Electrical Panels and Breakers Matching

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Posted by: from Toronto
11/11/2021 at 6:46:22 PM

I was told by my contractor the upon inspection, the inspector is not passing the electrical work that was done because the brand's of the breaker and panels do not match. Is this not something that the LEC should have noticed at the beginning of all the electrical work that started 4 months ago and then throughout all these months? He has been to our home multiple times . Can anyone advise why the inspector from the ESA is seeing this now and the LEC did not?

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Date/Time11/12/2021 at 5:54:19 AM

Hello Nazia.

Thank you for posting your question on TrustedPros. The issue of incompatible breakers has been raised by numerous people, both customers and contractors.

Is it really that critical that breakers match the brand of load center? The Ontario Electrical Safety Code (OESC) says it is.

Two load centers in particular often get interchanged: Siemens and Eaton. Both brands of breakers will physically fit in both brands of load centers. If it fits then is it really a problem?

It indeed is a problem not only because installing an incompatible breaker is against code but also because manufacturers of electrical components design and build these components with specific tolerances. Ignoring this puts your load center at risk of fire.

Back to the example of Siemens and Eaton; Siemens offers breakers for the old ITE, Blueline and even Square D load centers. They are allowed to do this because they manufacture these breakers for those panels. They have the documentation to support this.

Contractors, handymen or homeowners may or may not know better. The licensed Electrical Contractor in your case should have known better and the electrical inspector is completely justified failing the inspection because it is in his rights and responsibility to do so.

This whole ordeal is probably quite frustrating for you but hopefully you can move forward and ultimately get the inspection passed.

We wish you all the best.

Kirsch Electric

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Nazia in Toronto
Date/Time11/12/2021 at 6:28:56 AM

Thank you. I understand it's a requirement of the code. My question is: was this something the electrician should have seen right away and would have known it was not to code at the beginning of our renovation? I feel like he's trying to get extra money from us for something that should have been done and known. My contractor said from the beginning "we have to do everything to code" which I agree with completely. I'm just confused why something that seems so basic for an LEC was missed and now will cost me extra.

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Date/Time11/12/2021 at 1:50:18 PM

Hi Nazia,

As Henry mentioned above it is a code rule to use the certain manufactures breaker in their own panel. However Henry also explained the exceptions. There is a lot of confusion sometimes with LEC's about when you can use a different breaker within a panel.

Regardless of if your LEC should have known better the fact is it needs to be changed. I doubt he did it on purpose to get more money out of you as now he has a defect against him which ruins your standing with ESA.

Even if he did quote it properly from the beginning then your quote would be more then what it is now. Either way the inspector wants it changed so have him change it. You can still get a quote from him for the new breakers and maybe you can come to an agreement on a fair price.

Believe it or not LEC's are not out to get you or trick you we are actually the ones trying to do things properly and honestly. I know it's an unfortunate situation and imagine pretty frustrating but it's time to just get it done and move on.

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Nazia in Toronto
Date/Time11/12/2021 at 2:07:45 PM

Thank you. I appreciate this info.

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Ouri from Surrge in Markham
Date/Time11/12/2021 at 4:13:44 PM

Yes, the panel brand an the breakers should match.

If it's an existing panel Before the electrician start the work This is not his responsibility. But as a responsible tradesman he should have point it out to the customer

If the electrician install new panel, he should go back and replace the non matching breakers

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Date/Time11/14/2021 at 12:02:50 PM

Same as above... but if you are dealing with a older tradesman he may have not known this or forgot at the time of buying are changing every year. As a general contractor 20 years now, I always ask my trades guys 1st before starting installs and am never surprised when something new is told to me. Regardless though if he is reputable, he will fix it for you free of charge for the labor, the panels etc. should be able to be returned for exchange if he supplied them from his supplier or he will need to pay for all of it...expensive lesson for him.

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Date/Time11/26/2021 at 12:17:50 AM

Hi Nazia

I think we all agree that the breakers must match the panel. I think every LEC knows that and that if your LEC has a permit for the work and is getting it inspected, he sounds like a good LEC.

What I am not clear on is if this is a new panel that was installed or if this was an old panel that the LEC added to.

If it is a new panel that was installed by the LEC, then definitely he dropped the ball, or at least some of his people did. Currently there is a shortage of breakers and panels due to supply chain issues, I have been waiting for some breakers for months now. I hope that your LEC was not trying to cobble something together just to get it to work. This would be a fail.

Now if the panel was existing and had the wrong breakers in it, then technically that is not his responsibility to fix, however he knows the inspector will pick it up. The question is whether or not it was included in your job to replace those breakers? The inspector should not defect the LEC's work because of previous work done, but the inspector may hold up the final inspection because of an unsafe condition regardless of who did the work.

I can say with 100% honesty, I have missed some non-compliant breaker installs over the years, and if I did not include them in the job, I would just fix the situation anyway. Unless they are AFCI breakers, they are pretty cheap at about $10-$20 each, not a show-stopper by any stretch.


John L. Kuehnl-Cadwell, CD

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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