How many breakers are there?

I had an issue recently trying to find a replacement breaker for an old square D panel, but it got me to thinking about how many breakers are there?!

I would love to have an idea or list of commonly used or seen breakers in a residential panel. For example, how many type of square D breakers are there for residential use that are compatible… 2?, 3?, 4?, 40?. How many generations or Murry breakers are there and what do they look like?

While I don’t expect anyone to know the answers to those questions off hand, does anyone know of a good online store or catalog that could shed light on my question?

My goal is to be able to look at a breaker and be familiar with the manufacturer, its availability, and not to have to do much research when I find an uncommon or rarely used breaker.


You have placed a “monumental” task on your hands to remember all of that information. In fact, I deal with this type stuff on a daily basis and I don’t even have the desire to know all of them at a moments notice…lol

Fact is, it is much easier to simply visit each manufacturers website and do a search or lookup and print off any literature they may have. Another thing is find a contact at each company (e.g. Eaton, Schneider, GE, Siemens) and request a list of all produced OCPD’s and you may be shocked at what they provide.

At the least they will more than likely give you a current list or direct you to where it can be found. Another good resource is the download list of “Classified” circuit breakers from Eaton which also lists many of the models and makes on the market. Since the “Classifieds” are fairly new (well new enough) that any of the lists will have fairly extensive models listed so a quick search on the internet may bring you all the information you need.

Ironically enough If I was teaching an HI about OCPD and learning the various brands I would probably say don’t bother. Just learn things like 1) knowing then mix-matches occur 2) be generic in your statements about them unless you know 100% otherwise.

Now in terms of residential applications the volume is fairly easy since the typical set is (1) Single Poles and (2) Double Poles, which are made by all the major players…you would not see a (3) Three Pole or 4 Four Pole being used in Residential…unless they are simply tandoms which are not really using multiple contact points…they still use the single or double pole contact points on the buss…but they may just have multiple connection options to each of the contact points (buss).

But there is alot to learn about each manufacturer and breakers change model numbers often, other than the base models ID’s which have become standard…like the “BR” style which is industry universal in its connection method…but usually that is the standard line and then you have the premium lines like Square D (Schneider) “QO” (Pro line) and Cutler-Hammer (Eatons) “CH” line…yet both make the “BR” basic line as well.

So while not helpful probably…It’s a start to your quest.

Great reply, and like many of your posts it got me thinking. As you said, we frequently see mixed brands of breakers, especially on older panels. Now, since many panels have the statement that only their breakers can be used, when a company goes out of business, what breakers can be used without the panel loosing UL rating? I know that some of the bigger companies have bought out other brands, but keeping track of it, or sometimes even doing the research to find it is near impossible. I would say the most frequent example of this is with Bryant and Wadsworth panels.


Thank you Paul for your response.

For the record, I plan on not remembering much except at best a general understanding and mastery of the basics. That being said I am very tech savvy and am currently building reference guides and tools for myself, currently in the form of apps (click on app for “stairs” and I have all the relevant codes and safety concerns, or “Panels”, “Decks” “Loads and joist spans” etc… The act of collecting and sorting info allows me to absorb alot more information than just browsing and studying.

I think based on your answer Ill be content to just get a current sample of commonly used breakers from various manufacturers site for residential applications. I’ll start there and see if questions form from the effort.


Excellent Frank…as I always said the Brightest and the Best are here on NACHI so I know you will get it down to a science.

@ Michael - Yes, it can be a challenge but remember that when and if a company goes out of business they do not lose their listing or the listing on the product that has already been evaluated. The concept of the “Classified” circuit breakers are to meet that niche market of replacements…which permit you to replace without voiding any warranty that was provided by the manufacturer.

Now in most cases…the warranty is already long gone so in the case of “Classifieds” you may actually get a better warranty on the replacement than you would on the original component anyway so thats just a bonus. However, not many people care about a warranty on a simple single pole breaker…as most warranties only cover the component and not the structure that it is connected too…which is usually covered by another insurance (homeowners or commercial umbrella).

For example…I would not care about voiding a warranty on a 15 year old GE panel when in fact the warranty probably ran out years ago…in that case a replacement “BR” Classified CB that has been evaluated for the use in that enclosure by a NRTL may have a 1 year or 3 year warranty…now you are better off then you were in the beginning…as an electrical contractor for over 20 years I never once got a call where someone wanted to claim a warranty replacement on a circuit breaker…they just wanted it replaced and gladly paid for it without the hassle of dealing with any warranty.

So remember…when a larger company buys out another company…none of the listings are lost…as the new company absorbs the product line and simply brings their tooling and component design into their breathe of product offerings.

Thanks Paul, good information to have. Now to just keep track of who bought out whom…

lol…well it is easier today than it was a few years ago…now when a larger manufacturer buys out another manufacturer they go into BRAG mode and it’s all over the internet…if you just search for it…it’s there…boastful as one could imagine.