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Thread: Hot Breakers

  1. #1
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    Default Hot Breakers

    The deadfront cover on this panel was /warm/hot to the touch. As you can see from the attached pic, the surface temperature of breakers was pretty hot.

    The thing is that this is a brand new house, vacant with nothing in any of the rooms. The only thing that was running were both AC units throughout the inspection and some general lighting.

    At what point are breakers too hot and what could be the cause? The panel had quite a few AFCI breakers so I don't know if these are more predisposed to heat buildup than standard breakers.

    Thoughts?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    That is one of the problems with AFCIs early ones reccommended that multiple breakers should not be grouped I understand that it has been solved and that the 42 space rule for panels was removed for this purpose.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    The deadfront cover on this panel was /warm/hot to the touch. As you can see from the attached pic, the surface temperature of breakers was pretty hot.

    The thing is that this is a brand new house, vacant with nothing in any of the rooms. The only thing that was running were both AC units throughout the inspection and some general lighting.

    At what point are breakers too hot and what could be the cause? The panel had quite a few AFCI breakers so I don't know if these are more predisposed to heat buildup than standard breakers.

    Thoughts?
    Nick, what is the problem only 5 or 6 degrees above ambient temperature today, that is not warm at all.

    Seriously, what was the ambient temperature?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Nick, what is the problem only 5 or 6 degrees above ambient temperature today, that is not warm at all.

    Seriously, what was the ambient temperature?

    86 degrees.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    So only a 26 degree rise, not a problem in my opinion but it might get my attention also in a vacant house with no loads on.
    I wonder how much "phantom" energy use these little marvels account for in the average house? With more concern every day over power consumption on phone chargers, TV, etc. when supposedly off, I have to think a whole panel full of these energy suckers would begin to register on the radar.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    The panel probably had about 15 AFCI breakers.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    The deadfront cover on this panel was /warm/hot to the touch. As you can see from the attached pic, the surface temperature of breakers was pretty hot.

    The thing is that this is a brand new house, vacant with nothing in any of the rooms. The only thing that was running were both AC units throughout the inspection and some general lighting.

    At what point are breakers too hot and what could be the cause? The panel had quite a few AFCI breakers so I don't know if these are more predisposed to heat buildup than standard breakers.

    Thoughts?

    Early on Square D had a batch of AFCI's that were recalled. Those may be the ones check it with Google.

    Mike


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    The Square D AFCI with the white trip button are the newest combination type, not the recalled ones that had either a blue or green trip button.


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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    So any thoughts as to whether or not 113 degrees is too hot or is normal surface temperature on a batch of breakers? The thing that I don't like is that the house is brand new, vacant, with nothing plugged in anywhere. Just the two AC units running and general lighting on inside the house. I can't help but wonder how hot the breakers may get once the people move in and start using those circuits.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    GFI's and AFCI's are always warmer. Here's a crappy pic of my panel I just shot for you. They are not, however SD's.
    Image below...

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    oops...

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    Brand-new house doesn't mean brand-new, or recently manufactured, or legitimately manufactured equipment having been installed (or purchased from legimately authorized and legitimate supply sourced entity). Builder's, contractors, and individuals acquiring from questionable sources to save money....can get scammed.

    45C not necessarily any concern.


    Always suspicious in "brand new" all at once installations and seeing multiple series version/lot/sourced on otherwise identical breakers.

    Did you check any date codes?

    Despite attempts to "blow up" cannot read "stickers". Cannot see country of origin info - immediately suspicious of counterfeit when not seeing same. No proof of supply chain, purchase, from legitimate sources.

    Hundreds of thousands (actually estimated to be millions) of counterfeit, already having traced to origin Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico have already been discovered. Of those prosecuted, hundreds of thousands DETECTED via the few proven incidents of supply chain import remain unaccounted for. Estimated millions more undetected. Discovery and raids in Mainland China in recent years have additionally located hundreds of thousands - with little ability to detect/trace/discover history or records of what, how many, how long, and where, regarding prior operations of same. Additionally, another "dirty little secret" is not just the breakers are being counterfeit - load centers and panels are too.

    Schneider has a whole website zone dedicated to "counterfeit". Limited parts of it are "general public" access. Not much activity or updating going on on that site area since its inception and locking out public access for recall and legitimate confirmations - suspect due to so many more out there then originally schneider thought, desipite injunctions granted years ago against a dozen or so distributors caught red-handed, only half-dozen or so recalls, some not until years afterwards have been effected (not forced) by those distributors, many less-than successful AND the "press" about counterfeiting "problem" was/is doing "damage" to the "value"/"prestige" of the "brand".

    They do not disclose or update "properietary" or trade secrets, this includes some of their updated features. You can get technical specs and info on other areas of their site.

    SquareD/Schneider Electric can determine if genuine, and if genuine - not having been recalled. IIRC the recalled Comb HOM-AFIs had blue test buttons, check the CPSC site and/or Schneider site for press release(s) regarding the recall, think it might have been about 2004-ish. Don't remember it was before or after robertson-slot screws.

    Unknown panel, characteristics, etc. circuit "check" operations of the combination device can utilize electricity despite lack of utilization/load on circuit itself, depending on wiring.

