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  1. #1
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    Default Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    I thought this was ingenious, haven't seen a transfer switch the likes of this one.

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Some people are just too clever. The handles are bolted together so it's all 'safe'.

    Now that the house is being sold, he can go buy the new people a proper transfer switch, eh?

    Raymond, be prepared for - 'Hey, that's a FPE panel And it is mounted sideways, too'.

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Did you recommend a professional inspect the vintage boxes?

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Hey that's an FPE panel and its mounted sideways too!

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    The person who purchased the property is a licenced electrician.

    Our rules up here permit horizontal installation.

    Many FPE/Stablock panels up here. Not the problem up here like state side.


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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    The person who purchased the property is a licenced electrician.

    Our rules up here permit horizontal installation.

    Many FPE/Stablock panels up here. Not the problem up here like state side.
    Ray, thanks for the update & clarification.
    Looked like a professional installation.

    As long as the panel/case/box can be retrofit/modified and the installer accredited / licensed with current credentials, more power to them.

    I typically recommend verification.

    I think the confusion lay within the acronym (FPE)
    (1) Federal Pacific Electric (Stab-Lok) were the manufacturers. (State-side)
    (2) Schnider Electric: Federal Pioneer (Electric) (Stab-loc) (Loadmaster) panels + Arc fault interrupters, Generators Panels & RV Panels.
    Side note: If you look at the case letters, upper and lower, in stab-loc, they help identify the manufacturer.

    I see state-side components in Quebec every now and then. PB or polybutylene is acceptable by insurance companies my clients have called in Montreal. PB speedways can be common in homes I inspect circa 1978 until 1995.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Robert,

    I just had two Square D panels installed and both were installed horizontally and ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) inspector had no issues and passed the installation.

    The Cdn Electrical Code does not specify nor state panel installation must be vertical fwiw.


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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    I concur with your post.
    Hope my comments did not reflect otherwise.

    Ray, I pass on any liability when I am unsure.
    I ask my clients to reach out to the vendors agent to ensure installation verification.
    Nice looking work but I would pass on the liability.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Your the king mate:-)

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    I just had two Square D panels installed and both were installed horizontally and ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) inspector had no issues and passed the installation.

    The Cdn Electrical Code does not specify nor state panel installation must be vertical fwiw.
    Raymond,

    Q1: Does the manufacturer of the panel and/or breakers specify a mounting direction, i.e., the operation of overcurrent devices to be horizontally, vertically with 'on' being up, or rotary, etc.? The heat rise in the panel is greatly affected by the orientation of the panel and all testing of such which I am currently aware of is with the panels oriented vertically (unless specified otherwise - such as a large square enclosure, then the direction of the enclosure would not matter, however, the direction of the panelboard inside the enclosure would still matter.

    Q2: Does the CEC specify the direction of operation of overcurrent devices, i.e., horizontally, vertically with 'on' being up, or rotary?

    It only makes sense that the manufacturers would specify that 'on' is up to eliminate gravity from operating a breaker down to 'on' if not horizontally or rotary operation, and (down here in the states) the NEC specifies the direction to be horizontally, vertically with 'on' being up, or rotary.

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Jerry

    Q1. My FPL panel on data plate says vertical or horizontal mounting.

    Q2. No, there is no specification mentioned in the CEC other than height - minimum of 47 inches yet to maintain proper access to top breakers without having to stand on a chair. In such cases the only practical solution may be to mount the panel in a horizontal position (from Electrical Code Simplified)

    Will check the Square D panel to see if orientation is specified and will post finding.

    Thanks.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Jerry

    Square D data plate states -

    This panel board is approved for mounting on a vertical wall with line at the top, bottom, or to either side.


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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Raymond,

    'Square D data plate states -'

    'This panel board is approved for mounting on a vertical wall with line at the top, bottom, or to either side.'

    Thank you - that would not be allowed down here in the states ... just one more difference between the NEC and the CEC.

    Some of the CEC stuff is more restrictive than the NEC and some is less restrictive - go figure?

    I don't write either, so the lack of consistency is not my fault.

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Thanks Jerry,

    Glad you were able to read it upside down.


