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  1. #1
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    Default Double breaker position in GE panel

    In this 1962 GE service panel, an electrician has installed a red 60 amp breaker to feed a remote panel. Is it acceptable to have the thin breakers in the upper section of the buses and the large breakers below, the way they are arranged here? I'm looking at the label, but am not sure if the narrow lines below mean this is the only section where narrow breakers are permitted?

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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    From the label pictured, only the last 2 spaces on each row is allowed to have a twin breaker installed in those spaces. BTW the breakers w/ the blue & red handles are Bryant/Westinghouse/Cutler-Hammer breakers not GE, the others are old style GE...


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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Thanks Rollie. Do you happen to know the reasoning behind the labelled rule? The twin breakers appear to share the same bus, no matter where they are installed in that panel.

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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    JK, sometimes there is a rejection feature built in to limit the number of tandems.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Bill Kreigh and others should review those pictures.Proof positive that NON GE breakers can be "installed" into GE panels on GE busses, esp. those breakers marked "replacement only" (Classified not OEM Listed breakers).The labeled Listed instructions ALWAYS apply. Limitations and older Listing parameters regarding temp, buss ratings, SCCR ratings used to be based on projected calculations not actual testing and measurements under load for every parameter - (esp. pre 84/5) thus stab rating limitations, etc. NOT all covered by the CTL provisions started in the 60s, which were subsequently advanced and expanded.


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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Michael Thomas
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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Yes, the subjects discussed therein many times, the source and reference (albiet vague and in recent case incorrectly identifying the source article by a west coast poster who did not respond to a counter question as to the actual sourced article, a few times. Also related subject matter articles from other authors, prior editions, of the ASHI Reporter, as well as other sources.

    However, there are a few inaccurate statements in the ASHI article you referenced from Feb 2011, but the main ideas are mostly correct, which are discussed.

    What is and is not a "tandem" is not correctly defined. "Thins" are not "tandems", Panels manufactured before UL's development of the "circuit limiting" denotation "CTL" can physically be outfitted with breakers manufactured later - and "CTL" features can be defeated with even UL Listed and marked "CTL" panels manufactured prior to the late 80s, and even "CTL" panels can have labeled limiations and wiring diagrams ignored.

    The panel pictured by J.K. was neither Listed nor Labeled to UL Standards nor for the U.S. market - and its declared vinage (1962) pre-dates any "CTL" and was not then nor now applicable to the NEC. Standards then 1962 and now continue to be distincly different regarding Canada, and specifically B.C.; etc.

    The panel itself is one that was never designed to support more than 16 circuits, the position of same and size of MCCBs was limited from its date of manufacture, was not designed to support more than a protected supply of 100 A to the MAINS, not support any Branch Circuit Breaker with a rating greater than 70A, nor have a cumulative total of the ratings for any and all MCCBs installed on any buss exceed 300A worth of devices ratings per pole) irrespective of the "worked" current upon same (irrespective of load calculations, etc.). The Label pictured (inclusive of its language and wiring diagram) "identifies" specifically the types (and sizes) of circuit breakers which may be installed in same and specifically WHERE same may be installed, and the limitations for same.

    I am not aware of any UL Canada "Classification" for MCCBs then or now. Unlike the U.S. the local power authority has "power" of approval over equipment connected thereto. Also discussed here before, many times.

    The history of safety requirements, manufacturing requirements, parameters, authority, heirarchy, form of government, etc. time lines, etc. are so different Canada vs. US, and the lack of harmonization that remains still, its not much worth comparing or discussing when it comes to "vintage" equipment.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 06-09-2011 at 01:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Tandems are commonly called "thins" since you have 2 breaker mechanisms that fit is the space typically taken by one breaker.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    The twin breakers appear to share the same bus, no matter where they are installed in that panel.
    The top two share the same bus, the bottom two share the same bus, there will be 240 volts between the top and bottom breakers, and between the center two breakers.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    The top two share the same bus, the bottom two share the same bus, there will be 240 volts between the top and bottom breakers, and between the center two breakers.
    Right, thanks, Jerry.
    Sorry everybody, for rehashing this old subject, but when trained and qualified electricians give this type of installation their blessing, I just start to doubt what I'm seeing.

    Since I don't pull breakers to see if they've been altered, I guess I am wondering if there is an inherent danger in having the tandems or thins in the upper part of the panel, regardless of the label infraction. This is not a NEC question. Is it liable to start a fire?

    Last edited by John Kogel; 06-09-2011 at 04:47 PM.
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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    The panel in question was built prior to the current "CTL"panelboard standard, a pre 1968 panel...


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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    This is not a NEC question. Is it liable to start a fire?
    I learn so much on this forum, and it's fun to know there are people with the level of knowledge demonstrated in this thread. On the other hand, John, I am obviously really wrong to say this, but my first thought is, if this panel has been like this for 50 years, no, it isn't likely to start a fire now. (Joking, sir, joking.)


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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    A few observations. I don't see a remote possiblity that an inspector from your electrical safety authoriity, "hydro" or whatever would allow this condition to remain - your so-called "properly trained electrician's" questionably claimed 'opinion' aside. If the field markings on the cover and schedule are to be remotely believed - no way.

