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I have a Challenger panel board and one of my breakers is no good. When I went to buy a new one they don't carry them anymore. They said they only carry the after-market ones. So I got that one, but it looks different than the original one. Will it fit in even though it's a different looking one?

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    Can you post photos of the breaker panel? (Include the label on the inside of the door.) – ThreePhaseEel May 27 '16 at 3:19
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    I just removed a small Challenger (stab-lok, FPE) because of all the problems I have read about (it was in an older section of the mill) and a panel that needed upgrading. just for grins I tested the breakers there were 6 that failed to reset after tripping (well 3 double pole) and 1 single pole that did not trip at 40A (it was a 20A breaker). I have read in Canada similar breakers did not have the problems the US ones had. be cautious. here is 1 of many links. There were 16 total breakers in the panel. – Ed Beal May 27 '16 at 13:31
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You can use BRs instead of Cs

If your panel labeling says it takes type C breakers, then there's an easy way out of it: type BR breakers (as depicted below, with the type C labeling highlighted) are legal, safe, and widely-available (at any big-box or hardware store) replacements for type C breakers, as they are cross-listed (as per this letter from UL to Cutler-Hammer, as reproduced at the bottom of this post) and cross-labeled to replace type C breakers. (A more modern version of this letter is available, linked from an Eaton FAQ.)

picture of type BR breaker with the type C labeling on it highlighted

For more exotic Challenger breaker types, Eaton cross-reference document TD01201041E provides the gory details.

letter from UL to C-H saying that type BR is legal to replace type C

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You might want to think about replacing the entire panel sometime soon. Just Google Challenger, Stablok, Federal Pacific. Eaton makes replacement inserts to keep old box, but have new guts...main breakers, bus bars, circuit breakers etc. Old box, old wires new everything else.

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    I suspect the Challenger type C may have used the Stab-Lok breaker guts at some point in time, but I seriously doubt that Challenger ever used the Stab-Lok busbar design with type C breakers (otherwise, the BR crosslist wouldn't have been possible) – ThreePhaseEel Jul 1 '18 at 16:00
  • @ThreePhase. The inserts I am referring to are the main bus bars, nuteral and ground bars....literally everything but the box and wiring is replaced. The come in both Br and Ch style inserts. I found them too late, I replaced my 1990's Challenger box with an Eaton Br 42 space box. – Limo DRIVER Jul 1 '18 at 16:12
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    I know about the Eaton retrofit kits :) – ThreePhaseEel Jul 1 '18 at 17:23
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    @LimoDRIVER we get what you're referring to about the retrofit kit, I for one just don't agree with your throwing Challenger boards into the same category of "OMG hair on fire must replace NOW" that Stabloks and Zinsco have so richly earned. A challenger's buses are no worse than BR's and in fact the breakers can be changed to BR as TPE says, or rather, as UL says. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 7 '18 at 1:08
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    @LimoDRIVER -- but is their beef with the loadcenter interior (busbar system) or the individual circuit breakers themselves? – ThreePhaseEel Sep 11 '18 at 17:25
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It will likely fit & you probably won't have any problems. But, read the panel's door for specifics of a replacement. Some panels are very particular about what materials or brands of breakers go in.

If there's no mention of "only these brands", then whatever fits securely will be fine...they all have to meet the same standards, looks don't mean anything to electricity.

  • No, you can't use any random brand of breaker in any random panel. Many will snap in, and seem to fit, but if you're actually paying attention you'll notice the insertion force is all wrong. That's because the clip is not engaging the bus stab properly, and this results in a point connection, causing arcing and then burn-up of the bus bar. Now you have a dead slot in your panel, or worse. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 3 at 15:20
  • Yep, my answer completely agrees. The Asker did buy the proper replacement "Type" and was only concerned that it looked different, thus my answer. I also detailed the importance of reading the panel for instructions and precautions. I've had 3 panels in my life that had zero information and what "fit securely" never failed on any level for decades of use. – Iggy Nov 4 at 2:26
  • Wow, no... you still think it's about brands instead of UL listing/classificaition, and you think lack of labeling is permission and fit is good enough. None of that is true. Electrical failures are rare enough that you being lucky is not an indicator of anything. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 4 at 4:20
  • I really do appreciate your expertise, but I've asked electricians and even had a former electrician at my local Home Depot that I got a 2nd opinion from. They all said if the toe's nub seats and the heal scrapes-on snugly and the cover's slot fits to secure the breaker, then you're good to go. Luck or not, over 60-breakers have worked flawlessly, haven't heated up, melted, exihibit no electrolysis or other corrosion and trip upon testing. What other choice of try-it would anyone have? ...replace the entire panel over completely unfounded paranoia? – Iggy Nov 4 at 4:45
  • All due respect, listen to yourself. You are saying your personal experience + the advice of a Home Depot clerk trumps the long experience and best practices of an entire industry. Why not simply identify the panel, and then search for listed or classified breakers? Not rocket science, and in this particular case there's a very easy answer. Since BR/C breakers directly fit it, why fool around with anything else? Oh, and about HD clerks... more than one local electrical supply house owner I know trolls Home Depots looking for clerks who know anything, and hires them away. Who's left? :) – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 4 at 4:52

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