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Old 04-09-2014, 12:21 PM   #1
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Default life expactancy of circuit breakers

Hello all,

We are relocating a couple of production lines which may involve reusing or replacing a good many 3 phase circuit breakers along with the panels, I would like to get opinions or which would be best. What we have now are Square D FA360, FA340, and FA140 varying amp ratings between 20 to 200 amps and been in place for about 15 to 18 years. Question is are they still good and can I reuse them or should at the time of removing/installing them replace them with new breakers.

Thanks, mrt19
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:28 PM   #2
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You won't find a blessed thing scholarly about circuit breaker life expectancies. That said, I wouldn't hesitate to reuse an FA if the environmental conditions they were installed in was decent. The I-line breakers are, in my opinion, a pretty decent breaker that I know lasts much longer than 15 years with good service. These breakers are a couple hundred bucks each. The "real" answer is to test them, but hiring that work done will cost more than a new breaker. You don't happen to have a DLRO (ductor) do you?
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:45 PM   #3
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The other consideration is the fault interrupt capacity. Not likely a problem on breakers only 15-18 years old, but on older stuff, it's often way low compared to newer versions.
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:49 PM   #4
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The FA being the cheapest (I believe) I-line breaker, I'm pretty sure they're all 10K
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Old 04-09-2014, 01:03 PM   #5
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15 years old in a clean environment doesn't concern me, but that's also no guarantee of good breaker condition. Like Shunk said, a contact resistance check is always a plus.

I would offer the customer both options--existing and new--making it clear that you cannot certify the existing equipment and it comes with no warranty. Sometimes they make the decision for you.
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Old 04-09-2014, 01:35 PM   #6
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As long as the environment was dry with limited contaminants and the breakers interrupted no hard faults your ok. 15 to 20 years is still young for a breaker in a none abusive environment. Exercise the breakers annually and the should take care of themselves.
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Old 04-09-2014, 02:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDShunk View Post
The FA being the cheapest (I believe) I-line breaker, I'm pretty sure they're all 10K
18kAIC at 480V.

So mrt19, if the panel you took them out of is at a distance where there was only 18kA available fault current, or they were part of a Series Rated system, putting them somewhere else may be an issue in that regard. For example if you are closer to the service transformer you have less wire resistance, so you might have more available fault current and if it is more than 18kA, you will not be able to use those breakers.
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Old 04-09-2014, 08:12 PM   #8
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Use 'em. Circuit breakers don't come with expiration dates.
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