FYI- Electrical Clarity Please

Well I am not sure what actually went on today but I have received a few calls from some home inspectors in the last few hour with a request for some clarity to the following questions, so here it goes…

  1. The NEC (NFPA70) does not REFERENCE other standards. The NFPA prohibits that act directly within code language. The Informational Notes add direction but are not enforceable and may reference another standard only within these informational notes and not the standard itself.

  2. Yes, you can use different breakers from different manufacturers in a variety of panels…as long as each panel clearly lists the permitted circuit breakers for use in that specific panel and again are listed for the use. As many of you know the only exception to that are Classified Circuit Breakers that have been evaluated as such for replacement purposes and evaluated as such. You simply can’t just put any Circuit Breaker that will “FIT” in any panelboard you wish…No they are NOT all the same…each manufacturer (and lets not forget I worked for NEMA) has to do independent testing and costly full evaluation with their CB’s in a specific enclosure with their companies panelboard.

For Example - If GE has not tested (event if you think it will work fine) their CB’s on an Eaton panelboard then the CB has not been evaluated for the use on an Eaton Panelboard…period…there is no gray area here!

You can spin it any why you wish…if it goes to court and you say it is OK…and it is not a classified CB…you are going to be liable in the unlikely event there is an issue…just want to clear the air on that.

  1. Another question for some reason today via phone…No, you can’t TAP ahead of the service disconnection means and feed an outside HVAC unit, a home inspector just called me and said they learned today they could…This is not TRUE (unless you are meet 230.82 or are the Utility)…you are only permitted to tap service conductors ahead of the service disconnection means in accordance with the provisions of 230.82, and HVAC is not one of them listed.

  2. If you are going to install a MultiWire branch circuit you can indeed use two single pole circuit breakers, where applicable…BUT they must be tied together with an “identified” handle tie…thats an important part of the allowance.

Hope I answered all the questions that the gentlemen that called me were looking to get clarity on and I posted them here per your request.

Again…remember I am always here to help you guys…you can easily find my number and if you EVER have a question, hear something you might think is incorrect or misleading or sounds fishy…you guys know I am just a call or email away…I told Nick years ago I would NEVER turn down a call from a INACHI Member seeking guidance on electrical issues.

Now I know we have great folks here…and we indeed have some experts and you can love me or hate me as I will even answer electrical questions from those who for some reason dislike me, but I just want you to know, while I don’t do a lot with INACHI anymore…I am still just a call away if you need me as the choice it always yours.

With that said…I hope all that attended the 2015 Inspector Conference had a great time and wish I could have stuck around for the final day (Wed) but I had to get to another meetings back in Texas.

Thanks, Paul. Although, I haven’t called you in years, you are a great asset and kindly share your expertise.

I attended the advanced electrical seminar as well this afternoon with George. What is important to remember I believe is that advanced electrical evaluations are not within the scope or SOP of traditional home inspections. The questions raised must be taken in context. There are a great many opinions that may not always reflect the NEC standard code but remain valid in practice. Unless you are prepared and can verify the particular application either in a code reference or by personal expertise, the judgement call should made by a licensed individual and differed for further evaluation by someone other than a home inspector. In reality, all manufactures would recommend their proprietary products (breakers) within their own panels. The reality however, is that all breakers are UL listed and should be interchanged providing they in fact fit. Mr. Wells is beyond qualified in his field.
Opinions on the other hand are like elbows.
Everyone has at least two (2) and often they are not exactly the same.

Agree. We are very lucky to have you as well as several others that help.

Bob- My comments are not in regards to George as I was not in attendance and I respect George very much. The responses were based on some calls I received and a request to post answers to the aforementioned questions.

However, one fact, the Circuit Breaker manufacturers do indeed produce CB’s to a published standard. BUT, the gaping and so on that has to do with the connection to bus systems is not always standard. The fact that a manufacturer tests and eventually obtained an evaluation on a specific combination of components is paramount to reliability…Period.

A great example would be AFCI Circuit Breakers. UL 1699 has a specific standard but not all manufacturers adhere totally to the standard, some go above and beyond to incorporate other features (like GFI) into their device that is not covered in the typical UL 1699 standard.

In terms of warranty which in many cases is still a concern for a home owner as you know, if the home is fairly new then chances are the manufacturer of that electrical CB offers a warranty on it’s service from production. Using anything other than what the manufacturer specifies on the “Original” installation would void any such warranty. Granted that in older systems the warranty is more than likely gone…However, I would not want to be the one to look a judge in the eye and say " All manufacturers make the same thing and it should be fine on any panelboard"…this was the intent of the “classified” experiment and why they require listings. This ensures that the said “C-CB” has been evaluated, tested and listed for use on other panelboards in a replacement condition.

At the end of the day the HI’s can do what they wish…I am simply offering an answer to the question as again I was not in attendance and I have no idea what actually was discussed nor is it any of my business. I am just trying to be helpful is all.

The real issue with double tapping breakers is not the breaker or the “hot terminal” but rather the neutral or return wire. Quite often “neutrals” are bundled within j boxes and when they are, the potential for a direct 240v is greater and often goes unrecognized as they are usually buried. The temperature of a 240v can be in excess of 800 degrees and the potential for fire then is also greater.

The confusion is that many only recognize the hot as being the positive or live current. The negative leg also carries current as it is the “return” for the electrical current to complete the loop or circuit.


You are wrong on several counts.

You better think that through there Larson…
If you can explain it any better I’m all ears.

If you didn’t personally wire the double tap breaker installation and find that because the breaker is correct the circuit is then correct you might be overlooking something.

I attended the advanced electrical seminar at the conferance this week… You sat on your *** and critiqued the message boards…

no positive or negative in AC circuits.

Your comment has nothing to do with whether a CB terminal is rated or more than one wire. NOTHING

Are you saying at this seminar you “learned” that All breakers from Every manufacturer are interchangeable within different brand panels as long as they “fit”?

You are taking it out of context… Some breaker designs are interchangeable within similar panel designs. Siemens and Square D are what come to mind though I’m not certain as to the brand in specific. The point is that quite often something that doesn’t appear to be right is not always an issue when it comes to function. Lots of variables in the field require not always calling something out just because you are unfamiliar with a particular application.

Are listed or “identified” handle ties readily available for all breaker types?

I think that’s a question…?
Listed breakers are of course the exception.

Some breakers can be made to fit, with differing degrees of difficulty, in other brands of panels. That does not make it correct or code and listing compliant. I have a picture of a Cutler-Hammer tan breaker in a Square D panel that uses a different bus design. Someone made it fit and it powers the circuit connected to it. That does not make it anywhere close to correct.