Do you own a new home and have trouble with tripping breakers or an overheating electrical breaker box? Although your electrical equipment is relatively new, you may have a potential fire risk in your home.
Newly designed Plug-On Neutral Load Centers, designed to cut down on installation times, show excessive heat buildup in some new homes. The overheated panels are causing some breakers to trip constantly.
The brands we have seen the most issues with are Eaton CH panels and Square D QO panels (Schneider Electric). On June 16, 2022, Square D issued a recall for some of their Load Centers, even going as far as to suggest a Smoke Detector should be installed above the defective panel until repairs are made. Eaton has yet to recognize any product defects as of this writing. Even though they have made some design changes in newer load center models, we still see replacement installations weekly.
What is the issue with Plug-On Neutral Load Centers?
Loose Connections. Although designed for fast installs, Plug-On Neutral breakers do not fit tight enough onto the neutral bar of the load centers. This design has a serious flaw since all points of electrical contact must remain tight with the expansion and contraction of the heating and cooling that takes place during the use of electrical power. Loose electrical connections cause a buildup of heat which in turn causes more resistance in the circuit. Adding more resistance will cause even more electrical overheating. This cycle will eventually cause a breakdown that could lead to an electrical fire, putting your home and family at risk.
What can you do to make your home safe?
Abandon this flawed design completely. Unfortunately, almost all major Electrical Panel manufacturers have adopted the failed Plug-On Neutral concept.
Schneider Electric has instructed electrical contractors to tighten or replace the main neutral lug in their defective panels. This band-aid fix is a half-measure that does not address the real issue of a loose connection at the breaker and neutral bar. Furthermore, electrical contractors that attempt the prescribed repairs may find themselves liable for future damages if the repair fails or overheating continues.
We recommend replacing these defective Plug-On Neutral panels with a Leviton Load Center. Leviton has not followed the crowd with Plug-on designs. Instead, they choose to incorporate a snap-in design that has been used for decades without any issues.
Other Advantages of installing Leviton Load Centers
My favorite feature of the Leviton panels is the ability to change and replace breakers without messing with dangerous wires. This is because all the wiring terminations are made in the panel before the breaker is installed. The breaker snaps into its place, and you are done. Oddly, this method of installing all the cables before the breakers are snapped in has helped with faster install times, the very thing plug-on breakers were meant to do.
Were you thinking about installing an EV Charger? Because Leviton load centers have such tight connections where the breaker and busbar meet, breaker failures for Electrical Car Charger circuits are not an issue.
Leviton Loadcenters are made in the USA. Not only is that great for our local economy, but it also alleviates supply chain issues that other manufacturers are plagued by.
No one wants or expects to replace electrical equipment in a home that is only a few years old. If you are concerned that your panel may be defective and needs to be replaced, open the hinged door that reveals the breakers and place the palm of your hand against the body of the breakers. Is it too hot? Can you see soot on the front cover near the breakers? If you are concerned about the amount of heat being generated and feel your home may be at risk, please call Upstate Electrical Solutions at 864.834.9955 or contact us online at [email protected].