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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Thanks Jerry,

    Glad you were able to read it upside down.
    Ray, you never know, he might have been doing an inverted yoga posture taught to him by the great Swami yogananda, Rishikesh when he was looking for the greater meaning of AHJ and now capable of reading data plates in any position.
    reading upside down image.JPG
    That's an image of his past life's soul mate after they came back from their first pilgrimage in India.
    You never know, it could have happened.


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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Many FPE/Stablock panels up here. Not the problem up here like state side.
    About 15 million FPE's down here in the lower 48. I'm replacing one in a fixer-upper that I'm doing. But I am unaware of any differences between FPE's here and up in the great frozen north. So, when you say "not a problem up here like state side", do you mean that there is less awareness about them in Canada or that they have a smaller failure rate there?

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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Lon

    Panels made up here had fewer problems then the units in the stats.

    http://inspectapedia.com/fpe/FPE_Fir..._to_Happen.php

    Also


    Commission Closes Investigation Of FPE Circuit Breakers And Provides Safety Information For Consumers - March 03, 1983

    http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News...For-Consumers/


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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    If I may help,
    The manufacturing and manufacturer are two different brands and manufacturing styes.
    Federal Pacific Electric
    Federal Pioneer Electric (Schneider Electric)

    Federal Pacific breakers were the Achilles Heel.

    IMO, stab loc systems have earned a poor reputation.
    The fact that the conductor/wire can be stabbed into a outlet or switch make the contact point less dependable as compared to a terminal screw or lug that will insure a better contact when the proper torque is applied.

    Ray, IMO, Dan F. muddies the waters a bit in this particular FPE article.
    He did not divide the two manufacturers and supply good data. Could just be me.

    The acronym FPE is all they shared.
    Even stabloc is not spelt the same.

    Hope that helps Lon.

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Lon

    Panels made up here had fewer problems then the units in the stats.

    http://inspectapedia.com/fpe/FPE_Fir..._to_Happen.php

    Also


    Commission Closes Investigation Of FPE Circuit Breakers And Provides Safety Information For Consumers - March 03, 1983

    http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News...For-Consumers/
    I've read both of these articles several times over the years. There's nothing in them to support the supposition that Canadian FPE panels are different. And BTW, the CPSC letter is often mis-characterized as not finding a problem with FPE, but in fact, it says that the CPSC will not spend the money to investigate FPE panels.

    Here's a better Inspectapedia article about Canadian FPE panels.

    http://inspectapedia.com/fpe/Federal...tric_Panel.php

    It's theorized that there may be fewer reports of problems in Canada due to manufacturing differences, but no confirmation. The article and other sources mention a lower total number of complaints in Canada but do not address the number as a percentage of total FPEs in use in Canada. I'll suggest without any way of knowing, that maybe the number of complaints in Canada is a similar percentage to the complaint percentage in the US where there are likely far more panels installed and therefore a higher number of complaints.

    In another Inspectapedia article, there's a letter from a Toronto resident claiming that his FPE panel is designed differently. The Federal Pioneer recall in Canada years ago didn't include Federal Pacific labelled equipment but asked for verification and evidence that Pioneer products were different from US made FPE products. Ive never seen a definitive answer to that question.

    Here's a link to a forum where one Canadian electrician is under the impression that FPE's in Canada are bad.

    http://www.electriciantalk.com/f31/c...reakers-27481/

    Since I've butted heads with real estate agents, a few electricians, and a few owner's of FPE panels over the years, I am very up-to-speed on FPE panels (down in the states). If FPEs are different in Canada, then so be it, but I can't find definitive evidence that they are different.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Thanks for the info.

    The info appears to be piece meal or inconclusive about fire hazards at least from a Cdn. pov.

    While my inspections are like the rest of you visual in nature I have not seen problems with panel failures. However there was the 1997 recall affecting 15 amp breakers. But since that time to my knowledge there have not been any recalls or any Canadian agencies issuing any recalls or condemnations of the various products manufactured by FPE other than the breaker noted above.

    Nor to my knowledge is there an insurance concern from Cdn insurers unlike aluminum, 60 amp service, knob and tube.

