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I have to change my Eaton breakers at my home. I am looking at Eaton 125 2-pole standard. Eaton is hard to find in Home Depot and Lowes, specially the 125 AMP. I went to couple of stores in my local area and they don't have it.

Now, I am looking online and I am seeing very different prices. For Lowes and Amazon the prices are for Cutler Hammer, which is owned by Eaton. So, I am expecting same prices but as you can see below the price difference is a lot.

  1. This one is listed for $76.12 at Lowes but they are out of stock (https://www.lowes.com/pd/Eaton-Type-BR-125-Amp-2-Pole-Standard-Trip-Circuit-Breaker/3047672)

  2. This one is listed on EatonOutletShop for $47.99 (https://www.eatonoutletshop.com/eaton-circuit-breakers-type-br-125-amp-2-pole-standard-trip-circuit-breaker/)

  3. This one on Amazon for $148 (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0009XAXJQ/ref=ask_ql_qh_dp_hza)

My question is are all these products same. If so, why such big difference in price. I am trying to be careful because this will be my main breaker for my home.

Any ideas?

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    Your main panel should have a label that states what make or types of breakers are listed(allowed) to go in it.
    – crip659
    Jul 11, 2022 at 18:41
  • These look like branch circuit breakers intended to feed a subpanel or electric furnace or tankless water heater. They are only used as a main breaker when backfeeding. Most panels have a dedicated space for a main breaker, and it's a different type. Also is your panel Eaton heritage, and why replace it? Also are you familiar with the procedure to swap a main breaker? You can't do it without the power company's help. Jul 11, 2022 at 19:03
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    When it comes to main breaker, you need to be careful. "Licensed handy man" in most places is not the same as "licensed electrician". Not a real issue for the little stuff. Mess up a branch circuit and really all you mess up is that circuit. Mess up the main breaker and you've got no power. Jul 11, 2022 at 19:58
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    The original is Cutler Hammer breakers (16 breakers including main and the panel). Electrician installed 4 new breakers, where one of them is GE 50 AMP. I called Eaton and they told me that GE is compatible so I can use it. Eaton 50 AMP is not even available in my area. I also ordered Eaton 125 AMP (main breaker) so it will arrive in few weeks. I just though it might be a good time to replace the main one also because it may have taken some damage. Eventually, replace the whole board with new breakers subtract the ones I already bought new.
    – Mary Doe
    Jul 11, 2022 at 20:44
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    @MaryDoe -- can you post photos of your existing electrical panel please? Jul 12, 2022 at 1:14

3 Answers 3

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Why does a 1/2 liter bottle of water cost:

  • $0.25 at Costco (less in a multi-pack)
  • $1.00 at a convenience store
  • $2.00 at a highway rest stop
  • $5.00 at a concert or ball game

But I digress.


For anything that you can't find at a reasonable price in a general store or in Amazon (the world's largest online general store) the solution is to go to a specialty store. There are not as many as there used to be, but when it comes to the building trades, that still applies:

  • Electrical - Go to an electrical supply house
  • Appliance Parts - Go to an appliance parts supply house
  • Plumbing - Go to a plumbing supply house
  • HVAC - Go to an HVAC supply house

You won't find these stores in the malls. They're usually off the beaten path in warehouses where the rent is cheaper. If you can't find one, ask an electrician.

These places may charge more for walk-in random homeowner customers, but except for certain items (e.g., HVAC - refrigerant and related things due to government regulations) they will generally sell you all the same stuff they sell to the professionals.

As far as why the places you have checked so far have such varying prices, there are a bunch of reasons:

  • Convenience
  • Overhead Costs
  • Because They Can Get Away With It

The last one is specific to Amazon. Amazon has incredible prices on a lot of things. I needed printer paper. Costco and Staples both charge higher prices for standard letter-size 20 lb. 92 brightness printer paper than Amazon, so I ordered from Amazon and it showed up the next day on my doorstep. But everyone needs printer paper. Relatively few people need a 125A breaker by itself (plenty get sold together with a panel and other breakers - which becomes an electrical supply house or Home Depot/Lowes thing). Somebody decided they could sell electrical parts on Amazon at a high price and if people bought it then it would be worth the costs to pack and ship and maybe even run out to an electrical supply house to pick up the part in the first place and make a nice profit. And for someone who can't easily get to an electrical supply house or Home Depot or Lowes, and who goes to Amazon and doesn't bother shopping around, it is a great deal because they make a few clicks and the product magically shows up.

