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Author Topic:   Square-D QO breakers - 2368 visits (1 today, 11 this week)
Richard Moore
Member

Posts: 434
From:Seattle, WA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 12, 2003 02:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Moore   Click Here to Email Richard Moore     Edit/Delete Message
A neighbor asked me to take a look at a copy of an inspection report a buyer had used to get out of the sale of a house he was FSBOing in another part of the country. Basically he just wanted me to explain a couple of items in the narrative (with photos) report that were somewhat ambiguous in wording. One reported “defect” concerned double-tapping of a couple of single-pole breakers. The paragraph first reported the double tapping and then went on to say “I don’t consider this to be a problem” without any further explanation (If it’s not a problem why report it?) The photo showed an area of service panel and clearly pointed out the double taps but the actual lug arrangement was not visible. This was obviously a Square-D QO load center BUT the two breakers in question had neither the Square-D label nor the trip-indicator window leading me to believe that they are generic replacements. My experience is that only OEM QO breakers have the two conductor capability while off-brands have the usual single round-hole lug.

I’m going to recommend that he have it checked out anyway as it’s not possible to tell from the photo but I wanted to ask the forum if there are in fact other-brand single-pole breakers with the two-conductor lugs and/or could these no-label/no indicator breakers be the real thing.

Richard Moore
REST ASSURED INSPECTION SERVICES
Seattle, WA
www.rainspect.com

Jack Feldmann
Member

Posts: 815
From:Knoxville, TN
Registered: Mar 2001

posted November 12, 2003 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jack Feldmann   Click Here to Email Jack Feldmann     Edit/Delete Message
I had an interesting conversation with the local electrical inspector yesterday. He was at the house I was inspecting doing an inspection on a main panel replacement.
The panel had the Square D breakers with the double lugs and many had two conductors attached. He said "This is wrong", some square D breakers are Ok for this, but this one is not approved for two wires."
I tried to question him, but he brished me off in the usual manner that code officials do.

Jerry Peck
Member

Posts: 759
From:Pembroke Pines, FL
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 12, 2003 05:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jerry Peck   Click Here to Email Jerry Peck     Edit/Delete Message
The only Squared D breakers approved for two conductors are the ones with the flat plated with the two wire holding channels (for lack of a better term).

If I recall correctly, each breaker is not marked, just the box they come in. I also recall that both conductors must be the same size and material (so the plate lays flat and the conductor expansion rate is the same).

------------------
Jerry Peck
South Florida

neal lewis
Member

Posts: 329
From:Ridgewood, N.J.
Registered: Jun 2001

posted November 12, 2003 06:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for neal lewis   Click Here to Email neal lewis     Edit/Delete Message
Richard,

I have one generic/no name Square D QO replacement breaker in my panel box. I only installed it in a pinch because the supply house didn't carry Square D. The thing is junky and doesn't fit tight like the real thing. Anyway, it does have the type of terminal that is meant for one wire. It doesn't have the plate to accomodate two wires.

Jack,

I also spoke with a building inspector today to find out about the phasing out of the BOCA codes, which will be replaced by the IRC( special NJ edition). He asked me if I was an architect and I told him I was a H.I. I could hear the sigh on the other end of the phone, and he wanted to know why I needed to be familiar with codes. Turns out he has a problem with a home inspectors recommending udgrades if they were grandfathered in. I tried to educate him on the purpose of a home inspection and that we have to strike a balance between not citing code and trying to provide a quality inspection for the client, which would include items such as safety upgrades. I hope some of it got through.

Richard Moore
Member

Posts: 434
From:Seattle, WA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 12, 2003 06:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Moore   Click Here to Email Richard Moore     Edit/Delete Message
I have a Square-D in my hand as I type (which is difficult). There is a little diagram on the side of the molded case photo 1 (70516 Bytes) depicting one and two wire connections. I guess that takes care of the “must be identified” thing for more than one conductor. Unfortunately as it’s on the side it’s not possible to read it without removing the breaker from the bus. It also says 14AWG etc although this is a 20amp breaker.

There may be instructions elsewhere about the two conductors being the same size…however as you can see in photo 2 (61405 Bytes) the bottom of the screw holding the plate down is rounded. To my eye this would indicate that the plate does not have to be flat. Indeed with only one wire it wouldn’t be anyway. How differing thermal expansion rates would affect this set-up I’ll leave to those more knowledgable.

