it it to remove and replace without catching a wire when the panel is full. Some are a real bear.

Planet X
02-17-2004, 02:41 PM
Originally posted by Sticky
Just wondering for the people who said square d Why?


Seimens Why?

I have a seimens in my house and a square d in barn.

I am replacing/re-wiring new shop and will again be using a siemens 125 main/sub panel.
1)I am familiar with it.
2)there are two neutral buss bars on either side.1 will become ground buss if turned into sub.see 3.
3) by removing 1 metal clip I can convert panel to sub-panel.
4)Neutral busses on each side of the hot busses,I dont like birdnesting in my welder and I dont like it in my electrical panels.
5) It has slotted tabs that will accept fullsized breakers or dual.
6) they seem reasonably priced as are the breakers.


Mostly I have not electrocuted myself yet and changing panels just might 'trick-me up'- :eek:

Franz
02-17-2004, 08:21 PM
2.0, hewre you go again, tryin to pick on the old fart, and I know yer doin it cause ya figure in my weakened condition you can get away with it. Drop & give me another 50 Weaver!

I been around long enough to remember when QO breakers came out, before they had trip indicators, and they are without doubt the best breaker available.
Bryant, Westinghouse, GE, ITE, and a few others I don't recall are all the same, FULLY MAGNETIC breaker.
Cutler Hammer used to be part of Square D that split off around 1960, notice the similarity in design to a QO breaker and Buss Bar.
Federal Pacific breakers were always CRAP, that's why they are brown. They are also now no longer certified. I saw 2 horses electrocuted /fried/ deader than sh!t because a ******** used Federal Paciffic on the damn horse walker. Federal breakers DON'T trip properly, they also don't properly engage the busbar, so there are a lot of heat related arcing problems.
The "Homeowner line" breakers appeared on the market in the 1980s, with the merger of several manufacturers, and they were then a cheapened version of the commercial lines, including such magnificent features as plastic panel housings. Square D jumped into the competition too, and I had a ball with the salesman the day he was at Gates Electric touting the wonderproduct. He left agreeing the homeowner line ain't QO quality. The internal components of homeowner breakers aren't as heavy as QO.

I'm the old fart who installed the first GFI in Rochester, back in 1967, it was made by Pass & Semore, and wholesaled for $280+/-
I put it on a residential pool, as required by code, and happened to be standing there when the idiot inspector shot his mouth off about how the electrician was screwing the homeowner. NYBoard of Fire Underwriters paid me for the GFI after I got done talking to the Chief Inspector, and Big Mouth went back to being a counter man in a supply house.

SERVICE SIZING- I've seen this crap too long, and proven my point too many times with people who want to put in standby plants. Unless you are running a heat pump, or electric heat, the average house rarely draws more than 20 amps on either leg of the service, even with the electric stove running.
The last one I did was for a guy who goes by the handle TREV over on tractorbynet. Trev got bullsnotted into a 17kva PTO driven plant he runs off his John Deer, and after he owned it for 6 months, I hooked it up. His "electrician" who had upgraded his house to 200 amps, cause he'd need it, had no idea how the hell to connect up the generator, but he was a "good christian" with a cross painted on the side of his truck, and he SCREWED TREV royally.
I hooked the machine up, and switched over to genset, and metered the load. 17 amps on one side, and 21 amps on the other side, with everything in the house and pole barn running, including the laundry drier.
Most of the worthless shuts out there masqueraiding as residential electricians are little more than theives. They've learned enough to SCREW customers, and that's all they want to know. You pick any 10 of them within 20 miles of me, and lump all their test equipment together, and they can't match what I own, from ground resistance metering through recording amprobes. Most of them don't even own an Amprobe, let alone know how in hell to use it.
Now, give me another 50 Weaver.

Markopolo
02-17-2004, 09:11 PM
I guess i'll jump in on this free-for-all........
I would say: STAY AWAY FROM FEDERAL-PACIFIC !
I didn't read Franz's rant in full, but, looking at it quickly, I seen
he had something to say about F-P.....LISTEN TO HIM !
Everyone so far seems to like Square-D, and that's interesting.
I'm not an electrician, so I really have no business putting
my 2 cents in...but i'll say this: The house i'm in now has
a Federal-Pacific panel...and when I needed a breaker, it
cost 3 times as much as any other (for some reason).
My oldest brother, who IS an electrician, (retired from Fords)...
always told me that I.T.E. was the way to go.
I guess everyone has their favorites !

