QO breaker with an LED?

pharkusFebruary 10, 2009

A friend of mine recently purchased a house. The wiring is a disaster. I'm quite curious what I'm looking at, as seven of the original circuit breakers fit in a SquareD QO box but don't look like any QO breaker I've ever seen before. The handles are narrower and, instead of the "visi-trip indicator" near the handle, there is what appears to be an LED on the opposite end of the breaker. I have not made any attempt to trip any of these breakers so I don't know if they work or if, as I assume, the LED lights up when they do.

I haven't personally taken any photographs but here is one he sent me when he was looking for a cover for the box:

Also seen, for the first time, a breaker fail to turn on. Simply did not conduct. No power, no matter what. I've never seen that happen before.

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It is not an LED, simply a fluorescent-colored indicator. No electricity involved in the indicator color. The earliest QO breakers did not have this feature.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 6:13PM
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He is better off replacing the panel than buying a cover (which will probably be impossible to find).
That particular Square D panel and breakers were discontinued in the early 80s.
There were many problems with them being overloaded because you could load them up with twin breakers.
My entire neighborhood has them if the original electrical system is still in place.
I paid $175 for a 15 amp GFI breaker for this panel a couple of years ago.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 6:32PM
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Half of the panel was already populated with modern QO breakers, we bought a modern QO cover that fit, and I replaced the defective breaker with a QO115... Where's the problem?

I'm more worried about identifying and/or removing all the various unhooked wires and other nonsense than replacing the panel, which, aside of having a few archaic breakers (which can easily be swapped for new, readily-available ones) is fine.

bus_driver: So does the thing that looks like an LED serve the same function as the "visi-trip" thing on modern QO breakers - that being to indicate that the breaker is tripped?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 6:48PM
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Just to make sure we're all talking about the same thing here:

The ones I'm questioning are the top 4 on the left and the top 3 on the right, in the included picture. All of the rest of the breakers are modern QOs.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 6:56PM
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If you wish to really see that indicator- VisiTrip- take a QO breaker in your hand (completely out of the panel, no wire attached), move the handle to "ON" and then smack the edge of the breaker with the wire terminal sharply on the heel of your hand. The breaker will trip and the indicator will appear.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 8:24PM
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I see exactly what you are talking about, and it is NOT the Visi-trip indicator.
I have never seen anything like that. The only thing I can think of is a surge protected breaker.
What does that yellow label say?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 8:37PM
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bus_driver; I know that trick. Actually it works on ALMOST all breakers. I also know what the normal, MODERN "visi-trip" indicator is. It is located just "under" the handle. I'm wondering about the little round thing, on the OTHER END of the breaker, that looks like an LED. I want to know what it does, and am seriously considering personally buying him a new breaker just so I can experiment with one of the old ones.

SIMPLIFIED --- I'm not asking any questions about modern QO breakers, VisiTrip, or anything else current. I'm asking about only one thing: the object that looks like an LED, which is on the load-terminal-end of the old breakers I found in a QO panel.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 1:14AM
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petey_racer, as soon as I can get to town again, I'll bring my camera along with me and try to get a good close-up pic... failing that I'll write down everything I can read off the labels.

Truth be told, I didn't think much about it while I was there - I just kind of spaced right over the fact that there were LED-looking things in his circuit breakers. It didn't click as "wow that's weird" until I got home.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 1:16AM
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About 15 - 20 years ago a company came out with these CB's to fit into QO Load Centers. As I recall, Square D sued the company and these CB's quickly disappeared from the market. Bottom line is these are not Square D CB's.

I would replace with genuine Square D QO's if I were your friend.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 9:46PM
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Cutler-Hammer has made breakers specifically to fit SquareD QO panels. The CH breakers did not have the Visi-Trip indicator, but neither did the earliest version of the SqD breakers. The CH breakers were/are UL listed for specific SqD panels. Cutler-Hammer is a quality maker of electrical equipment and some electricians consider CH to be the better of the two, especially since the French Groupe Schneider acquired SqD.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 7:18AM
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Well, I made it back to the house to take some pictures today, and even managed to trip a breaker to see if the "LED" lit up. Click on a pic to make it larger.

I'm sorry, that REALLY looks like an LED, and it lights up when the breaker trips.

Trip & Light
U.S. Patent Number
Made in Venezuela

Classified for use in panelboards where
the available short circuit current is
10 KA, 120/240 V AC or less. Do not
use in equipment connected to circuits
having an available system short
circuit current in excess of 10KA,
120/240 V AC. For catalog numbers of
compatible panelboards refer to
publication No. 111089 provided
with the circuit breaker. If additional
information is is necessary, contact the

10,000 AMPS
60/75° WIRE

AWG. : 14-12
IN. LBS: 25



120/240 VAC CU/AL

There's your markings... Googling "Trip & Light" came up with nothing relevant except an ebay listing. The patent number of course turns up, in different words, a circuit breaker with an LED. There's still a price tag on it: $6.99, from "Servistar" (which I believe was a hardware chain at one point)

So it IS an LED, and this IS a normal QO panel. I still don't know anything else about these breakers :P

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 11:10PM
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The term "UL Classified" is used to describe equipment such as breakers that are made to fit panels other than those of the manufacturer of that breaker. Breakers made by SquareD for SqD panels would be "UL Listed". "Classified" breakers are permitted only in specific panels per instructions supplied with the breaker. For example, a "Classified breaker" by Cutler Hammer for SqD panels would not necessarily be permitted for use in every SqD panel, even if the breaker fitted perfectly.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 7:27AM
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David Shapiro briefly mentions these breakers in his excellent "Your Old Wiring" book.. you've already found about as much as is there though. Basically, these breakers and Wadsworths were the only two besides Square D QOs to offer a visible trip indicator (besides the handle "maybe" being in a middle position). Don't know why; it seems like such an obvious feature.

BTW, this functionality is reasonably common in larger industrial breakers. Sometimes it's a trip light or alarm, sometimes it's fully tied into a plant monitoring network.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 12:52AM
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These CB's, sold by LCB Corp (Lighted Circuit Breaker), actually had a lamp in them that lit when the breaker tripped. Not sure if it was a LED. Their breakers fit many different types of CB panels. The last I talked to them, 10 or more years ago, their plant in Venezuela that produced the breakers had burned. They were trying to build a new one but the political climate there was not working out. The 1-800 number now goes to a different company and I have not tried the other numbers that I had to them. They had a patent pending on them. Don't know their current status but I relly liked them. I would love to find some more.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 8:35PM
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