I tried to find more info on Square-D’s website but the one link that looked like it might contain relevant info wasn’t working. I suspect that Jack’s inspector may have been full of it.

Richard Moore
REST ASSURED INSPECTION SERVICES
Seattle, WA
www.rainspect.com

[This message has been edited by Richard Moore (edited November 12, 2003).]

Susan Cieslewicz
Member

Posts: 425
From:Lake Villa, Il
Registered: Sep 2002

posted November 12, 2003 07:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Susan Cieslewicz   Click Here to Email Susan Cieslewicz     Edit/Delete Message
Oh those crabby local inspectors!!!!

Jack,

That guy probably didn't know how to answer you!!

Some of these folks sincerely don't know what they're looking at!! They pass a test and get their "certification" but have no common sense, experience or people skills!!

Richard,

Electrical is not my strong point but isn't 14 AWG unsafe with a 20 amp breaker? (Or is the one you're refering to ok for that?).

SC

Richard Moore
Member

Posts: 434
From:Seattle, WA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 12, 2003 07:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Moore   Click Here to Email Richard Moore     Edit/Delete Message
Sue...

I imagine they use the same mold for all their single pole breaker casings...15,20 and 30 amp. Definitely NOT OK to use 14AWG with a 20. Just shows you can't always believe what you read.

Richard

neal lewis
Member

Posts: 329
From:Ridgewood, N.J.
Registered: Jun 2001

posted November 12, 2003 07:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for neal lewis   Click Here to Email neal lewis     Edit/Delete Message
Richard,

14 gauge on a 20 amp breaker.
It depends what the breaker is protecting. For instance, an A/C condenser unit may specify a minimum 15 amp circuit with a maximum 20 amp overcurrent protection(of course, we're usually looking at 240V/2pole for A/C).
As long as the wire size and breaker fall within the parameters on the condenser data plate, it is acceptable.

Richard Moore
Member

Posts: 434
From:Seattle, WA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 12, 2003 09:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Moore   Click Here to Email Richard Moore     Edit/Delete Message
Neal...

Exception noted. We mostly use windows around here for A/C (unless your last name is Gates oddly enough) so I keep forgetting about compressor surge. Amend my last to read not OK for regular branch circuits.

Richard

PS. Any chance of getting back to my original question or is thread drift irreversible?

[This message has been edited by Richard Moore (edited November 12, 2003).]

Michael P. O'Handley
Member

Posts: 331
From:Kenmore, WA 98028
Registered: Mar 2001

posted November 13, 2003 02:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Michael P. O'Handley   Click Here to Email Michael P. O'Handley     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Richard,

I don't think there are any other breakers besides the specific Square D brand breakers made to accommodate more than one conductor. Here's what Douglas Hansen has to say about it in Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings (2000 Edition):

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike O'Handley
Your Inspector(tm)
Kenmore by the Lake, WA
---------------------------------------

Double Tapping

(snip)
"Double tapping" (also called "double lugging") is one of th emmost common electrical defects encountered by home inspectors. Only one wire is allowed per terminal unless the terminal is specifically identified for more than one [110-14a]. Such terminals will be marked with the number and size of wires that are acceptable to them.
(snip)
One type of circuit breaker, manufactured by Square D, is designed for two conductors.
(snip)
The conductors are clamped by pressure-plates that sandwich the sire. While this type of breaker does have a labeling that allows 2 wires, other instructions on the label must also be followed [110-3b]. These include the instruction for tightening the lug to 36 inch pounds. In realistic terms, that would be a very firm torque on the terminal, and in practice most electricians (and all do-it-yourselfers) fail to adequately tighten these lugs. Very few electricians own (or have even seen) a torquing screwdriver, and 36 inch pounds is usually the maximum setting on such a tool.
(snip)

Jack Feldmann
Member

Posts: 815
From:Knoxville, TN
Registered: Mar 2001

posted November 13, 2003 04:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jack Feldmann   Click Here to Email Jack Feldmann     Edit/Delete Message
Richard,
Thanks for the info and great photo.
Michael,
As always, great info.

