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Old 08-07-2010, 06:06 AM   #1
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mini breakers a bad choice?


Are mini breakers to be avoided in general? My home inspector frowned upon them, but after doing some research, I didn't see anything obviously bad with them. A mini breaker and regular sized breaker both with the same current rating are equivalent, no?

I was thinking of putting an OTR microwave on a dedicated 15A circuit, which would use a mini breaker. That's why I'm asking.

Thanks

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Old 08-07-2010, 06:52 AM   #2
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mini breakers a bad choice?


A home inspector is the absolute last person you should take electrical advice from. I know that it's supposed to be part of his job, but he is completely unqualified.

When you say mini breakers, are you talking about tandem breakers that have (2) breakers built into (1)? If so, these are perfectly fine. You'll be fine using one for your microwave. However, if you think you are going to be adding more stuff, you might want to think about adding a sub-panel.

There are two things that I don't like about tandems:

A) When using a lot of them the panel gets a bit too filled with wiring. You may have to add a second neutral bar as well as another ground bar as well.
B) On a new installation I don't like seeing them, I would rather the electrician bought a panel large enough to handle the whole area it's servicing and still had some extra spaces. Tandems are expensive, usually twice as much as their normal breaker counterpart. So it makes no sense to install them on a new installation.

In your situation, tandems would work just fine.

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Old 08-07-2010, 08:29 AM   #3
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mini breakers a bad choice?


Tandem breakers are not listed for use in every panel. You need to check the panel label to see if they can be used.
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:04 AM   #4
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mini breakers a bad choice?


IF the panel is listed to use tandem or mini breakers then the there is absolutely no problem using them. Home inspector need to justify their jobs. They need to find something to report or you will think you wasted money on their report.
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:59 AM   #5
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mini breakers a bad choice?


thanks for the responses

yes i was talking about tandem breakers. The panel label doesn't say anything about not using them, just says to use westinghouse breaker types BR,BRD, etc...
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:54 PM   #6
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mini breakers a bad choice?


Like Jim said, it should indicate on the panel label that they can be used.

If it is a later panel, look for different "stabs" that the breaker snaps onto. They are notched for panel positions that accept later tandem breakers, and match up with the underside of the breaker. Also, it is common for the panel circuit schedule sticker to have extra lines in the panel positions where a tandem can be used.

Generally, I've seen tandems on the bottom.

Cutler-Hammer type BD breakers are listed as "UL Type BRD", and can be a quad or a duplex breaker so it's possible yours can handle it.

The exact model number or a photo of the panel model sticker would help for sure. For example, if a Square D model number has something like "1620" in there somewhere, it usually has 16 breaker slots and can have 4 of those as tandems which makes 20 total possible circuits.
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Old 08-07-2010, 11:28 PM   #7
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mini breakers a bad choice?


Quote:
Originally Posted by debiasio View Post
thanks for the responses

yes i was talking about tandem breakers. The panel label doesn't say anything about not using them, just says to use westinghouse breaker types BR,BRD, etc...
It's not if they are disallowed but rather if they are allowed.


what is you panel manuf and model?

joed and proby. You need to be a bit reserved when speaking of inspectors. In my area, the inspector where I live used to be an electrical contractor and he grew up with his dad being a contractor. In another jurisdiction I work in, the inspector there is extremely knowledgeable although be never was an electrician. I have run across the dumber than a box of rocks inspectors and those that like to try to enforce their personal choices but generally, the guys around me are pretty good.
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:05 AM   #8
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mini breakers a bad choice?


Tandems count two points each when staying within the total number of breakers the cabinet allows.

One (single wide) tandem may not be used in place of a double wide for both hot wires of a multiwire branch circuit since it doesn't draw power from both sides of the line, needed so the neutral current balances out.
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:51 AM   #9
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mini breakers a bad choice?


Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
joed and proby. You need to be a bit reserved when speaking of inspectors. In my area, the inspector where I live used to be an electrical contractor and he grew up with his dad being a contractor. In another jurisdiction I work in, the inspector there is extremely knowledgeable although be never was an electrician. I have run across the dumber than a box of rocks inspectors and those that like to try to enforce their personal choices but generally, the guys around me are pretty good.
We were not speaking about city/county electrical inspectors. Altho they sometimes like to judge using their own opinion and could be big pain in the asses, they are qualified and professionals. To be an electrical inspector requires higher standards than to be an electrical contractor, so I have respect for them.

joed and I were speaking about Home Inspectors which is what the OP was speaking about. These inspectors have proven themselves time and time again to not know a thing about electric. They have absolutely no electrical training or experience, to become a Home Inspector in most states requires a lame course, that's it. They should not be inspecting electric, they are completely unqualified. This thread is just one more example of that.

I must admit, I do get many calls because people are trying to fix things that Home Inspectors said were wrong. For an example, the last one was a splice in the main panel- yes, that is apparently illegal I explained to the homeowner that it was perfectly fine to do that, but they paid me to fix it because the Home Inspector told the buyers that it was incorrect and they wanted it fixed

You might find a Home Inspector that actually has electrical experience, but that's 1 in a billion.
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Old 08-08-2010, 02:45 PM   #10
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mini breakers a bad choice?


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joed and I were speaking about Home Inspectors which is what the OP was speaking about. .
my mistake. Yes, I agree whole heartedly with you on this.
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:27 PM   #11
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mini breakers a bad choice?


The panel is a Westinghouse B10 2020CT. I looked closer and it says to only use breaker models BR215-BR270. The tandem breakers are model BR1515.

I assumed the electrician who serviced this house before I bought it installed the tandem breakers, so it was OK to have them...
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:31 PM   #12
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I do not install Westinghouse but based on the model number and where it says 2020, I would bet it is not listed for use with tandems and has a 20 circuit limit. Perhaps someone familiar with Westinghouse could confirm this.
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:51 PM   #13
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mini breakers a bad choice?


I agree with Jim but have the same reservations. I am quite confident the 2020 refers to the fact you have 20 standard breaker slots and you can only have a max of 20 circuits.

I would think it should also list BR120-BR170 as well for breakers. The 200 series are 2 pole and the 100 series are single pole breakers.

but if it doesn't list tandems, no tandems for you.
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debiasio View Post
I assumed the electrician who serviced this house before I bought it installed the tandem breakers, so it was OK to have them...
No. It's never been OK to use them in a panel that is not listed to accept them. They used them just because they fit and nobody called them on it at the time.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:16 AM   #15
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mini breakers a bad choice?


even if I only have a total of 18 circuits installed, including the tandem breakers?

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