The Ins and Outs of Eaton Breakers

Eaton or Cutler Hammer circuit breakers are one of the most popular choices for switching devices in the U.S. Their high quality and compatibility make them easy for circuit breaker replacement in existing frameworks.

The reconditioned Eaton CH breakers are popular for low and medium voltage applications where out-of-production Westinghouse circuit breakers are required.

Before you look at Eaton circuit breakers, let us take a quick trip back in time.

A Brief History

Molded case circuit breakers have been the most popular kind of circuit breaker for over a century. Their need arose in the early 1900s when electrical circuits started serving heavier loads. A device was needed to protect electrical circuits and perform the breaking operation.

The problem was intensified when fuses used to burn out at motor startups or at simple overshoots of the load at homes. The proposal then was to design a switching device or breaker that activates only after prolonged overload conditions. In 1923, thermal tripping mechanism was successfully used in a modified arc extinguisher.

In 1927, Westinghouse introduced its revolutionary circuit breaker to the market. The circuit breaker was designed to interrupt fault currents of 5000A at 120 V. From thereon, Westinghouse circuit breakers have been at the forefront of switches and breaker technology. Eaton acquired Westinghouse Distribution and Control Business Unit (DCBU) in 1994, forming yet another forerunner in the industry.

Molded Case Circuit Breakers

Eaton’s molded case circuit breakers also provide protection against overloads and short circuits in a variety of applications. There are several sub-categories and series in the molded-case circuit breakers by Eaton.

The Series G Global Circuit Breakers cover a vast Amp range from 15A to 2500A with voltages up to 690 VAC. They have modern compact designs for small panels, easy installation, and configuration, and meet all major circuit breaker requirements worldwide. The Series G breakers have choices among thermal magnetic, electronic and magnetic only switching.

Both Series G and Series C circuit breakers offer patented high-speed “blow-open” action and choice among the switching mechanisms. Series C breakers feature voltage ratings up to 600 VAC or 250 VDC, with current ratings up to 2500A.

Eaton Molded Case CB Popular Models

Eaton features more than just Series C and Series G MCCBs. However, the list is extensive and includes engine generator circuit breakers, naval / marine circuit breakers, direct current (DC) circuit breakers, motor circuit protection equipment and more.

Some of the most popular molded case circuit breakers by Eaton Cutler Hammer include GHB3030, GHQ1020, GFCB230 and CA3200. The GHQ1020 is a single pole, thermal magnetic, molded case breaker with ratings of 20 Amps and 277 Volts AC. It has a G-Frame with a bolt-on mounting mechanism that makes it easy to install.

The GFCB230 is a 2 pole, common trip, thermal magnetic molded case ground fault circuit breaker with ratings of 30 Amps and 240 Volts. It also features ease of installation with bolt on mounting. It is ideally used in load center applications.

Both GHB3030 and CA3200 are 3 pole circuit breakers. The CA3200 circuit breaker model offers high amperage of 200 A with 240 V. It has line terminal and load terminal for convenient connection and an interrupt current rating of 10 kA. The GHB3030 model has a low amperage of 30 Amps at 480 V. The model has non-interchangeable trip units and is suitable for reverse feed use.

Miniature Circuit Breakers

Eaton offers a large family of industrial thermal-magnetic miniature circuit breakers. Their QUICKLAG circuit breakers cover ampere range from 5 to 125A and feature single-, two- and three-pole configurations.

One popular Eaton / Cutler-Hammer miniature circuit breaker is the BR120AF. It features a thermal magnetic mechanism at 20 Amps and voltage rating of 120/240 V. The BR120AF is a single pole circuit breaker with a plug-in mounting that is extremely popular for small applications.

Identifying Eaton Circuit Breakers

If you are replacing obsolete circuit breakers, you will need to understand the specifications of the current model. For Eaton breakers, a quick inspection of the nameplate gives you the necessary data. Most nameplates include a catalog number, shop order number, style number, amperage, the number of poles, voltage class and temperature rating for the Eaton circuit breaker.

Often the catalog number is enough if you have access to online resources or catalogs. You should still reaffirm all data from nameplate particularly when you are replacing an obsolete circuit breaker.

Some of the devices are obsolete circuit breakers, but you can still find refurbished or used models for sale. They are still favored among many electricians and contractors for their quality and use. However, care must be taken in circuit breaker replacement to match ratings and compatibility for safe use.