    As with other manufactures I still see the same repetitive problems which are:
    - Loose breakers
    - Double taps
    - Scorched buss bar(s)
    - Loose connections
    - Broken tab handles
    - Missing bridges for double pole breaker(s)

    Further the Electrical Safety Authority has no info on concerns that I can see, fwiw.
    http://www.esasafe.com/about-esa/ser...&submit=Search


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    As with other manufactures I still see the same repetitive problems which are:
    - Loose breakers
    - Double taps
    - Scorched buss bar(s)
    - Loose connections
    - Broken tab handles
    - Missing bridges for double pole breaker(s)
    Raymond,

    What other brands have you found with loose breaker issues?

    Zinsco was known for scorched/burnt/melted bus bars.

    The other things you listed are not manufacturer related - they are installation/abuse/misuse related.

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Jerry

    Square D can have lose breakers.

    Electrical Distribution Panels & Circuit Breaker Fires


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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Bulldog ITE Pushmatic. Rare when I see them but usually 1950 vintage homes.
    Just assessed a commercial/residential with these vintage obsolete aux. panels.
    3 phase with Amalgamated safety switch.

    PS: Thank's Lon.
    I had not read that article.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 01-13-2016 at 01:27 PM.
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Jerry

    Square D can have lose breakers.

    Electrical Distribution Panels & Circuit Breaker Fires
    Raymond,

    Thank you for that link and information.

    The issue I was referring to was that (at least here in the states) FPE breakers are known for being loose ... as in 'remove the dead front cover and the breakers fall out' (more like they seem to 'jump out' at you) ... that is what I thought you were referring to when you said you had seen loose FPE breakers.

    I haven't heard of that happening with any other manufacturer - just FPE.

    Yes, it is possible for any breaker to be loose, even bolt-on*type breakers (although much less likely with bolt-on type breakers).

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    I've read both of these articles several times over the years. There's nothing in them to support the supposition that Canadian FPE panels are different.

    It's theorized that there may be fewer reports of problems in Canada due to manufacturing differences, but no confirmation. If FPEs are different in Canada, then so be it, but I can't find definitive evidence that they are different.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post

    The issue I was referring to was that (at least here in the states) FPE breakers are known for being loose ... as in 'remove the dead front cover and the breakers fall out' (more like they seem to 'jump out' at you) ... that is what I thought you were referring to when you said you had seen loose FPE breakers.
    Lon, the other guys have said this - Inspectapedia is not an authority on the Canadian Federal Pioneer panels. You need to come up and visit a few homes in Canada.
    The Canadian Federal Pacific and Federal Pioneers are most certainly different products than the breaker panels you see that were from the factory in Newark, NJ. The Canadian Federal Pacific factory was in Toronto and there was not much cross-border trade in those days. Since the late 1960's Canadian StabLok breakers were made by a new company, Federal Pioneer. Schneider Electric owns that brand as well as Square D. They also have a Schneider brand panel that uses CH style breakers. All manufactured in Toronto, or maybe now in China, who knows?

    JP, I have opened 1000's of Federal Pioneer panels and have not had breakers fall out. In fact, they are one of the easiest and therefore safest panels to remove covers from.

    Sometimes the OLD Federal Pacifics can have loose breakers, but they are also over 50 years old and due for replacement.

    I went through this all with KW, who got his education from InterNACHI. If you inspect in Canada you need to learn the difference between the old Canadian FPE's, the old and faulty US FPE's and the newer Schneider Electric Federal Pioneers, which also are prevalent in Europe, BTW.

    I am not sure why anybody would insist there is still a problem. You need pics? I estimated once that 40% of the panels I open are FP's. So in ten million Canadian houses, maybe 4 million have FP panels in them.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 01-13-2016 at 05:28 PM.
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    What other brands have you found with loose breaker issues?
    Sorry Jerry, I am not Raymond but looked into ITE and other panel breakers.
    https://forums.mikeholt.com/showthread.php?t=108408
    ITE Bull Dog Pushmatic beakers.

