GFCI Brand Mixing

bradthebold

Active member
Apr 20, 2020
29
Spokane, WA
I am going to install a new variable speed pump (probably an intelliflo). They want you to use their breaker that is $45 more than the Siemens equivalent that I haven't been able to tell if there's even a difference. My bigger question though, is I have a GE box in the equipment room currently. It looks like the Siemens type breaker will probably fit, but isn't to code, and I don't want to burn the room down if there's an issue. Is my only option to install another subpanel for just that Siemens type breaker for the pump?
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,812
Does the subpanel box list the type of breakers that will fit? There should be a label on the door that says which breakers will fit. Or, the box model number should have an associated manual that gives the relevant information.

If it will accept the breaker, why wouldn't it be to code?
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
3,784
NY
They want you to use their breaker that is $45 more than the Siemens equivalent
Of course they do. It’s a Siemens breaker that also says Pentair. Pentair did nothing but change the sticker. The milliamperes for the GFCI trip needs to be slightly higher for certain VS pumps. As long as the #s match it’s the same. As long as it fits in the panel you are good to go AFAIK .
 
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bradthebold

Active member
Apr 20, 2020
29
Spokane, WA
Does the subpanel box list the type of breakers that will fit? There should be a label on the door that says which breakers will fit. Or, the box model number should have an associated manual that gives the relevant information.

If it will accept the breaker, why wouldn't it be to code?
I'll check again, but searching, it looks like GE only says they use GE breakers. And it looks like Siemens says their breakers are not rated for other boxes.
 

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
1,061
Corona de Tucson, AZ
Technically you are violating code if you mix breakers in a box that isn't approved for it. But of course, the electrician left a Siemens breaker in my Square-D Homeline rated Intermatic pool panel for the lights.(now isn't THAT confusing?). And it fit and worked fine for almost a year. When I added the SWCG I replaced it since I was in there for $4. The GE's and Siemens are copies of the Square-D Homeline for all practical purposes. But if there is ever an insurance claim? Probably not worth it for $3-$10 difference among the different brands (maybe $20 on a GFCI..maybe). I am going to say, in reality probably not dangerous, but you don't want to do it intentionally....
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,812
Here is a reference that says the following:

Code Acceptance

Financially, it makes sense for manufacturers to specify their own breakers for use in their panel boards and not list competitors’ products; even though they too are suitable for use. This is why a third party organization (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) is responsible for listing suitable replacements for the manufacturer’s specified circuit breakers. Our classified circuit breakers meet all code acceptance regulations governed by the National Electric Code® and Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

Original Panelboard Warranty

Original panelboard manufacturers may claim that the use of breakers other than those specified voids their warranty. However, the Magnusson-Moss Warranty- Act prevents manufacturers from making warranties contingent upon the use of their replacement parts, as long as the third-party part is safe. Since the safety has been proven by UL, the panelboard manufacturer’s warranty is still effective when you choose a CL or CHQ breaker.

 
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Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
1,061
Corona de Tucson, AZ
I'd be okay with following the UL's list. In the case of Eaton, they, as a manufacturer, list that their breakers are compatible with other brands. I am okay as well with that. You are covered by at least one reputable manufacturer's entity/statement that way. In an outside panel for a pool, the odds of a fire in a metal box starting a house on fire are fairly minimal anyway.

But what I am saying is that when I am at Home Depot and I can buy the Square-D Homeline breaker for $4.27, but the Eaton is $3.97... I get the matching one for my Square-D panel ! I'm cheap.. but not that cheap.....

As far as "Spa panels go", I always go for the cheapest ones... You certainly can upstream a different brand box with no safety issues at all.... An Eaton or GE box works just fine behind the Square-D panel.. I have one of each actually.. GE on the spa and Eaton on my electric brewing equipment. The Siemens breakers are such a good copy of the Homelines that you really need to look to even tell.
 

bradthebold

Active member
Apr 20, 2020
29
Spokane, WA
Yeah, so I'll probably try the Siemens breaker first at least and switch to the Pentair if necessary. Either I just put the Siemens breaker in the GE box or add another subpanel out there just for that breaker.

Eaton looks like they are the most compatible with other brands. Siemens and GE with regard to UL ratings, not so much.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,812
Do you have a picture of the label from the GE box or the model number of the box so we can look up the installation manual.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,812
The Pentair circuit breaker is a Siemens QPF style breaker. I think that the Siemens is similar to the GE THQL, which is listed as a suitable breaker.

The Pentair/Siemens breaker has a 5 milliamp trip (Provides Class A GFCI protection) for personnel protection (6 milliamp maximum) and shielding to prevent false tripping due to RF interference.

I suspect that it will probably fit and work, but you should check with GE or Siemens to verify that the breaker is suitable for installation in the panel.

https://digitalcontentcenter.compas.siemens-info.com/documents/20181/3012306/SIE_SS_GFCI.pdf

20 Amp Double Pole Type QPF2 GFCI Circuit Breaker. Available at Home Depot.

The GE THQL2120GFTP might be a suitable breaker for your application. I don’t know if it is shielded to reduce false tripping. Available at Home Depot.

You will probably be told that Siemens breakers are not UL approved for use in a GE load center.

However, according to my earlier reference, that’s probably not true. Or, the panel manufacturer specifically avoided having UL test the panel with breakers from other makers.

