"retainers" for breakers?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by shawnharper, Feb 8, 2008.

  1. shawnharper

    shawnharper New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Hope you guys can help me here, as the "pros" at the electrical distributor shop were stumped.

    At my final a couple weeks back, the inspector was darn fair. He found a few things to fix, and this is the last one...

    I have two "main" panels for the house, both of about the same size. One on the outside, then one on the inside (that's fed from the one on the outside).

    outside
    [​IMG]

    inside
    [​IMG]

    On the inside one, there's a feed - dual breaker - going to a smaller breaker box that's dedicated to my power tools (so I could lock it out if I wanted to).

    dual breaker, pulled off, showing the retainer the electrical place sold me. [​IMG]

    The inspector says I need some kind of retainer holding this dual breaker down, so that when you flip it off, it won't pull out of the panel (funny thing though - he didn't mention the same requirement for the ones for the oven just adjacent to it).

    My outside panel has one of these retainers- for the MAIN power breaker(s) - 200A.

    Here's the one on the main panel outside. There's screws
    [​IMG]

    BUT, on my inside panel, there's nothing "behind" the breaker that will allow me to fasten it down.

    Any suggestions on this? The "box number" of my inside panel is BXH26/K if that helps. Square D's website is where I found that gold colored bracket (that doesn't fit), and otherwise was no help.

    Thanks,
    Shawn
  2. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    The inspector is quoting 408.16(F) Back-Fed Devices.

    Plug in type overcurrent protection devices or plug-in type-main lug assemblies that are backfed and used to terminate field-installed ungrounded supply conductors shall be secured in place by an additional fastener that requires other than a pull to release the device from the mounting means on the panel.

    so basically what this means is that if you are backfeeding a breaker to supply a panel you need a means of holding that breaker in place.... THis would only take place if you bought a main lug panel and wanted a MAIN disconnect...
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2008
  3. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    You dont even need this since your NOT backfeeding a breaker...
  4. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    996
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    What Chris said!
    Also, DO NOT (!!!!) attempt to install this device. Like you said, there is NO place to screw it to. If you try you'll quickly find the live buss bars.

    The outside panel is a "one sided" panel if you notice. This is why there is a place it install a back-feed breaker hold down.
  5. shawnharper

    shawnharper New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Great info guys, but I'm afraid I actually am backfeeding (I don't really know the definition).

    The breaker he's saying needs to be retained leads to another small panel in the garage, that has 4x 20A breakers in it (for my tools).

    Having said this, does your previous statements still hold true, that I DON'T need the hold down?

    I agree, there's no easy way to hold it down, unless I rig something (a little metal tab?) to the front of the panel cover to secure it.

    Sincere thanks for the advice gents.

    -Shawn (homeowner who's contractor skipped out on him and who's left to finish the job himself)
  6. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    996
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    This breaker DOES NOT need to be retained. This is NOT a "backfeed" breaker.
    If the AHJ says it does he is most certainly incorrect.
  7. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Backfeeding means that you're bringing in power through a circuitbreaker on the bus (and not a dedicated main CB for the panel). In your case if you were backfeeding you would have a power source on your subpanel for your tools and using that to power the panel in question.

    Ask the inspector to clarify his request. Attempting to install that without a suitable method of doing so would likely violate other codes as well.
  8. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689


    Does this 4x20A smaller panel have a main breaker or just lugs?

    If it HAS a main, THAT is the one that would be required to be screwed in place or changed to lugs.
  9. shawnharper

    shawnharper New Member

    Messages:
    23
    I still don't really understand backfeeding.

    Alectrician - Your question: "Does this 4x20A smaller panel have a main breaker or just lugs?"

    If I understand this right, it just has lugs. Meaning, there's no breaker in that panel that cuts off all 4 of the 4x20s. There's just the 4x20s in there.

