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I have three types of non-GE breakers on my GE panel. They are from the previous owner and possibly many many years old. I think they are Murray and Square D. Are these breakers that need to be replaced or are they UL-Classified to work on other panels?

The panel is a GE TLM1612C, I think.

Thanks!

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  • 2
    Hello, I'd wager 98% of panels I've been in have a sticker (usually found on the door) that has a list of suitable breakers for the panel. Please check and report back with what it says. Thanks. – Mikael Nov 18 at 17:37
  • @Mikael -- that label was already posted in another question – ThreePhaseEel Nov 20 at 1:34
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TLDR: They're all wrong. Swap with a GE or classified breaker (e.g. Eaton CL not BR).

Allowable breakers

You can use several breakers inside a panel.

  • Breaker types which are listed on the panel's labeling, these will be made by the same manufacturer and the same type, and UL-listed.
  • Breaker types which are contemporary to your panel's labeling, but again are still the same manufacturer, and they state they will work in your panel, or substitute for breakers which are labeled for use in your panel. Also UL-listed.
  • Breakers which are made by a third party, who sends them to Underwriter's Laboratories to have them UL-listed for the competitor panel. UL calls this a "UL-Classified" breaker, and they run the same set of tests they run on factory breakers. If you research the manufacturer of the breaker and their classified breaker lines, they should show a cross-reference chart stating which factory breakers their Classified breakers can substitute for.

UL-Classified breakers

Classified is UL's way of saying these are not OEM breakers and do not have the benefit of the OE's expertise and trade-secret knowledge, but they do pass safety testing.

Keep in mind that a manufacturer's Classified breakers are different breakers than the OEM breakers they make for their own panels. For instance, Siemens QD breakers are classified for Square D QO panels, and must not be used in any Siemens panel of any kind.

Similarly, you will see that Eaton's CL line of breakers is not UL-classified for use in Eaton BR panels -- even though the breakers may look outwardly the same.

This should not be confused with cross-listing. For instance, Challenger panels have breakers known to be defective (but panels are fine). People seeking to replace those breakers find their panel labeling requires type C breakers. They are pleased to discover that Eaton's BR line is cross-listed as type BR and type C.

Your breakers

On your panel, we can strike out the Square D breakers immediately. Square D is absolutely opposed to "Classified" breakers. They refuse to make classified breakers for competitor panels, and they object to the use of Classified breakers in their panels (not that they have anything to say about it). So the Square D "HOMeline" breakers are out-of-place because Square D says so: You are using this breaker in contradiction to its labeling and instructions, which violates NEC 110.3(B).

It also violates NEC 110.2, which requires all equipment must be approved.

Siemens does make classified breakers. They make the QD type for Square D "QO" panels, and the MSQ type also for Square D "QO" panels. Now, Siemens' website just burned down so Google is useless (every page is 404). But from Google's view of their pages, it's clear they don't make UL-classified breakers for GE panels. Even if they did, their MP-T type is not that; being made exclusively for Murray lineage panels. As such, 110.3(B) and 110.2 apply, same as above.

The proper GE breakers are perfectly reasonably priced. If they weren't (QO isn't), then you could consider classified breakers made for that panel, such as Eaton CL. Do not use Eaton BR; as mentioned earlier, a manufacturer's classified lines are incompatible with their own panels, unless they are also classified for their own panels (The fact Eaton didn't classify the CL line for BR probably means they can't.)

  • Siemens site has some old stuff gone, but there is apparently new.siemens.com which is up & running and has plenty of content. My guess is their site crashed and they pushed out new.siemens.com while trying to figure out the old site. Perhaps the old one was hacked and this way they avoid any of the old links from going to bad stuff - easier to replace everything on a new (literally) subdomain. – manassehkatz-Reinstate Monica Nov 18 at 21:02
  • Thanks. I agree that replacing them with non-AFCI GE breakers is cheap and a no-brainer. But doesn't the replacement trigger AFCI requirements, which apply to pretty all of the breakers in NEC 2017 for residential settings? That brings the cost to about $45 per breaker or about $405 for 9 breakers. – user2503795 Nov 18 at 21:47
  • @user2503795, my understanding is that simply replacing the breaker with a new one of the same rating, without modifying the circuit in any other way, does not normally trigger AFCI upgrade requirements, unless your AHJ says otherwise. – Nate S - Reinstate Monica Nov 18 at 21:50
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    @user2503795 Not a problem. Simple repairs don't require a permit to be pulled. Replacing a wrong breaker is a repair. Just like if you crack an old NEMA 10-30 socket, you aren't required to retrofit ground and convert to NEMA 14; in-kind repair is the only reason 10-30s can still be sold. Second, inspectors know high upgrade demands only deter work and wouldn't thus block an important fix like this. Third, the inspector didn't approve it like this :) – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 18 at 21:57
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I'm not a Manufacturer nor an Underwriter and I'll disgust a few people here. But yes, they're absolutely fine if they're not causing any problems. They've proven themselves with their longevity.

That's my experience from trying what was available in the same exact dimensions and seating stiffness.

FYI, UL-Classified is a problem, but UL-Listed is not.

UL-Classified is the cheap garbage route by only partially meeting the safety standard in just very specific tests. UL-Listed is the full boat approval of the entire safety standard.

Though, if the MP-T, RT and RS aren't listed on any panel documentation and don't match any of the, assumed correct, GE breakers, then you can probe the situation a little deeper.

Change them out if: They are warmer than the GE's, are melting or deforming on any of their surfaces or are causing or showing any corrosion at their connection to wiring or to the bus bar.

Otherwise, all UL-Listed breakers (of the time) met all of the same requirements and duties demanded. Does age matter? Nope, not in the slightest...unless you're talking older is a whole lot better in every way.

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