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Square D warning on Classified Circuit Breakers: This article reports on safety concerns with use of non OEM circuit breakers in various electrical panels, specifically the use of Classified circuit breakers or other interchangeable circuit breakers in Square D electrical panels. The concerns raised by Square-D in this notice may pertain to use of interchangeable circuit breakers in other electrical panel brands as well. Readers of this article should also see SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS. This website provides information about a variety of electrical hazards in buildings, with articles focused on the inspection, detection, and reporting of electrical hazards and on proper electrical repair methods for unsafe electrical conditions.

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Square D Warns Against Use of Classified Circuit Breakers

Square D Company (Groupe Schneider)

August 30, 1995
TO: Electrical Inspectors
FROM: Jim Pauley, Manager, Industry Standards

SUBJECT: Classified Circuit Breakers

Square D Company recognizes the important electrical safety role played by electrical inspectors. because of this role, we want you to be aware of the possible reduction in the level of public safety from the use of Classified circuit breakers and other types of interchangeable circuit breakers.

Square D opposes the use of Classified circuit breakers and other forms of interchangeable circuit breakers in panels not listed or labeled to accept them. Our position is based on the National Electrical Code (NEC) Section 110-3(b) that requires equipment to be "used or installed in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling," and our concern with public safety.

Enclosed is literature on the topic and photos of actual field failures involving Classified circuit breakers that were installed in Square D panels. As you can see, use of these circuit breakers may result in reduced electrical protection, loss of warranty, and a reduced level of safety. Many of your fellow electrical inspectors regard use of these circuit breakers as a Code violation.

Square D's reputation was built on quality, unsurpassed electrical protection, and a concern for public safety. That reputation, and the safety of our customers, may be threatened by the use of Classified and interchangeable circuit breakers.

That's why we have taken a leadership role in the education of the public regarding the possible risks associated with the use of Classified and interchangeable circuit breakers.

We encourage you to use the information enclosed to maintain the excellent record of safety we enjoy in U.S. electrical Installations.

Jim Pauley
Manager, Industry Standards

[Enclosed photographs and data are reproduced below.]

Challenger circuit breaker failure Challenger circuit breaker failure

Here is an example of what could happen when a Classified circuit breaker is used with a Square D load center. Square D load centers are designed as a system with mechanical, electrical and heat dissipation standards which exceed minimum standards. Square D's warranty is void when a Classified breaker is installed.

Square D QO load cenerA consumer information flyer from Square D includes text citing that Genuine QO circuit breakers are available only from Square D. Though circuit breakers that fit Square D QO load centers are available, Square D's flyer informs consumers that imitations ar rarely as good as the real thing. Square D's flyer continues that QO circuit breaker 15A and 20A QWIK-OPEN® breakers can trip "faster than the blink of an eye on overcurrents as low as 200 amps."

["Load Centers" are listed and marked as panelboards but commonly called "load centers".]

The flyer points out that QO circuit breakers have been tested and are UL Listed as a system for use in all QO load centers and panelboards. UL Classified imitation QO circuit breakers have not undergone the same testing as genuine QO circuit breakers, and have not been tested in all equipment marked to accept QO circuit breakers.

While the standard QO load center has a 22,000/10,000 amperes short circuit current rating, UL Classified imitation QO breakers are prohibited from use in series rated applications, or applications where there is greater than 10,000 amperes available fault current. The only way to be certain of a UL Listed combination and proper application is to use only genuine QO circuit breakers in Q) equipment.

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