Dog1
02-17-2004, 11:47 PM
I'll add a little to the conversation just to bring a little more insight to it. Square D Homeline and Square D QO line both use the same main breakers, so no difference there. Mounting system is more secure on the Square D QO system, but you can get virtually the same thing on Cutler-Hammer CH style system. Cutler-Hammer merged with Westinghouse, as did Siemens and ITE. You will get the lowest price from the Siemens line, followed by General Electric (whose breaker prices are virtually identical to Square D Homeline). Square D Homeline was brought out because their QO line was being severly undercut by virtually all their competitors. It was either bring out a competitive priced product, or face losing market. GE offers the best combo deals in their contactor packs (especially their 200 amp deal with the 15 breakers included). Old electricians will always recommend Square D QO line for the same reason they use Kline tools, thats what they were told was the best and if going against that 'wisdom' will cause others question their expertice. I've used/installed and sold all of the above for many years now. My personal feelings are that Square D QO panels are over-priced and they are resting on laurels earned well in the past. My shop and house both have Cutler-Hammer 200 amp 40 circuit panels in them with General Electric whole house surge protection(100 amp subfeed to the basement) . I use General Electric , Square D , and Cutler Hammer Safety Disconnects on all of my welders, lathes , mills, saws, and other equipment that I have out in my shop. It used to be that you weren't considered a proper automotive mechanic unless you had a monster toolbox filled with Snap-On tools.......the same thing is still considered by some electricians and Square D QO equipment. Other brands will do just as good of a job in either case.

echo8287
02-18-2004, 02:26 AM
There are positives and negatives to all panels. Some have to do with where and how the grounding bars and neutral bars are located. How easy is it to get the wires in the main. The strenght of the box ,the ease or the not so ease of the knockouts. The bus bars ,what are they made of. The room inside the panel. The strength of the main is a consideration too, I've had several main chip the plastic off when you are torqueing the wire in them.(I hate when that happens)How far do I have to travel for a breaker? How much do the breakers cost? How much am I willing to pay for them? As far as load goes it depends on what you have and also what you MIGHT need in the future. Like Aaron said. In a residence load isn't all that important and Franz can say what he wants, but for my money if I'm upgrading I want a 200amp panel with 40 circuits,not 20 not a 30 BUT A 40. If I need more power then I want 2 of those, 40 more circuits. Why limit yourself, if you are going to pay for the 4/0 wire to feed the thing then get the maximum number of circuits. I wire alot of large houses where number of circuits is a consideration. The power company doesn't want to give you any more than they think you need because it will cost them more to run a larger wire to your house(which they usually don't do anyway). Franz is right in one comment he made your house doesn't really pull that much power under normal use. I checked a mans house one time(he was selling it) and wanted it to be safe. He had 2 heat pumps ,electric stove,electric water heater, electric dryer, and a single 200 amp panel 40 circuit that was full with 4 double breaker(120volt) We turned everyting on we could,I mean everything and it pulled 173 amps. As far as panel brand GE are made cheaper than they used to be, Siemans are ok but are made cheap too,stay away from General Switch(but they have improved them in the last few years),Cutler -Hammer are good , Square D Qo are good, I don't like the Homeline series because nobody has breakers for them except HD,so if you have a HD nearby they are ok. Square D and Cutler Hammer breakers cost more. The GE ,ITE,Siemans are the most common breakers. The old Challenger boxes were ok and they used same breakers as GE. I can't remember which one has the crappy knockouts that won't knock out without tearing up the box ,but if I find out I'll re-post them. The Homeline breakers are not the same as a GE sorry Dog1, but try and put one in you'll need a hacksaw.David

Dog1
02-18-2004, 09:12 AM
David,
I meant the same price when I said they were the same. We sell both for $3.29 each for the single pole breakers. I am always amazed at customers who come in and buy a small panel because that is all the bigger they need. Myself, I believe in the Tim Taylor "More Power" line of thinking. It doesn't cost very much extra to put the biggest panel available, but it sure will if you do it later on when the drywall is up and you are having to replace the dinkey one you put in to save money on in the first place. And no, I am not paid on a commission. I just want to see my customers get the biggest bang for their buck.

Dog1

rusted
02-19-2004, 01:37 AM
From the research I've done, I'm getting the GE or the SD Homeline. My final decision will be based on which one I like better inside, and how it will work in my particular installation. Both brands of breaker are readily available in my area, in the 25 years I've lived in houses with breakers, I don't remember replacing even ONE of them anyway.

I am going to start a thread tomorrow asking about the size of my service conductors, and what I can do to get them upgraded.