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    What other brands have you found with loose breaker issues?
    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Sorry Jerry, I am not Raymond but looked into ITE and other panel breakers.
    https://forums.mikeholt.com/showthread.php?t=108408
    ITE Bull Dog Pushmatic beakers.
    Robert,

    I didn't see anything in that link about loose breakers ... but I may have missed the loose breakers part?

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Jerry,
    Sorry, I misinterpreted you question.
    Wrong link as well.
    Bulldog & ITE Pushmatic Circuit Breakers & Electrical Panels - Safety Advice & Field Failure Reports

    Although your concern involves loose breakers, ones that fall off the bus bar, certain series of PushMatic breaker mechanisms are noted as being loose allowing the circuit to overload.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 01-19-2016 at 10:47 AM.
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Jerry,
    Sorry, I misinterpreted you question.
    Wrong link as well.
    Bulldog & ITE Pushmatic Circuit Breakers & Electrical Panels - Safety Advice & Field Failure Reports

    Although your concern involves loose breakers, ones that fall off the bus bar, certain series of PushMatic breaker mechanisms are noted as being loose allowing the circuit to overload.
    Ahh ... but everything which survives long enough to age will have age related issues, that is not a 'defect', that is simply a fact that things age and become less reliable with age, and that everything includes circuit breakers - I am not aware of what a 'typical life expectancy' for circuit breakers is, but anything which which approaches 30-40 years old should not necessarily be considered as 'safe' just because there has not been a problem with it - yet - .

    At what point should breakers be summarily replaced because of their age? I do not have that answer, but I would suspect it would be at sometime before 1,000 years of age. Okay, 1,000 is a very long time, should it be 500 years? 250 years? 100 years? 50 years? I am sure that you see where I am going - circuit breakers should not be, and are not, expected to last 'forever', so when should circuit breakers be summarily replaced because of their age?

    Should a 1970's GE, Square D, Siemens, etc. panel have all of its breakers replaced because they are now 40+ years old? Do they still work as they were intended? How many random samples have been removed from the various panels and sent back for testing to make sure they still operate as they were designed and intended to operate? None? or should that be

    Questions, questions, questions ... anyone have those answers?

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I am not aware of what a 'typical life expectancy' for circuit breakers is, but anything which which approaches 30-40 years old should not necessarily be considered as 'safe' just because there has not been a problem with it - yet - .

    At what point should breakers be summarily replaced because of their age? IQuestions, questions, questions ... anyone have those answers?
    Here is what Schneider has to say about the plastic Trilliant panels - 25 years old and obsolete.

    Schneider
    "Square D no longer manufactures the TRILLIANT product line. ALL of the Trilliant replacement parts(covers, interiors, main breakers, boxes, etc) are Obsolete and no longer available, except for a very limited number of branch breakers."

    "Check the system for availability for any branch breakers, an example catalog number is SDT120(single pole, 20amp). Contact Square D at 888-778-2733 for further information. The customer would need to consider replacing the complete load center with a QO or Homeline."

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    1: Ahh ... but everything which survives long enough to age will have age related issues,
    2: At what point should breakers be summarily replaced because of their age?
    1: I concur.
    Jerry, Obsolete or vintage is a matter of fact/life.
    BullDog PushMatic were a Cadillac electrical centers in their day.
    The amount of defective incidence triggers consumer awareness. The government intervenes when their is loss of life or repeat house hold disasters.


    2: As long as a manufacturer is continuing a line series, like EATON for Sylvania, Commander, etc... then the product is deemed safe by a third party willing to solidify product reputation and consumer demand.
    Once the demand is not meet then safety sets the tone.

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Here is what Schneider has to say about the plastic Trilliant panels - 25 years old and obsolete.

    Schneider
    "Square D no longer manufactures the TRILLIANT product line. ALL of the Trilliant replacement parts(covers, interiors, main breakers, boxes, etc) are Obsolete and no longer available, except for a very limited number of branch breakers."

    "Check the system for availability for any branch breakers, an example catalog number is SDT120(single pole, 20amp). Contact Square D at 888-778-2733 for further information. The customer would need to consider replacing the complete load center with a QO or Homeline."
    I have not run across many Trilliant panels. I think 3 in total. One Aluminum modular home did stick out.
    I did not know the history. Thanks, I will review the report again.

