I've not been around as long as some, but in my young life, I've found that Cutler Hammer stuff is ok, the only thing being that the "hooks", made of plastic, on the outer end of the breakers, used to hold the breaker in place, tend to break off. I've had reasonable luck with the Pass & Seymour stuff, and not such good luck with Eagle, in fact, the 3-way switches are one of the bigest causes of call backs. My all time favorite is Square D products, they are easy to use, and are made well. Tend to cost a little more, but I think that in this case you get what you pay for. Where I live, in New Martinsville, West Virginia, Seimens and Murry (Seimens products, with a diffrent label) is reasonable value. And it's mostly all you can get here in the hills of the Mountain State, at least where I am.
Eagle and P+S have both improved substantially in quality over the past few years. In fact, a few supply stores in my area have dropped Leviton in favor of P+S. And they don't cost any more than Leviton stuff. I saw P+S 15 amp GFI's for $5 and 20 amp ones for $7 at the supply store the other day. I'll use P+S, Leviton, or Eagle. It's all pretty good. I just try to avoid any Chinese made knock-offs that are becoming available now.
Square D, as you may know, makes world class products. It's expensive, but the general concensus is that it's the best. As far as Siemens switchgear goes, a foreman told me that "Siemens" is German for "junk." Cutler Hammer and T+B stuff is nearly identical, and it's reasonably good quality. My preference is Square D, and I'll use C-H and T+B as well. I havent ever seen Zinsco stuff where I live. I think it's more common in the western states.
[This message has been edited by CTwireman (edited 04-27-2002).]
Schneider Electric (parent company of SqD) purchased majority shares of Legrand last year and was forced to divest it's majority holding by the Euro equivalant of the SEC. The Legrand products I've used are on par with the SqD products.
Sorry, I forgot about Siemens. I know they sell here, but I think it's mostly big industrial switchgear and control instrumentation, etc. I've never seen a small Siemens panel for general light-duty residential/small commercial use.
LeGrand has been selling here since, I believe, the 1980s. I've seen some of their devices in residential work, but it's rare. Again, I think at the moment they're more on the industrial side. Their fittings are common in France, though, as you might expect.
The Rolls-Royce of wiring devices in Britain is MK, a company which dates back to the 1910s. Good quality, but much more expensive than most of the others. Crabtree are also another well-respected make.
Wylex and MEM used to be two of the most common makes for distribution panels and other associated switchgear.
GE is big where we are. I find that they offer quality products of good value. I would still have to say that Square-D beats them all. We did use Cut-Ham on a regular basis but it seems that since CH and Westinghouse merged, CH products cheepened their products considerably. As for Siemens, as far as I'm concerned they offer the lowest quality product around. We never install Seimens but I have serviced panels where lugs were loose from the factory and I know that the threads in bus bars easily strip out in bolt-in panels. I avoid Seimens products at all costs. As to devices I would have to say that that P&S makes a very good product. It seems that the people at P&S have some knowledge of field conditions and make their products more "user friendly".