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#26488 - 06/12/03 09:33 PM Switchgear and Panelboard Opinions
caselec Offline
Registered: 04/14/02
Posts: 557
Loc: San Jose, CA
I'm interested in getting some feedback on new switchgear and panelboards (not residential loadcenters). What are your likes and dislikes from the various manufactures. I realize that on most projects this equipment gets selected by which vender has the best quote but for the projects I work on I'm not stuck using the lowest price.

The reason I am asking this is I had been pretty much using IEM for all of my power needs but after 50 years in business they recently closed. In my opinion and many other contractors that I have talked all think IEM's equipment was much better built than any of the big manufactures but I guess all good things must come to an end.

Curt Swartz
Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
#26489 - 06/13/03 08:04 AM Re: Switchgear and Panelboard Opinions
Ron Offline
Registered: 03/13/02
Posts: 577
Loc: White Plains, NY
With some handholding (specification), all of the major manufacturers can produce a good product. Direct them to the type of material to use. Copper, insulators, etc.
#26490 - 06/13/03 08:16 AM Re: Switchgear and Panelboard Opinions
HotLine1 Online   content

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6833
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
In our area, we have a local switchboard mfg, (Gavin-Graham) that creates a real nice custom gear, but alas, yes it's "pricey".
Ya get what ya pay for.
The "major" brands (Sq D, & CH) make decent equipment. C-H being Challenger/Cuttler Hammer, and whoever else merged or got gobbled up by them.

Yes, sometimes price influences the outcome. Also, "hunger" at the mfg end can sometimes make a $$$ difference. THe 6-8 weeks lag time can be a pain in the neck sometimes, and if ya want it "quick", the "surcharge" costs are really stiff.

Seems the C-H goods are a factory assembly of "tinker toy" parts, haven't figured out what takes 6-8 weeks as of yet.

Yes, there are options for the buss, alum or copper, with $$ differences. Reliability is good; last problem we had, a CT section fell of the back of the truck... got pretty crunched-up, took a while determine responsibility, ship it back, and wait for another serction to be built.

#26491 - 06/13/03 10:17 PM Re: Switchgear and Panelboard Opinions
Nick Offline
Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 603
Loc: Riverside, CA
When given the choice I’ll take Square D. Great product, great service, fantastic web site for info. I worked on an IEM line up once that another contractor installed. It was pretty good stuff. It cam full of Cutler Hammer breakers if I remember correctly.
I had a bad experience with GE a few years ago. They were low bid on the job I am presently starting. It remains to be seen if they can redeem themselves.
#26492 - 06/14/03 04:58 AM Re: Switchgear and Panelboard Opinions
George Corron Offline
Registered: 05/16/01
Posts: 728
Loc: Lorton, Va USA
In the late 80's, I did a PM program for a large chain. They had approximately 85% Square D panels, 10% Cutler Hammer, 5% other. 600 stores, I bought a case of QO120's, 220's, etc to start, along with a case of CH like breakers. I never did buy more QO's, had to repurchase CH about 3 more times, moderately loaded to nearly unloaded breakers exceeding their heat parameters.

Zoom to around 2000, lotsa CH medium voltage gear on a large project, lotsa CH 480 volt gear. Folks, they don't have a QC plan that is evident. Somehow I lost the videotape of a training session where the factory rep is reaching into a 480 volt gear to explain something to the group assembled, the wiring harness had been shorted by a cut bolt on the door, lotsa flames, smoke, and sparks, no on damaged but I don't expect those BVD's ever came clean.

We replaced a piece of weatherproof Buss-duct 3 times before I left that project, not damaged it would just blow - I had pushed for not using the bd in that case, but CH swore they made the best in the business.

Nuff said,

Square D - engineering department hard to nail down, but they back their stuff and don't ship trash.
#26493 - 06/14/03 12:38 PM Re: Switchgear and Panelboard Opinions
Bjarney Offline
Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2561
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
One problem is that the “big boys” use robotic assembly for many steps of production, and they are hell-bent on recovering their investment in automation. That makes anything that is not absolutely plain vanilla cost increasingly extra due to human handling. This non-automated step makes a low-bid product’s price tag head for the moon, with their ‘average’ quality suffering tremendously.

[This message has been edited by Bjarney (edited 06-14-2003).]
#26494 - 06/23/03 08:47 PM Re: Switchgear and Panelboard Opinions
caselec Offline
Registered: 04/14/02
Posts: 557
Loc: San Jose, CA
Thanks for the reply's!

Nick, I'll be interested to hear back from you after you install the GE gear for this new project. I was at a job site recently (not one of mine) that had new GE panelboards and wasn't impressed with the quality at all. They were built about the same as load centers. The gauge of the metal was very thin and the doors were almost impossible to get closed.

Curt Swartz


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