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Mismatched Breakers: Can Breaker “X” Go Into Panel “Y”?

By July 14, 2020Electrical
Mismatched breakers

We often get the question, can this branded breaker go into a different branded panel? While the short answer is it depends, let’s talk about why mismatched breakers can cause issues. Furthermore, let’s talk about why home inspectors continuously write up mismatched breakers.

Are Mismatched Breakers a Defect?

Breakers are tested and designed to fit their branded electrical panel by Underwriter Laboratories (UL) and their manufacturer. UL tests pretty much all electrical panel breakers to ensure they properly function inside their panels without hazards.

Moreover, manufacturers will approve other branded breakers for their electrical panel. So how can you tell if it is a defect or not? Well, check the electrical panel for instructions.

Checking The Panel Instructions

Most electrical panels will have instructions that state the type of circuit breakers that will fit that panel. In almost all cases, it will be their own branded circuit breakers and occasionally some other breaker brands.

Why Do Home Inspectors Find Mismatched Breakers & Report Them?

This is a common occurrence during the home inspection. Generally speaking, electricians, handy people, or homeowners often are the ones that install the wrong branded circuit breaker on a different electrical panel.

The reason? Well, they just do not have that branded circuit breaker of that size with them. Also, circuit breakers are usually a universal fit, meaning they connect the same way as others (assuming it is the same size breaker).

What To Do About It

If you find yourself with an electrical panel that has different branded breakers than what is recommended, there is no reason for a huge concern. Simply check the electrical panel to see if you can find which circuit breakers are approved for that panel.

Next, if you have to replace them, it is easy to do! You can find plenty of helpful YouTube videos on how to replace a breaker. Also sales associates at Lowe’s or Home Depot can help you find the right breaker.

Can The Wrong Breaker Cause A Fire?

Well, maybe. It’s not universally well-known. The only thing that is known, is different branded breakers are not designed nor tested for a different branded electrical panel unless otherwise specified.

When To Call A Licensed Electrician

If you are not handy or run into issues finding the approved breakers, be sure to contact a licensed electrician. While most circuit breakers are cheap to replace and somewhat easy to do, it is best to call a professional for help when you need it.

Summing It Up

If you are interested in more information on circuit breakers, we have one on double taps!

Be sure to comment down below if you have a question! 🙂

Aaron Shishilla

Author Aaron Shishilla

Aaron Shishilla is the youngest registered professional inspector in Florida. Coming from a family-owned home inspection company and now the marketing manager at Waypoint.

More posts by Aaron Shishilla

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