    This is from a thread I manage to run across.
    "Square D Trilliant SDT series circuit breaker panel which is no longer made by Square D. When Square D was taken over by a french company in 1991 they actually stopped making them. Here is a better picture of the breaker that goes in that panel and I do not know of any recall or problem with it...just moved away from the design."

    https://www.nachi.org/forum/f19/hell...eed-him-14826/

    Post #3. John A. is an authority there. Hell of a nice guy by the way.

    Enjoy.

    Sorry for the edits.


    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 01-21-2016 at 05:32 AM.
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    2: As long as a manufacturer is continuing a line series, like EATON for Sylvania, Commander, etc... then the product is deemed safe by a third party willing to solidify product reputation and consumer demand.
    Once the demand is not meet then safety sets the tone.
    That part makes no sense to me - a manufacturer continuing to make breakers for an old and obsolete panel does not mean that they have deemed the panel to be safe.

    That would be up to the person installing the breaker ... not the manufacturer which made the breaker.

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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Poor wording on my part.
    Financially, they feel safe continuing a line of circuit breakers for obsolete or vintage panels.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 01-21-2016 at 12:17 PM.
    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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  34. #34
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    To further the discussion, "low voltage circuit breaker ie,(ANSI)life cycle of a mechanical switching device, capable of making, carrying and breaking currents under normal circuit conditions. Also capable of making and carrying for a specified time and breaking currents under specified abnormal circuit conditions, such as those of a short circuit."
    So UL or (CPSC)? 30 to 40 years from what I have read.
    What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker?

    This is from EATON
    http://www.eaton.eu/ecm/groups/publi.../ct_129977.pdf

    Poor wording on my part.
    So sorry Jerry!
    Thanks for the nudge in the right direction.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
    Our Motto; Putting information where you need it most, "In your hands.”

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Homemade Generator Transfer Switch

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ahh ... but everything which survives long enough to age will have age related issues, that is not a 'defect', that is simply a fact that things age and become less reliable with age, and that everything includes circuit breakers
    One of my colleagues, Mike, offered a few answers regarding breaker and bus designs that might result in CBs jumping out at us. As I know he's quite concerned about safety, I'm not hesitant to quote:

    The plug-on Stablok circuit breakers have another designed-in defect which is that the busbar connection LOOSENS when current is flowing through it. This due to the magnetic pinch effect which is that if two or more parallel conduc-tors have current flowing in the same direction the conductors magnetically attract each other. The attraction force is in square proportion to the magnitude of current meaning that the attraction force quadruples each time the current doubles. In the case of typical knife fuse holders, Square D and classic Cutler-Hammer plug-on breakers, and Square D I-Line breakers the connection tightens when current is flowing through it.

    In the case of the Stabloks, which have two or more springy prongs going into a fixed hole in a busbar or busbar plate, the prongs attract each other and lose their grip. One time back in the Fall of 1983 I took the cover off somebody's FPE panel to see if it was feasible to install a main breaker in the two spare slots. About one to five minutes after I removed the cover, the refrigerator tried to start; this caused the refrigerator circuit breaker to jump right out of the panel, just like slapstick comedy! This designed-in defect can also result in spot welding, also known as a glowing contact, and can even cause the breaker to engage in kinky sex with the busbar.

    Zinsco plug-in circuit breakers also had a designed-in defect that in addition caused the plug-in connection to the busbar to loosen. Unlike Square D and classic Cutler-Hammer breaker which had the internal connection of the breaker to the jaw in the center of the “jaw,” the Zinsco breakers had the internal connection at one end of the jaw. The result was that about half the current would go up one side of the jaw and down the other side, thus creating a magnetic repulsion force that loosened the connection. If it loosened in just the right way, essentially all the current will go up one side of the jaw and down the other side.

    A slight further diversion is that Square D made some mobile home service pedestals that used a Zinsco-like design, but these became obsolete when split-bus panelboards were outlawed. I do not know if Square D used a different internal connection to the jaw that fixed the magnetic repulsion problem.


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