Obviously you are an educated consumer and willing to shop around. So do that, and stick to Amazon for the stuff where they sell it cheaper. All that being said, watch out for counterfeit or used items on Amazon when it comes to safety-related items - and anything electrical is safety-related. A used breaker could have hidden damage. A counterfeit breaker might never work properly at all. Beware. That should not be an issue when buying from a local supply house or big box store.

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    The local trade stores will also have people that will give the right answers and parts you need. You won't have to guess if the part is correct, or buy because it looks close to what you want.
    – crip659
    Jul 11, 2022 at 18:46
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    Thanks! I called Eaton and they were able to give me website for the verified supplier. Thanks for the detail answer. I really appreciate it.
    – Mary Doe
    Jul 11, 2022 at 18:53
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    So many excellent points, so well made!
    – FreeMan
    Jul 12, 2022 at 15:51
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Eaton is hard to find in Home Depot and Lowes

Yeah, a lot of people get trapped in a "big box rut". They only see commercials for Home Depot and Lowes, the Sunday paper only has fliers from Home Depot and Lowes and sometimes Menards. For electrical, though, it pays to broaden your horizons to:

  • (family owned) local hardware stores, often trading under the ACE or HWI name. They have typically been there for 100 years.
  • (family owned) real lumber yards, that primarily sell building supplies. These differ from hardware stores by having a huge yard full of sheds containing lumber and other bulky building supplies you wouldn't find at a hardware store. Their lumber quality is notably better, and so are their prices.
  • Electrical supply houses. Typically small businesses, a few chains like Greybar or City Electric. They are optimized for the trade, but most I hope you aren't hypnotized into thinking local family owned businesses are bad or something.

The big-box stores are notorious for only stocking top sellers. They'll sell a complex conduit system with many parts, sell the left hand bends but not the right hand bends because the computer say they're not popular enough to stock. And their praces are abominable on non-top-sellers (the stuff hardly anyone price-checks on), like 4-11/16 steel boxes.

Now, I am looking online and I am seeing very different prices.

That is typical and normal with electrical gear. I think the root problem is, you know with consumer goods, companies are eager to sell them online and lots of people want to buy online. But electrical stuff is really trade goods, and there are 3 big problems with selling that online. Other than basic basics like outlets, 99% of sales are to the trade - 99.9% for arcana like 125A breakers.

First, electrical gear is heavy, bulky and low value, so shipping charges become an outsize percentage of total purchase price. It simply makes more sense to distribute electrical gear by the truckload to local supply houses. Second, the trade already has a local supply chain who gives same day turnaround, so they wouldn't ever mail-order that stuff. Which leaves ... (third) amateurs who do not know what they are doing are the bulk of your customers, which means lots of misapplication, mis-ordering and misuse, which means lots of handholding, returns and chargebacks.

The results is totally bonkers online pricing. Anyone with good product is giving their "I don't wanna sell it" price (or to be more precise, their "I don't wanna ship it / deal with amateurs" price). They prey on non-price-sensitive people.

And anyone with good pricing is either a fool, or selling used goods or counterfeits.

I have to change my Eaton breakers at my home.

That's a fairly weird thing to do, unless you have Challenger breakers or an Eaton lineage panel with a bunch of non-Eaton breakers in it. Perhaps you should ask the opinion of experts as to whether that is necessary or what is best to do.

I'm also concerned that you're looking for a BR2125, which is a branch circuit breaker intended to feed subpanels, electric furnaces etc. It's only used as a main in a "backfeeding" situation (and you have a tie-down kit, right?) Modern Eaton panels that are "convertible" actually require a different model of main breaker.