    This panel has had several generations of unqualified work and modifications. Originally was a 2-wire (no ecgs) install. Bootleg "grounds" have been added. "subpanel" if not a straight 240 is problematic - parallel A (black) hot.

    Yeah, dangerous and hazardous to persons & property, and any other property and the system - for any other property sharing the same leg off the transformer (center tap) - backfeed in certain trip events, etc. As presently configured and installed is unsafe.

    This vintage and obsolete panel has minimal wiring space (fill)- wiring has been allowed to encroach on areas required to be open for heat dissapation, clearance from live parts, etc.l

    There is really no excuse for what has been installed and where, as the panel could have been properly wired in the field to accomodate what is apparently present - but as presented is completely and totally unsafe to persons and regards to protecting what has been connected to it.

    Keeping in mind the vintage requirements regarding split receptacles MWBC in kitchens for example the situation at 1&2 is especially concerning.

    Keeping in mind the problematic undersized neutrals, undersized ecgs and the use of slotted screws upon the case and parallel neutrals, in addition to the parallel undersized "black" hot for the "subpanel" breaker, observe the following:

    At 7/8 you have a very concerning situation - parallel & shared 220 dryer & "greenhouse" dryer no neutral - unbalanced load through "greenhouse".

    Jumped landing on neutral from L & R side of panel.

    Apparently zip cord wiring.

    MWBC incorrectly wired

    No common trip for 240 dryer - with breaker type and locations incorrect location sharing with another circuit(s) presenting a hazard at both the dryer (2-wire, undersized or non-existant grnd) and the "greenhouse".

    "heater" circuits concerning, as is "furnace" questioned.

    1 & 3 convenience receptacle or lighting circuits worrisome.

    Lacking required number of neturals, even if properly wired and some circuits are straight 240V dedicated loads.

    Supply to buss appears undersized.

    Concern is no means to open all hot conductors in the event of a trip - objectional current on other circuit conductors and OTHER circuit conductors.

    The installation would not and could not pass ESA inspection/muster. Modifications unsafe, unqualifed work, no permit, no inspections.

    Intermediate stripping feed-through a lug is similarly wrong but frankly worse than double tapping a N - esp sharing the unterminated conductur between two circuits on opposite sides of the panel. Terminate requires a physical "end" upon a "terminal" (place to "land" an "end").

    Small guage stranded grnds multiply sharing terminations to can back under pan heads - some of which appear to be from 2-wire plus undersized grnd 240 appliances/circuits.

    Would it be a fair assumption that the "greenhouse" is a separate structure, detached or an attached "addition". Would it be a fair assumption that "heater" is electric resistance heat and "furnace" is a fuel fired one requiring a 120V supply?

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 06-10-2011 at 09:38 AM.

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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Rollie Meyers View Post
    The panel in question was built prior to the current "CTL"panelboard standard, a pre 1968 panel...
    Yes, I made that point already. However the "standards", history, etc. not the same for Canada; then or now.

    CTL panelboards still require following the labeling restrictions and diagram.

    CTL, the UL contraction designation for US L&APBs, stands for circuit limiting not current limiting. CTL panelboards are not allowed to be fitted with MCCBs not CTL designated; nor with those marked "for replacement only". Pre-CTL panelboards are not to be fitted with breaker sizes or styles not indicated in their labeling nor those classified to be installed in a specific panelboard designated by precise catalog number in the classified MCCB's classified listing.

    Field installations in opposite to the panelboard's certification, acceptance, labeling, and wiring diagram are not compliant.


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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    I get where you're coming from, but that panel directory is incorrect. The dryer breaker has been moved but the writing on the panel was never crossed out. I see this so often, I tend to ignore the directory and look beyond.

    I think if you were there it would be more clear. The remote panel has many of the circuits now which have been transferred from this one, without corrections to the legend. Forget the legend, it is wrong. I see the two blacks on the thin breakers, but they are not necessarily MWBCs. The black and the red possibly are, so yes, a tie-bar would be needed. I don't see zip cord.
    The slot head grounding terminals on the back of the panel are a Canadian phenomenon. We never terminate grounding wires on the neutral bus, so you will recall the old panels had screws like that for that purpose.

    Anyway, thanks for looking. These are puzzles we need to deal with sometimes, and I frankly don't have the time to trace all these circuits to their terminations., and check to see if they're labeled correctly. That is why we ask for an electrician to check the mess out.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 06-10-2011 at 11:36 AM.
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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Hi, ALL &

    Know this wasn't the question posed -- but:

    An easy fix is to just not 'doubt /wonder' what is needed & replace that old system.

    According to a MASTER Eletrician I've spoken to, anything over 45 years = "get rid of it", as can be very difficult, to impossible to get replacement components - at least 'up here' in BC. Canada...


    CHEERS !

    -Glenn Duxbury, CHI

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    Default Re: Double breaker position in GE panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn Duxbury View Post
    Hi, ALL &

    Know this wasn't the question posed -- but:

    An easy fix is to just not 'doubt /wonder' what is needed & replace that old system.

    According to a MASTER Eletrician I've spoken to, anything over 45 years = "get rid of it", as can be very difficult, to impossible to get replacement components - at least 'up here' in BC. Canada...


    CHEERS !
    Thanks, Glenn. Note to Sparky. "Check" it or "chuck" it, is up to "U".

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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