The below reference from the UL requires the manufacturer to provide a compatibility list. You can request that from GE or Siemens or Pentair.

99. Compatibility List - The referenced publication is a compatibility list which tabulates the company name, catalog number, number of poles and electrical ratings of the Classified circuit breaker, in addition to the company name and catalog number of the applicable UL Listed panelboards, and corresponding UL Listed circuit breakers in place of which the Classified circuit breaker has been investigated.

The compatibility list also details the maximum permissible voltage and maximum available short circuit current of the supply system to the panelboard. The Classified circuit breaker is not suitable for the specified application if the system supply characteristics exceed the maximum values indicated in the compatibility list. One copy of the compatibility list is provided with each circuit breaker.

https://code-authorities.ul.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/CircuitBreaker_MG.pdf
 
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jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
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In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
2,634
Morris Cnty NJ
Just compare the mating surface of both breakers. Most of the BRtypes interchange with any other blade type bus bar. The older boxes sometime had a shorter depth blade amd needed a wider surface contact area on the breaker. It's like how 2 identical homeline panels can allow spacesaver tandem breakers in one but mot on the other, they actually have differences even though they look identical. I'm a Hayward guy and use aquaplus bundles alot. They clearly mark several types allowed in the book amd on the door back. I've never had an inspector question me once on whether my breakers were approved for that panel. And I think it was mentioned the pentair breaker is re stickered it has a wider rating than the usual 5ma
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,812
And I think it was mentioned the pentair breaker is re stickered it has a wider rating than the usual 5ma
A "Class A" breaker has to follow the "Class A" rules, which specify the trip limits. 6 milliamps is the limit for a class A rated breaker. I think that the trip resistance comes from the RF shielding, but I'm not sure.
 

laprjns

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 14, 2012
434
Ellington, CT
After running VS pump last season without a GFCI breaker I finally got around to installing one this season. Given that I have a GE load center panel I installed a GE THQL2120GF double pole ground fault breaker ($93) which is listed on the panels label. It didn't work, GFI trips immediately when breaker is switched on. In researching this I found the following, in no particular order.
1) This is apparently a common problem with the noise from the high frequency inverter and or rectifier of the VFD causing the GFCI protection to trip. In some cases it may just be intermittent but my case it was immediately. Never was able to run the motor.
2) Siemens QPF2 GFCI are designed to be immune to this noise.
3) Pentair has their own GFCI breaker which they have listed for their load center panels. This breaker is just a re-branded Siemens QPF2 GFCI.
4) Listed breakers - All loaded center panels have listed on their labels breakers that are approved for use in the panel. In order to be listed, they must be approved by UL. To get UL approval, the manufacture of the panel needs to pay UL for design assessment and/or test of the breaker for use in the panel. No manufacture is going to pay for the approval of another manufactures breaker in their panel.
5) Classified breakers. Some manufactures (Eaton) have replacement breakers that have been tested and approved in other manufactures panels. Eaton has a cross reference of their Classified replacement breakers to other manufactures breakers.
6) It's my understanding that the use of classified breakers (note that the classified breaker list the various panels that it is approved for in the supplied documentation) does meet the code requirements, although some building inspectors may balk at it. Some manufactures (Square D) are resisting the use of Classified breaker in their panels for obvious reasons.
For my GE panel, there appears to be no classified double pole GFCI breaker available. The Siemens QPF breakers do fit in my panel and from what I found on the internet and told by an electrician, will work without problems. However it neither listed nor classified for use in my panel. So my choice is to be non code compliant by either using normal breaker (non GFCI protected) or use the Siemens QFP breaker. I'm going with the Siemens breaker.
 
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bradthebold

Active member
Apr 20, 2020
29
Spokane, WA
After running VS pump last season without a GFCI breaker I finally got around to installing one this season...
This is pretty much exactly the summary of the info I have found. I doubt there would be any issues, but pictures of melted boxes being blamed on non-UL rated breakers is concerning. Amazon has a Siemens box for $24 (though you have to add a ground bar), so it's pretty low cost and effort to be up to code at least.
 
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JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
19,812
The referenced publication is a compatibility list which tabulates the company name, catalog number, number of poles and electrical ratings of the Classified circuit breaker, in addition to the company name and catalog number of the applicable UL Listed panelboards, and corresponding UL Listed circuit breakers in place of which the Classified circuit breaker has been investigated. The compatibility list also details the maximum permissible voltage and maximum available short circuit current of the supply system to the panelboard. The Classified circuit breaker is not suitable for the specified application if the system supply characteristics exceed the maximum values indicated in the compatibility list. One copy of the compatibility list is provided with each circuit breaker.

Check to see if a compatibility list is provided with the circuit breaker.

If the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) circuit breakers specified on the panelboard cannot be found, it is not acceptable to just install any circuit breaker that fits.

The only exception is for UL classified molded-case circuit breakers rated 15 to 60 A, 120/240 V ac, that have been investigated and found suitable for use in place of other listed circuit breakers in specific listed panelboards.

 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
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In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
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Morris Cnty NJ
I've mixed gfci breakers in panels for years. On a repair nobody wants to wait for a delivery of specific breaker. Once in a while you need a specific for homeline or snap on types but I've never had an inspector question the breaker type or look at the label ratings. Double pole gfci were hard to come by until last few years in big box stores.
And james you are right on, it is the shielding on the Pentair/Siemens breaker from what I know if it