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I changed out a bad circuit breaker for the first time today. When I went to remove the (Siemens) front plate, I noticed that the metal surrounding the circuit breakers is a different piece from the main plate (that the door attaches to) and has two screws that are different from the rest of the screws holding the door in.

It's not this one, but the design is similar: Siemans pnael

I thought, "Hey, great, they've designed it so that I can just take out the center panel without having to remove the whole face and door!" Except, as shown above, the separate insert is behind the front plate. Removing those screws does nothing useful (it's still caught on the breakers protruding through the slots). I had to remove the entire plate and door to change the breaker.

What is the purpose of having the plate & door separate from the center panel? Why is one detachable from the other?

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By screwing the dead face in the same frame and door can be used for different types of boxes. This looks like a sub panel, (no main disconnect) the same frame can be used with the additional punch out in the top section for a main panel with the disconnect.

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    Ah, that makes sense! So, it's no real benefit to me, more of a manufacturing optimization for Siemens, yes? – Phrogz Nov 22 '16 at 17:28
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    It's both a manufacturing and a stocking optimization -- not only does Siemens only need to manufacture one box, but your supplier also need to only stock one box, which trickles down to you as a cost savings and better availability, instead of stocking 5 each of 5 different boxes, for less money they can stock 20 of the same box with 10 of each face plate and it's more likely that they'll have they one you need in stock when you need it. – Johnny Nov 22 '16 at 18:21

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