I have a few projects in mind where it would be handy to have a dedicated circuit breaker accessible outside of the main breaker box. I don't want to go through the expense of buying a separate breaker box for a single circuit. I just want a circuit breaker that fits in a standard single gang electrical box and can be covered by a standard cover plate. The plate could be a standard light switch plate, a decorator plate, or duplex outlet plate. I've seen these before in a friend's apartment while at university where the studio apartment had a breaker by the door instead of a light switch. He said that if he overloaded the circuit he would flip the "light switch" off then on it would reset the outlets in the room.

I realize I could likely get a panel mount circuit breaker, a blank metal plate, then cut a hole in the plate to fit the breaker. If I needed only one of these then I'd just do that. I might want several of these and so I'd prefer to buy the proper part to make less work, have it not look like a hack job, and not raise too many questions if there is a city inspector coming to review my work.

Maybe all I need is the proper name for this part so I can search for it online or ask for it at a hardware store. In my experience the people at hardware stores are great at finding common items but if it's something even slightly out of the ordinary then I need to give them a precise name for it for them to find it for me in their vast inventory.

Again, I'm looking for a circuit breaker that looks, fits, and generally works like a standard light switch. I'd want it to be 15 or 20 amps, single pole rated for 120VAC and/or 12VDC. If there are other varieties available then that would be great too, such as double pole, 30 amp, and/or GFCI.

I know that there are switch and fuse holder combinations out there, I can see one on my furnace. That's not acceptable as that would be ugly, and cumbersome as I'd have to replace the fuse if there was an overload as opposed to just flipping a switch.

After reading some comments so far and doing more research I found that perhaps this is called a fusible switch, isolating switch, or disconnect switch. These appear to operate as I want but none I can find are made to fit in a standard wall box. Is there a name for the form factor for something that fits in a single gang electrical wall box? There's "panel mount" where I can cut or drill a hole in a blank cover plate but a cover plate isn't made to be load bearing, I'm afraid the plate will bend or rip and the breaker will fall out.

  • 2
    What exactly is the actual problem you want to solve using this setup? To me, this question feels like a X-Y problem. Perhaps it'd be better to focus on not tripping breakers in the first place? The "circuit breaker switch" can't be the only one on the circuit (something needs to protect the supply wiring to it), and using two breakers in series is likely not going to do what you want. There's no way to guarantee that the downstream one trips before the upstream one, unless the downstream breaker is significantly undersized.
    – TooTea
    Jun 24, 2021 at 10:23
  • " What exactly is the actual problem you want to solve using this setup? " I'm reluctant to go into that as I don't want people going off into tangents. I'm looking for a part that I've seen years ago but not again since. I know they are made but I don't know what they are called to narrow my search results.
    – MacGuffin
    Jun 24, 2021 at 10:33
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    @MacGuffin FYI, if you type @ then the first couple of characters of a user name, you'll get a list of users who match. You can then click to select one, and that person will get pinged to tell them they've got a reply. Saves a lot of comment space quoting (though sometimes that's still necessary so others know what you're addressing).
    – FreeMan
    Jun 24, 2021 at 12:50
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    " it may be that what you saw is no longer code compliant " I have 12VDC applications in mind so electrical code does not apply. I'd want to use standard electrical boxes and plates for ease of construction.
    – MacGuffin
    Jun 24, 2021 at 12:57
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    12VDC may complicate things a bit, as many (most?) standard AC circuit breakers are not designed/certified to work properly for DC. That said, I have a switch (probably at least 50 years old) in my basement that controls lights and receptacles in an area that at one time was a home workshop, and it has a built-in circuit breaker. I have never tripped the breaker, and I don't know whether, practically speaking, it would trip prior to the fuse in the main box, but presumably it was installed with that in mind. I looked once (for a prior DIY SE question) and couldn't find it by model # as Jun 24, 2021 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


Yes there are circuit breaker switches commonly used on low voltage equipment in the US you mentioned 12v. (Low voltage means different things to different people)

These switches are normally bat handle but the one I just popped up on line is rated for 240vac 50vdc 15amp (W31-x2m1g-15) is a 15 amp. These are commonly used in industrial equipment and on boats.

Amp ratings 1-10 then they jump 15,20 from what I use (I use a lot of 1’s 3’s and 5’s for equipment branch circuit protection.

I believe telemanique & Siemens make a breaker that mounts similar to a switch and has terminals looking more like what you want but they stick out much further. And the switch handle is different from a common switch, I will look for the part# this afternoon when I go to the building that has these. But there are breaker type switches that can be placed downstream from your existing overcurrent protection and have a local reset not taking out the entire circuit if properly sized.

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