I'm guess because this guy had the "State poohbaah" badge he felt he knew everything. But he was the one that was going to sign off (or not) on this panel, so it did take me out of the loop. I was confused because I thought that the Square D breakers WERE allowed to have two wires.
I have another SQ D question I will post in another topic.
Jack

Jerry Peck
Member

Posts: 759
From:Pembroke Pines, FL
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 13, 2003 06:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jerry Peck   Click Here to Email Jerry Peck     Edit/Delete Message
Neal,

The photo was not showing that you could use a 14 AWG on a 20 amp breaker, it was showing what the terminal is approved for.

I.e., one conductor - a 14 to a 8, but if there are two conductors, it's a 14 to a 10.

Richard, returning from thread drift to what is (I think) your original question (if there was a question there, more of a statement),

quote
The paragraph first reported the double tapping and then went on to say “I don’t consider this to be a problem”
unquote

Sounds to me like he / she was reporting it because they knew that every good HI should, but, to smooth it over with the real estate agents, added “I don’t consider this to be a problem”, meaning 'no repair necessary.

Now, if there is a problem, or another inspector calls it out for correction, that HI can say "I put it in the report." (they did), when asked "why did you say it was not a problem?", they can respond "Because I have never seen it cause a problem, it may not be 'right', but that does not mean it's a 'problem' "

End result, the HI is covered and the agent likes them.

------------------
Jerry Peck
South Florida

Richard Moore
Member

Posts: 434
From:Seattle, WA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 13, 2003 02:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Moore   Click Here to Email Richard Moore     Edit/Delete Message
Jerry…

My original question was about the capabilities of off-brand breakers. The “why report it at all” was somewhat rhetorical but now that you have brought it up…

I borrowed the report from my neighbor. No copyright and I’ve never seen the name on this forum so I’m going to post the exact language. (My bold)

Quote: “Circuit and wire sizing are correct so far as visible. Multiple wires are connected to a single lug on a circuit breaker where only one wire should be connected (circuits 8 and 14). I don’t believe that this double tap on the breaker is an actual hazard but if double tapping is needed to power the fixtures within the home upgrading of the system should be considered.” End quote

To me this says “Look, here’s something that’s not allowed but I feel that I know more than the gurus who wrote the NEC so don’t bother fixing it”. Yes, the agent might be happy but the client has not been well served and, rather than covering himself, I think he just mooned a lawyer.

It’s all pretty moot by now as the deal fell through and the breakers have now been replaced with OEM equipment by an electrician so the next inspector won’t have to deal with this.

Richard Moore
REST ASSURED INSPECTION SERVICES
Seattle, WA
www.rainspect.com

Mike Parks
Member

Posts: 147
From:Marysville Ohio
Registered: Aug 2003

posted November 25, 2003 03:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Parks   Click Here to Email Mike Parks     Edit/Delete Message
Square D can accept two wires (normally 14awg or 12awg) per breaker.

Square D also accepts two "grounded" conductors per lug. This is a code violation.

If you have to ask what this is you should not be inspecting the interior of electrical panels.

You are stepping out of the "home inspector" hat and putting on the "electrical safety inspector" hat.

When you are commenting on electrical you are walking a "very" slipperly slope.

Please be careful.

Jerry Peck
Member

Posts: 759
From:Pembroke Pines, FL
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 26, 2003 04:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jerry Peck   Click Here to Email Jerry Peck     Edit/Delete Message
Mike "Square D also accepts two "grounded" conductors per lug."

Mike,

I've never seen where Square D states that.

Two 'grounds', i.e., equipment grounds, yes, but not "grounded conductors", i.e., neutrals.

Do you have a photo of a panel which states two "grounded" conductors are okay? Would help with my education.

------------------
Jerry Peck
South Florida

Mike Parks
Member

Posts: 147
From:Marysville Ohio
Registered: Aug 2003

posted November 26, 2003 05:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Parks   Click Here to Email Mike Parks     Edit/Delete Message
I was wrong when I said Square D "accepts".

