An Overview of the Different Types of Circuit Breakers

Types of Circuit Breakers in a Service Panel

When it comes to circuit breakers, there are a few different types to choose from. The type of circuit breaker you need will depend on the application. In this blog post, we’ll give you a quick overview of the different types of circuit breakers so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for your home.

electric, electrician, electrical contractors
Your service panel has many different types of circuit breakers.

Single-Pole Circuit Breaker

Single-pole circuit breakers are the most common type of breaker. They are used in 120-volt circuits and are typically used for lighting and outlets. Single-pole breakers have one hot wire and one neutral wire. They are easy to identify because they are simply a switch that is flipped on or off.

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Double-Pole Circuit Breaker

Double-pole circuit breakers are used in 240-volt circuits. They have two hot wires and one neutral wire. Double-pole breakers are typically used for appliances such as air conditioners, water heaters and dryers. They are more expensive than single-pole breakers but they offer more protection because they can handle twice the amount of power.

GFCI Circuit Breakers

GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) circuit breakers are designed to protect against electrical shocks. They work by sensing when there is a difference in the current between the hot and neutral wires. When this happens, the breaker trips and cuts off the power to prevent an electrical shock. GFCI breakers are required by code in some areas, so be sure to check with your local building department before installing one.

AFCI Breakers

AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) circuit breakers are designed to protect against fires caused by electrical arcs. Arcs can occur when there is a loose connection between wires or when a wire is damaged. AFCI breakers work by sensing when an arc is present and then breaking the circuit to prevent a fire from starting. AFCI breakers are required by code in some areas, so be sure to check with your local building department before installing one.

Standard Circuit Breaker Sizes

If your circuit breaker doesn’t trip when it should, or if it trips frequently, it might be time to replace it. But what size circuit breaker do you need? The answer depends on the amperage rating of the circuit. The amperage rating is usually stamped on the face of the circuit breaker, and will be listed in your home’s electrical panel.

The most common circuit breaker sizes are 15-30 amp, but you may have some that are as high as 40, 60 or even 80. The size of circuit breaker you need will depend on the amperage rating of the circuit. If you’re not sure what size circuit breaker you need, it’s best to consult with a professional electrician. They’ll be able to help you choose the right size circuit breaker for your home’s electrical system.

service panel and circuit breaker sizes
The amperage of the circuit breaker is written on the switch in the above image.

Brands of Electric Breakers

Most circuit breakers are designed to work with a specific type of panel. For example, a GE circuit breaker should only be used in a GE service panel, and a Square D circuit breaker should only be used in a Square D panel. This is because each brand has its own design standards and specifications. 

Using the wrong circuit breaker in a panel can create a number of problems, including circuit damage and fire hazards. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the different brands and to make sure you always use the correct circuit breaker for your panel.

NOTE: Some Eaton circuit breakers have an interchangeable model and it works with some other brands of service panels.

Common Service Panel Breakers

  • GE
  • Square D
  • Siemens
  • Cutler-Hammer
  • Westinghouse
  • Eaton

What Brand Circuit Breaker Do You Have?

Electricians who install circuit breakers need to identify the markings on circuit breakers in order to properly install them. The markings on circuit breakers tell you what type of breaker is needed for installation in that particular panel. The label will also tell you the amperage and voltage rating of the breaker. The breaker installer needs to be familiar with these ratings in order to ensure that the circuit breaker is compatible with the electrical system.

Conclusion

There are a few different types of circuit breakers to choose from depending on your needs. Single-pole circuit breakers are the most common type and they’re used in 120-volt circuits. Double-pole circuit breakers are used in 240-volt circuits and they offer more protection because they can handle twice the amount of power.

GFCI circuit breakers protect against electrical shocks while AFCI circuit breakers protect against fires caused by electrical arcs. Be sure to check with your local building department before installing either type of breaker to ensure compliance with code requirements.

If you are in Atlantic County and need to have your service panel or circuits inspected or replaced, let our electrical contractors give you a no obligation, FREE quote. 

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