7

I'm living in a roughly 70-year old house (built in the 50's) and the electric panel is original. We're going to upgrade it next year, but for now we don't have the cash.

We had to put a sump pump in the basement, and we wired a new outlet to the panel but realized that we couldn't find a compatible breaker anywhere. We checked eBay, Home Depot, Lowe's, and tons of small and large specialty shops to no avail.

I'm not well versed in electrical work or panels, but here's what I think we need, and I'll add some pictures underneath:

From the switch:

UND. LAB. INC. LIST
NI CIRCUIT BREAKER
1 POLE UNIT
ISSUE NO. GH. 17
TYPE CH
CUTLER-HAMMER INC.
L-4273
  • Single pole
  • 15A or 20A
  • 120/240V

The problem seems to be that our panel has a non-conducting stabilizing bar in the middle, which the breakers accommodate with a notch in their body. All of the modern breakers that we could find have simple square bodies without a notch, and so are blocked by the stabilizing bar. Please see the pictures below.

Breaker Switch



Breaker Label



Breaker Panel

0

2 Answers 2

15

Advice straight from the horse's mouth, as it were:

The notch allowed the breaker to fit over the rejection bar down the center of the old load centers. We do not offer breakers with the notch any longer so the solution is that we have to remove the rejection bar. we can either cut a piece out where we want to install the breaker or remove the whole bar by unbolting it at the top and bottom

Since that is the current manufacturer's recommendation, (not just some random person or bot on the internet said) you can follow it.

6
  • 1
    While we're at it, do the old CH breakers put the wire directly under the screw? I would expect the wires here to be under the plate.
    – KMJ
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 17:57
  • Hey, nice find! That's really helpful. It crossed my mind to cut the bar or remove it, but I wasn't sure how that would affect the integrity of the panel. Since you found it from the manufacturer though, I'll give it a shot. Thanks!!
    – Alex E
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 17:57
  • @KMJ I don't know if this answers your question, but the neutral (black) wire connects to the back of the breaker, and I think the other wires connect to the plate.
    – Alex E
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 17:59
  • 5
    @AlexE be very wary of the parts that cannot be switched off (unless you have an outside disconnect, which would be unusual at that vintage) when working in the panel to remove or cut the bar. This appears to be a "rule of 6" panel with no main breaker so the bus bars are connected to the transformer at all times.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 18:07
  • 1
    I'm looking at the second picture with the closeup on the wire connection to the breaker. The wire is directly under the screw, which isn't typical for a breaker.
    – KMJ
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 18:09
4

Eaton CH is the finest panel currently sold in the consumer space, and wouldn't be out of place in a Tesla Gigafactory.

I know you equate "old" with some sort of badness, but there isn't really anything that would deteriorate on a panel in a non-obvious way. With that bar gone, it will take common CH breakers including AFCI, GFCI, etc. Certainly don't leap from a CH to one of the cheaper lines like BR or HOM.

I mention that because it's not nearly full, so you're not doing it for more spaces. (And CH has 15-20A tandems).

If you replace it, feel free to get another CH.

3
  • 5
    It's still a rule-of-six panel which might be somewhat less than ideal by current standards, right? Or at least my feeling is that this sort of a setup is no longer used in new construction (presumably for $reasons), but I may be completely wrong.
    – TooTea
    Commented Dec 12, 2023 at 12:42
  • 1
    The point is the CH panel type (bus design and breaker catalog) is still problem-free and modern, as opposed to say Zinsco or FPE which are utterly defective no matter what. Panels like this are still perfectly usable today - sub-panels in the same panel as the main don't need a main breaker/local disconnect, for example. But yes, it is operating under the "rule of six" if there is no upstream disconnect. That may need to be addressed, but it doesn't require changing panel types.
    – nobody
    Commented Dec 13, 2023 at 3:36
  • 1
    @TooTea back in the day, a Rule of Six was an urgent candidate for replacement. But as of NEC 2023, any panel replacement triggers a requirement for a meter-main (outside fireman's disconnect typically meter-main). Once you install the outside main breaker, the core issue with Rule of Six panels is fully resolved, and the panel does not need replacement. This is typically significantly cheaper. Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 21:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.