    So, what specifically should I tell my inspector? Telling him "But those guys over at Terry Love said that the hold-down isn't required" is not going to get the job done, if you know what I mean... ;)
  10. shawnharper

    shawnharper New Member

    Messages:
    23
  11. jbfan74

    jbfan74 Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    131
    Location:
    Newnan, GA
    If the subpanel just has lugs, and no main breaker, then you do not have a backfed breaker. If it had a main beraker, you would not have a backfed breaker
    If you used a breaker in the normal position in the panel, to feed that panel, then you would have a backfed breaker.
  12. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    It is very easy to become UNCONFUSED in this matter.

    If the breaker is energized through the STABS that mate with the bus bars, IT IS NOT A BACK-FED BREAKER and DOES NOT need to be fastened in place.

    If the breaker IS ENERGIZED BY THE WIRES COMING TO THE BREAKER, so that if you pulled the breaker out of the panel the STABS connecting to the bus bar would be hot, THEN IT IS A BACK-FED BREAKER AND MUST BE FASTENED IN PLACE SO IT CAN'T BE REMOVED AND EXPOSE HOT STABS.

    A MAIN BREAKER is fed by wires, and therefore it is a back-fed breaker, and is ALWAYS fastened down.

    A subpanel can be any of 3 configurations.
    1. A panel with a standard main breaker in the usual main breaker position, to which the incoming hot wires are connected. The MAIN BREAKER in such a panel is always fastened down BY DESIGN.
    2. A MAIN LUG panel where the incoming leads are connected to large terminals that are connected to the bus bars of the panel. There is no breaker to disconnect the power from the bus bars at that panel and the conductors coming to that panel are protected by a standard breaker (not back-fed) at the panel where the conductors receive power.
    3. A MAIN LUG panel where the power coming TO the panel is connected to a circuit breaker in that panel that supplies power to the bus bars of that panel. THAT CIRCUIT BREAKER IS A BACK-FED BREAKER and must be fastened in place to prevent it from being inadvertantly removed which could expose someone to the hot stabs of the breaker.

    A BACK-FED breaker is sometimes installed in a panel, interlocked with the main breaker, for connecting an emergency generator. When such a breaker is used, that breaker must be fastened in place. Square-D sells a special kit that is used in that application.
  13. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    [​IMG] Does this help? Is that subpanel backfed or main lug?

    Jason
  14. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Why does the main have four breakers?
  15. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    That is a Main Lug panel. I can see the ends of the feed conductors poking out through the main lugs at the top of the picture.

    The breaker that is half-out near your fingers is the one that is feeding another subpanel or other load. It is NOT a backfed breaker and doesn't need to be fastened in place.
    [​IMG]
  16. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,718
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Now all you've got to do is convince your inspector of that :D.
  17. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    996
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    That is NOT four breakers. It's two 2-pole 100A breakers mounted in parallel creating a 2-pole 200A main breaker.
    Very common thing to see in some panels. Siemens did this for years. Still does I believe.
  18. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689

    Tell him that the panel is NOT back fed.

    Understand the next part and you will be able to discuss it with him.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    There are two ways to feed a panel.

    1. From the main lugs, like both of your sub panels.

    2. From a circuit breaker plugged into the bus. It is referred to as "back fed" because the circuit breaker is being used "backwards".


    Typically the breaker gets power FROM the bus and sends it TO the branch circuit. In a back fed situation the power comes FROM the wires, thru the breaker and into the bus, making it a main breaker for that panel.

    Main breakers have to be attached via screw to the panel so they can't just pull out like a regular breaker.
  19. shawnharper

    shawnharper New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Ah ha!!!!!!

    THANK YOU gentlemen. It's clear to me now, what backfed is. Neither of my 2 main panels are backfed, and I think I understand well enough to convince the inspector now - I'll print this out just in case.

    Thanks!!! I'll let you know how it goes...

    -Shawn
  20. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Well, technically it is four breakers....two single poles make a double pole and two in parallel would be four. 2*2=4. I under that it's treated like a double pole though. I thought that paralleling circuit breakers in this manner would be bad, but I guess if it comes from the factory like that it must be ok.

    Thanks,
    Jason
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