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  • Yes. That is the main breaker that a licensed electrician will change. Our AC was out yesterday and the electrician noticed that there is no power. We opened the breaker box and found that many (4) breakers were destroyed by heat. Maybe power surge or continuous heat for long time. I ordered the 125 AMP main breaker online and when it arrive the electrician will fit it in.
    – Mary Doe
    Jul 11, 2022 at 20:02
  • @MaryDoe the usual reason for breakers to get cooked is a) the wire terminal was not torqued to spec, or b) the wrong brand of breaker in a panel, causing bad contact at the bus stabs. That is why I do not want you to buy the same breaker brand, I want you to buy the brand correct for the panel. Also, bus stab burn-up usually takes out the panel too. Jul 11, 2022 at 20:12
  • The electrician noticed the the main breaker had loose connection. That might be the reason for other burnt breakers. All 16 but one is now of different brand. 15 are Cutler Hammer/Eaton (Same company) and one 50 AMP is GE. I was not able to find Cutler Hammer/Eaton for 50 AMP in my area. That is the one running the AC.
    – Mary Doe
    Jul 11, 2022 at 20:32
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I should note that we're writing all this in the post-Covid shortage era.

Last year, I needed to add a subpanel to my kitchen. Covid prompted governments to dole out money and a lot of people put that money into their houses. As a result, there was a spike in demand for building supplies. Subpanels were really hard to find for a while. I lucked out and caught a Square D Homelite panel in-stock at the local big-box.

Square D breakers became crazy scarce after that. They had had to shut down their main plant in Mexico for some time in 2020 and the shortages were starting to bubble up to the big-box stores. Bubbles of shortages have hit every manufacturer.

The way the shortages work is that the big box stores do not specialize in any one area. They order a few pallets and distribute them to their stores from various warehouses. So maybe your store gets a couple hundred every month. In a demand spike, that means they run out first. The chain itself has no incentive to order more to meet demand (which could drop), so they simply sit out-of-stock.

A supply house makes no money if they're out-of-stock. They will typically work across the board to ensure they have inventory, and because they specialize in electrical products, they can afford to have a glut of them around because they will eventually get sold. Even when the big boxes were sold out for months, I could still find the Square D breakers I needed at a local supply house.

I am looking at Eaton 125 2-pole standard. Eaton is hard to find in Home Depot and Lowes, specially the 125 AMP.

This effect is even more pronounced on the larger breakers. The reason for the price variance is that prices have been swinging wildly with the shortages. For example, the other day I went to my big box and noticed that 50' of 12/2 UF cable (heavily coated direct-bury) was cheaper than 50' of 12/2 NM cable. And I mean the NM cable was 50% higher than its UF counterpart. Now, the larger spools didn't have this inversion (250' of UF was slightly more expensive than 250' of NM), but that's probably because 50' of UF doesn't sell very fast. I would expect when they sell out of that UF cable, the price of the next box of those packages will be higher. As such, your breaker prices reflect places that probably have sold out and not gotten any new replacements, thus the price reflects the old stock, not the new.

In this same vein, your 125A breakers don't sell as fast because they're not cheap. I had a breaker panel at a new location I was working on fry a larger breaker like this and I could not find any local sources (highest I could find was 50A 240v, which is a bit more common). You still cannot find them very easily because of the shortages, but also because big boxes don't want to get stuck with a glut of them they can't sell whenever the economy catches up (demand won't stay crazy high forever).

One suggest I have is take advantage of searching all nearby inventory on big box websites. They might not have any near you, but what about 100 miles away? Home Depot's site says they have a couple in-stock 50 miles away. It puts that Amazon price into perspective. Another option is to order one with ship-to-store. They'll usually do it for free (the trucks run from the warehouses either way) and you might get one in a timely fashion.

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  • Thanks! I already ordered it online and it should arrive next week. The current main breaker is working fine. I just found out that there is a store 40 miles away and they have one left too. Will it be wise to buy 2 since they are in short supply and I may need them in FAR future.
    – Mary Doe
    Jul 12, 2022 at 18:15
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    @MaryDoe I would not assume the current shortages will last forever. Eventually there will be enough on the market to more easily buy one. Unless you like having $120 breakers sitting around.
    – Machavity
    Jul 12, 2022 at 18:17
  • Thanks! Makes sense! My current(old) main breaker is working fine. Electrician said it was the main breaker that was loose and because of that other breakers got fried. Currently main breaker is working fine but it is 22 years old. My online order will arrive next week so I can call the Electrician and get it replace with new one even though it is working fine.
    – Mary Doe
    Jul 12, 2022 at 18:21

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