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Old 12-11-2008, 02:19 AM   #1
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Overload protection


Is there a safe way to test overload protection to see if your system/breakers work?

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Old 12-11-2008, 07:47 AM   #2
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Overload protection


Megger makes a unit that will test circuit breakers, including GFCI.
On their website, it looks to be a very expensive device, used by contractors.
Amprobe makes an ArcFault breaker tester, but I didn't see any other breaker testers on their site.

To properly test a circuit breaker requires a specific amount of current for a specified amount of time.
There may be other factors involved as well.

IMO, if you suspect a bad breaker, replace it. If you just want to have all your breakers checked, call an electrician.

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Old 12-11-2008, 10:55 AM   #3
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Overload protection


Quote:
Originally Posted by farmerde View Post
Is there a safe way to test overload protection to see if your system/breakers work?
You need the trip curve for your breaker.

One of these can probably put out 180A.
http://www.ted-kyte.com/3D/Pictures/Soldering%20Gun.jpg
to test the IT part of the curve.

For the magnetic tripping portion, let's say you want 400A for 16 mS.
According to Onderdonk,
http://www.ultracad.com/articles/fusing.pdf
#24 AWG will give slightly more than this, so the breaker should trip before the wire (rather violently) melts.
You put the breaker in series with the wire across either 240vac or a 12v car battery.

Wear face protection.

Are you sure you want to do this?
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Old 12-11-2008, 11:42 AM   #4
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Overload protection


Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoyizit View Post
You need the trip curve for your breaker.

One of these can probably put out 180A.
http://www.ted-kyte.com/3D/Pictures/Soldering%20Gun.jpg
to test the IT part of the curve.

For the magnetic tripping portion, let's say you want 400A for 16 mS.
According to Onderdonk,
http://www.ultracad.com/articles/fusing.pdf
#24 AWG will give slightly more than this, so the breaker should trip before the wire (rather violently) melts.
You put the breaker in series with the wire across either 240vac or a 12v car battery.

Wear face protection.

Are you sure you want to do this?
You might be OK with this, but I would not recommend it to a DIY'er.
The soldering gun doesn't provide a measured amount of current. What use is it?
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Old 12-11-2008, 11:42 AM   #5
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Overload protection


Why do you want to test your breakers?
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Old 12-11-2008, 01:25 PM   #6
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Overload protection


As someone who has "tested" a "dead" UPS lead acid battery with a 24 gauge wire before, I'd say that's definitely a dangerous operation. I had a wire mark burned into my finger for days.

If you are nervous because you have a stab-lok or some other death-trap sort of panel... just replace it. Testing the breakers once doesn't mean they'll trip right the next time they get "tested".
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Old 12-11-2008, 01:44 PM   #7
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Overload protection


Quote:
Originally Posted by KE2KB View Post
The soldering gun doesn't provide a measured amount of current. What use is it?
Forgot; you also need a clamp-on ammeter.
Whatever high current the iron provides, you compare the time to trip with the trip curve.
But with these low voltages you need very low contact impedance, so connections must be bolted or clamped; no clip leads.


The kinder and gentler way is to load it down to 2x or 3x rated current, but this gets to be several hair dryers and toaster ovens, all switched on at the same time.

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Last edited by Yoyizit; 12-11-2008 at 01:47 PM.
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