    Some interesting links, regarding counterfeit issues, limited recalls of same (by distributor entities caught and sued, and court-ordered, but recalls not issued until afterwards, and often not until responsible party is just about to go "poof"; amongst many "known" and many more "theorized" to be in the market place and already having been installed) and some FAQ info regarding prior changes in design, wiring issues, etc. (not up to date to latest info, was pre-2005) explore schneider's site for more info.

    http://www.squared.com/us/squared/co...ersRelease.pdf

    http://www.squared.com/us/squared/co...sNEMANov07.pdf

    Feb 1, 2008 article about counterfeiting intellectual property, highlighting problems detecting, fighting, and stopping Square D HOM and QO counterfeiting:

    Industry Week article, "Fighting The IP (intellectual property) Wars:

    IndustryWeek : Fighting The IP Wars



    New" security features for QO breakers (power point presentation): Link (yeah, I know yours are HOM):

    http://www.schneider-electric.us/?Li...F38&showMeta=0


    FAQ's

    From (link):
    http://search.schneider-electric.us/...5ODU3LjAwMDAw"

    Q: Are there any restrictions to using a HOM115AFI or HOM120AFI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) in a HOMELINE loadcenter?

    A: Yes, there are restrictions. A HOM-AFI breaker cannot be used in any version of HOM2-4 loadcenter. Also, although a HOM-AFI breaker can be used in any version of HOM6-12L100 or HOM8-16L100, their use will restrict the loadcenter`s incoming conductors to a #3 AWG maximum, due to wire ``S`` bend radius requirement in UL67.

    From (link): The AFCI is operating correctly and in accordance with UL1699, which makes no provision for use of 2/2 conductor cable with the AFCI at the time this document was created. The fixed wiring is providing a voltage that is back feeding the AFCI and keep

    Q: Homeline or QO AFI and are using the new wire with two lines, two neutrals and a ground. It may not reset properly.

    A: The AFCI is operating correctly and in accordance with UL1699, which makes no provision for use of 2/2 conductor cable with the AFCI at the time this document was created. The fixed wiring is providing a voltage that is back feeding the AFCI and keeping the AFCIs electronics operating due to their extreme low power requirements. Unless the cable run lengths approaches distances in excess of 100ft., there should be no issue resetting the AFCI from the tripped position. However there are a number of factors that can both increase and decrease this distance, such as connecting the 2/2 cable in a different manner, like using the white and red conductors as the line conductors which reduces the distance to about 35ft. There are concepts to eliminate this back feeding issue that will be explored in future AFCI designs. Until then the solution is to open the circuit breaker protecting the other circuit sharing the 2/2 cable, or having a load present on the AFCI.

    From (link):
    This was in the E-News for December 3, 2004: December marks the beginning in a series of minor modifications to the line of Square D Homeline circuit breakers. The line of single-pole Homeline circuit breakers will now have a slightly modified appear

    This was in the E-News for December 3, 2004: December marks the beginning in a series of minor modifications to the line of Square D Homeline circuit breakers. The line of single-pole Homeline circuit breakers will now have a slightly modified appear

    Q: Why are the HOM breakers hollowed out?

    A: This was in the E-News for December 3, 2004: December marks the beginning in a series of minor modifications to the line of Square D Homeline circuit breakers. The line of single-pole Homeline circuit breakers will now have a slightly modified appearance, reflecting some minor changes in our production processes. However, the form, fit and function remains the same, delivering the same cost-effective performance our customers have come to expect in Homeline circuit breakers. In addition, our testing indicates that there may be a slight reduction in heat rise with this redesign, which may offer advantages in areas of the Southeast and Western United States.

    In early 2005 this modification will also be incorporated into two-pole Homeline circuit breakers. In addition, the Homeline circuit breakers will be upgraded to include a slot Robertson screw, enhancing ease of installation for many electrical contractors. Stay tuned for additional updates in 2005 as we continue to improve the versatile, cost-effective features of Square D Homeline circuit breakers.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 08-07-2010 at 11:16 AM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    Found this on a Siemens FAQ website about AFCIs:

    Could an AFCI feel warmer than other breakers in the same panel?

    An AFCI breaker may feel warmer to the touch than a non-AFCI circuit breaker. This is due to the heat generated from the power supply for the electronics. Siemens AFCI breakers tested in an average ambient temperature of 23 C (73 F) operated at an average temperature of 38 C (100 F.) This is well within the UL Standard 489 Section 7.1.4.1.3 which states - Temperature rises on handles, knobs, and other surfaces subject to user contact during normal operation shall not exceed 60C (140F) on nonmetallic surfaces. It is warm enough to detect with the hand, but this heat does not impact the operation of the AFCI.

    Now this info is for Siemens AFCIs but according to this, 113 degrees is still within their accepted tolerances and the temperature on the breaker handles will likely be lower. But I still can't help but wonder how much of a temperature rise these breakers will exhibit when placed under a load.

    Last edited by Nick Ostrowski; 08-08-2010 at 10:29 AM.
    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    Nick, from reading that info, it seems that they would be that temperature load or no load. If the circuit was close to capacity you might pick up some more temperature, but you should still be below what they say.

    Paul Kondzich
    Ft. Myers, FL.

  15. #15
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    If you can work it out....put the breaker in question in the panel so it is in spot with no other breaker nearby. Take the wire off the breaker and take a temp reading of the breaker. Then take a drop cord and connect it to the breaker and plug in a 1500 watt space heater. That should draw about 12 amps. Let in run for a while and take a temp reading. That should give you an idea of what is going on under load. Of course all of this may not be okay with the builder!

    I love field test!


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    WOW H.G.!!!!! That's some exhausting information. Thank you for that. I guess the need for more knowledge in our profession is never ending. You are an asset to us all.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Hot Breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitchell Toelle View Post
    WOW H.G.!!!!! That's some exhausting information. Thank you for that. I guess the need for more knowledge in our profession is never ending. You are an asset to us all.
    Aww shucks, you're welcome, and thank you.

    Found proporionally higher incidents of counterfeit panels, and legitimate panels but counterfeit breakers having been installed in post disaster reconstruction/remediations. I.e. flooding, hurricane, tornado events. Trace activities of same entities work sprinkled throughout same neighborhoods and found more of same.


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