Read the following:

Neutral Assemblies
• All lugs suitable for copper or aluminum wire (see “Technical Information” on
pages 22–29)
• Branch neutral terminals suitable for one #14–#4 AWG copper or one
#12–#4 AWG aluminum wire
• Three #14–1/0 AWG copper or #14–#6 AWG aluminum terminals provided
on 12–42 circuits, 100–225 A load centers
• Suitable lugs provided on the neutrals for termination of the
grounding conductor
• All unused neutral terminals may be used to terminate bare or green
equipment grounding conductors when the load center is used as
service equipment:
— one or two #14–#12 AWG copper
— one or two #12–#10 AWG aluminum
http://www.squared.com/us/products/loadcent.nsf/07a0210021262d45862564b5006e4f84/aee10de4b391f056852569ff00824288/$FILE/C_1100CT9901.pdf

PP 9

This for a QOC40UF panel.

Jerry I know I am splitting hairs. It is rated for two wires, however it is not suitable for two grounded conductors. Square D is using the NEC to limit the number.

• All unused neutral terminals may be used to terminate bare or green
equipment grounding conductors when the load center is used as
service equipment

The lines below this do not say that the two wires have to be EGC’s.


I know this is a stretch. I would argue that the lugs can safe "hold" two grounded conductors but this is not permitted by the NEC

Richard Moore
Member

Posts: 434
From:Seattle, WA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 26, 2003 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Moore   Click Here to Email Richard Moore     Edit/Delete Message
Mike...

I'm having a hard time figuring where you are going with this one.

"• All unused neutral terminals may be used to terminate bare or green
equipment grounding conductors when the load center is used as
service equipment:
— one or two #14–#12 AWG copper
— one or two #12–#10 AWG aluminum"

It seems to clearly state "grounding" and not "grounded" (or neutrals). A square-D neutral bar is pretty much the same as the rest. Only some of their breakers have the distinctly different and identified lug arrangement for two conductors.

The only reason it's arguably "safe" to have two grounding conductors in a round hole lug is that any current they carry should only be momentary before the breaker trips and therefore arcing from a poor connection wouldn't have time to build up much heat. Not so for a neutral under load. At least that's how it was explained to me by Doug Hansen and I'm not going to argue with him.

Richard

[This message has been edited by Richard Moore (edited November 26, 2003).]

Jerry Peck
Member

Posts: 759
From:Pembroke Pines, FL
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 26, 2003 05:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jerry Peck   Click Here to Email Jerry Peck     Edit/Delete Message
Mike,

You are not splitting hairs, you just missed what you posted.

"• Branch neutral terminals suitable for one #14–#4 AWG copper or one #12–#4 AWG aluminum wire"

States right there "one" when used for neutrals.


------------------
Jerry Peck
South Florida

Mike Parks
Member

Posts: 147
From:Marysville Ohio
Registered: Aug 2003

posted November 27, 2003 05:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Parks   Click Here to Email Mike Parks     Edit/Delete Message
You both understand perfectly.

I baited you. This is an example of how some electricians try to get by with a egc and a neutral under one lug.

Mike P.

Jerry Peck
Member

Posts: 759
From:Pembroke Pines, FL
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 27, 2003 08:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jerry Peck   Click Here to Email Jerry Peck     Edit/Delete Message
Mike,

Hopefully, it did serve to clarify this for everyone else.

------------------
Jerry Peck
South Florida

Russel Kirk
Member

Posts: 828
From:San Diego, California
Registered: May 2002

posted November 27, 2003 10:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russel Kirk     Edit/Delete Message
If not for everyone, for me. Thanks.

Mike Parks
Member

Posts: 147
From:Marysville Ohio
Registered: Aug 2003

posted November 28, 2003 03:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Parks   Click Here to Email Mike Parks     Edit/Delete Message
Jerry

Yes I wanted to see if it was unconditionally accepted or challenged.

I think every post should be doubled checked by the reader.

Mike P.

Richard Moore
Member

Posts: 434
From:Seattle, WA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted November 28, 2003 11:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Moore   Click Here to Email Richard Moore     Edit/Delete Message
Mike...

While I can appreciate what you were trying to do I'd sure hate to see the tactic of deliberately posting misinformation or misinterpretation become a common habit.

I, for one, really thought you were losing it. I'm very glad to see that isn't the case.

Richard

Mike Parks
Member

Posts: 147
From:Marysville Ohio
Registered: Aug 2003

posted November 28, 2003 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Parks   Click Here to Email Mike Parks     Edit/Delete Message
Richard

Your are correct.

"deliberately posting misinformation or misinterpretation"

It was meant as a misconception rather than misinformation.

I will not do this again.

Mike P.

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