Challenger Box

I inspected a home with a chalenger electrical panal last week and all was fine other than 1 breaker was Westinghouse and 1 was GE. The label indicated Challenger breakers be used. I suggested they be replaced.

My client aked the seller to make a few repairs and this was one. I was back there today to inspect the repairs. The seller left a note indicating several local hardware stores advised that Challenger boxes will accept Westinghouse, GE and a couple of other breakers. I can not find anything to confirm this.

Anyone have anything that will help?


Many panels will “accept” off-brand breakers. In most cases, there are no functionality issues, merely a “listing” issue.

Make your point by explaining the manufacturers requirements, and leave it at that.

Jeff, what exactly is a “listing issue” and how are we to know when a “functional issue” exists?

The panel is UL Listed based on the manufacturers installation requirements. So installation of off-brand breakers may be contrary to the listing of the equipment.

Often the manufacturer will only label his device as being compatible with their own products.

BUT component manufactures can and do get a “Classified” label listings that state what products(in this case a panel) they are compatible with.

Classification Mark

Products carrying this mark have been evaluated for specific properties, a limited range of hazards, or suitability for use under limited or special conditions. Typically, products classified by UL fall into the general categories of building materials and industrial equipment.

So does it need to be evaluated by an electrician? That’s what I’ve been telling people. (I never say they should be replaced…but that it should be evaluated by a licensed and competent electrician.)

It’s really up to the AHJ.

If the breakers are “classified” for use in that panel and teh AHJ accepts it, fine.

IMHO - Only if the breaker does not seat properly, or if it creates problems with the fit of the dead-front.

In any event, I make note of it, but not necessarily as a “defect.”

Jeff is right. The manufacturers instructions, as per the NEC, will always outweigh any interpretation of any other code reference.

You are correct to call it out and then leave the negotiations of a remedy up to your client, the seller, and their agents.

Here is a very complete discussion of the issue.

in part it states:

The physical interchangeability is not an indication that they are electrically interchangeable. This must be verified by test. Unless the circuit breaker is marked on the panelboard as being acceptable or it is Classified as being acceptable, the circuit breakers have not been tested in the panelboards and should not be used…

The Classified circuit breaker must be marked to clarify the limitations of use on short circuit applications and series ratings. In addition each breaker is required to have a Compatibility List which, according to the UL Listing Card for Classified circuit breakers, “… tabulates the company name, catalog number, number of poles and electrical rating of the Classified circuit breaker, in addition to the company name and catalog number of the applicable UL Listed panelboards,

Code Compliance

What about the requirements of 110-3(b) of the National Electrical Code? This Code Section requires that products be used in accordance with instructions included in their listing and labeling and the use of Classified circuit breakers does present a dilemma to some inspectors.

The panelboard is marked to indicate the only circuit breakers to be used in the panelboard are the specific Listed circuit breakers with which the panelboards were evaluated and Listed by the panelboard manufacturer. The Classified circuit breakers, on the other hand, also have instructions included in their listing and labeling indicating the specific Listed panelboards for which they have been evaluated for use in. These are not in conflict with each other. Each manufacturer is listing and marking in accordance with the testing they have done. The Classified circuit breaker manufacturer has done testing in addition to the testing done by the panelboard manufacturer.

The final decision on acceptance of Classified circuit breakers, as with any issue, rests with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).

And how do we tell if the particular breaker is “classified” for that use?

Unless the home is brand new, the AHJ’s opinion is not relevant. (I think most inspectors on this board put way too much reliance in the expertise of the local gov’ment inspector. In my part of the country, they aren’t at the house long enough to turn the car engine off.)

I understand your frustration Joe. We all share it.

Read that link I posted. It lays it out very well.

It really is beyond the scope of a home inspection as we don;t generally determine the suitability of components but being forewarned with knowledge can save your back side.

Good info Mike. . . Thanks!

Westinghouse Electric owned Challenger for a number of years up until Eaton bought the electrical division from them & merged them into Eaton’s Cutler-Hammer line. There may be some info allowing the Westinghouse breaker in the panel but doubt a GE is “classified” by UL to be used. After Westinghouse took over they discontinued the Challenger breakers & rebranded their BR frame breakers as Challenger, as a final note,some time after Eaton’s purchase in 1995 they sold Challenger and the Westinghouse safety switch line to Thomas & Betts (T&B) which then in turned rebranded them as T&B, they were marketed for a few years and then disappeared from the market after that.

On a final note, T&B even got the rights to the beloved Zinsco brand too :mrgreen: from what I heard UBI (Unique Breakers Inc.) has the rights now, they if you did not know build cheap quailty Chinese knock-offs of FPE Stab-Loc,Zinsco/Sylvania, & I-T-E Pushmatic C/B’s that are sold in big box stores.