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#174397 02/04/08 03:14 AM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
Junior Member
Hey guys. Just looking for your opinions. We are in the process of doing some upgrades to a retail space in a strip mall that has been vacant for over 1 year. This space is served by a 200 amp Homeline 30 space breaker panel. This panel contains a labes that states "Total Circuit Breaker Handle Rating Not To Exceed 185 Amperes Per Branch Circuit Connector". We have a new electrical inspector here, and he is interpreting that label to mean that 185 amps is the total breaker handle amp ratings for the entire panel. I interpret that to mean the max rating for each buss stab. What do you guys think?

It's all about herding those electrons.
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
30x 15A is 450A. They're clearly not referring to the entire panel. "Branch Circuit Connector" sounds like the stab. I agree with you; 185A max individual breaker rating.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,370
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
Leave it to a company controlled by lawyers and engineers to plaster their products with vague, confusing, and grammatically questionable statements. Not that I'm picking on Sq D .... it's hard for mt to recall any product whose labeling and instructions were a joy to read; "clear as mud" seems to be a universal these days.

Yet ... let's look at that statement a bit closer ... assuming, of course, that you repeated it correctly!

"Branch circuit connector" would seem to refer to the point where the branch circuit wire, uh, connects to the panel. That would be the 'out' screw / clamp on the breaker. By extension, it might also apply to where the breaker attaches to the buss. Before that point, it's not a 'branch' anymore; it's a 'feed.'

"Handle rating" is a bit more questionable. I have yet to see a handle that was expected to carry ANY current. I think they mean the number printed on the handle, indicating the rating of the breaker.

"Total" suggests the sum of more than one. I can see this situation, when the 'tandem' breakers let you hang two breakers off the same buss tab.

"185" is a strange figure. I can't say I've ever seen a 185, 190, or 195 amp breaker. Just 175 and 200. They can't be referring to the 200 amp main breaker that came with the unit; not even Sq D would deliberately break their own rules laugh. Naturally, if the main was 175 amps, it would not be a '200 amp' panel anymore.
Tandem breakers? I've seen tandem 30's .... but never tandem 90's. It would be a challenge connecting a pair of #3 wires in a single breaker space!

So, we're left peering at fine print that says, in effect, don't use equipment that doesn't exist in this panel.

Why couldn't they just say 'don't mount breakers with ratings in excess of 176 amps on this panel?'

Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 482
I vote for "per stab". I think it's actually pretty clear, when compared to your average label warning.

To convince your inspector, get in touch with the manufacturer and see if they have any clearer documentation on your particular panel model. If not, they could probably have one of their engineers send you a quick letter on company letterhead, which you can present to your inspector.

Good Luck!

Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 599
JBD Offline
If this is a per stab rating, then the sum of all breakers connected to that stab cannot exceed 185A.

Each stab can hold (2) full size breaker and sometimes (2) tandem breakers.

Ex. 1: A 200A breaker takes 2 stab locations (4 spaces) so these can be located anywhere in the panel.
Ex 2: A 125A breaker takes 1/2 stab location (1 space), so the breaker on the other 1/2 stab can not exceed a total handle rating of 60A.
Ex 3: A tandem 20/50 has a total handle rating of 70A so it can be located on the stab as any other breaker 110A or smaller.

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 214
Originally Posted by ArkySparky2B
... and he is interpreting that label to mean that 185 amps is the total breaker handle amp ratings for the entire panel...

This is usually a H.O. question, "should I be concerned that my 200 amp panel has 17 20 amp breakers in it? that's way more than 200 amps isn't it?"

and any electrical professional should be able to quickly reason "no, because in most applications the circuits draw less than their maximum ampacity" or alternately "The main breaker protects the feeder, the branch breakers protect the branch circuits"

I'd be very worried that you're inspector is making statements like this. And I agree with the interpretation that you cannot put more than 185 amps worth of protection on one stab.

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 330
JBD hit the nail right on the head. It is not something that I've worried about except with 125-150 amp breakers, and sorry to admit, was not aware of for the smaller combinations. Luckily, it has not come into play in my memory due to dumb luck of keeping the large breakers called out on one side of the panel.

Thanks to all of you for the education this morning. Keep up the good work!

Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,056
I'm with JBD...

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