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Old 02-15-2014, 11:06 PM   #51
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A circuit breaker is NOT designed to be a switch. Over time it will fail because the contacts will build up carbon from arching which will happen when it is turned on and off many times. This will cause carbon buildup and will cause high resistance and trip and fail.
My statement if from over 40 years in the electrical trade as well as facts from the National Electric Code.

A proper sized switch is designed to turn on off loads and withstand many thousands of uses. A circuit breaker is designed to respond to high amperage and respond to a ground quickly and trips.

Now with that said they do have very special circuit breakers that can be used as switches but they are designed for large loads 277 volts AC and above.
Never say never - here's some info from another thread:
"Most circuit breakers today are switch duty rated. The next time you are at the big box stores look at one. It will have SWD on the label or on the side of the breaker. WFCO and other converter manufactures do not make their own AC breakers. They use either Square D, Cutler Hammer, GE, Siemens, or others. This is posted to remove myths and doubts."

Also, see page 2 from Square D: http://www.schneider-electric.us/doc...kings-iaei.pdf

This discusses fluorescent light circuits; apparently related to current issues with the ballasts. So is "ballast current" better or worse than "heater current?" I don't know. That being said, I'm not too worried about turning my water heater's breaker on and off a few times a year. If I get out 10 or 15 weekends a year, that's 10 or 15 times. My wife pops my basement's breaker that often trying to run a heater and the vacuum at the same time. And the current then is obviously higher than "normal." Also, with respect to turning the breaker off, in most cases the water's probably already hot and the thermostat has probably killed the current already, so when you open it, there's an excellent chance that you're not really breaking any current.

Here's more from Square D: http://www.schneider-electric.us/sit...&redirect=true

Here's some more: http://diy.stackexchange.com/questio...off-cause-wear

And: http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...ff-switch.html

Everyone needs read up as much as they can and make their own decision.
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:18 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by goodstick View Post
Forty years of driving airplanes -- Don't use a circuit breaker for a switch!!

You drive an airplane?
I thought pilots fly airplanes, NOT drive them....
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:25 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by rockfordroo View Post
Never say never - here's some info from another thread:
"Most circuit breakers today are switch duty rated. The next time you are at the big box stores look at one. It will have SWD on the label or on the side of the breaker. WFCO and other converter manufactures do not make their own AC breakers. They use either Square D, Cutler Hammer, GE, Siemens, or others. This is posted to remove myths and doubts."

Also, see page 2 from Square D: http://www.schneider-electric.us/doc...kings-iaei.pdf

This discusses fluorescent light circuits; apparently related to current issues with the ballasts. So is "ballast current" better or worse than "heater current?" I don't know. That being said, I'm not too worried about turning my water heater's breaker on and off a few times a year. If I get out 10 or 15 weekends a year, that's 10 or 15 times. My wife pops my basement's breaker that often trying to run a heater and the vacuum at the same time. And the current then is obviously higher than "normal." Also, with respect to turning the breaker off, in most cases the water's probably already hot and the thermostat has probably killed the current already, so when you open it, there's an excellent chance that you're not really breaking any current.

Here's more from Square D: Frequently Asked Questions

Here's some more: electrical - Does turning circuit breakers off cause wear? - Home Improvement Stack Exchange

And: Breaker as On/Off switch

Everyone needs read up as much as they can and make their own decision.

Thanks.
Like I said in my statement that their are special C/Bers designed for being used as switch but they are usually NOT resistive loads like a heating element. Like you wrote for 277 volt lighting and high amperage 480 volt breakers. Not the residential 15 and 20 amp SquareD breakers in the motorhomes.
This thread is done.
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:32 PM   #54
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Forty years of driving airplanes -- Don't use a circuit breaker for a switch!!
True - all the big airplane manuals (both flight and maintenance) I have had experience with have caution notes stating a CB can be reset once if it pops inflight depending on the circuit.

In addition, the air carrier I was assigned to had the same wording in their FAA accepted and FAA approved maintenance manuals.

I would apply the same thinking to small aircraft also - whether it's in a manual or not.

A CB pops for a reason and a CB that's used as a switch will become weak overtime and could cause circuit interruptions when there is no electrical circuit problem.

Is a RV an aircraft? No of course not,but a CB is a CB regardless of what it's installed in.
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:48 PM   #55
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Most if not all circuit breakers used in your RV converters are marked sd. Sd stands for switch duty. Don't believe me go to the Breaker manufactures site and look it up. My unit uses SQ D Homeline breakers and the breaker is marked sd. Master electrician for 36 years.
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Old 02-16-2014, 02:06 PM   #56
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I was an electrician on helicopters for 4 years. Aircraft circuit breakers are a far cry from what's in your RV. I would NOT be comparing them.

It would be like comparing aircraft tires to car tires.
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Old 02-16-2014, 03:41 PM   #57
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See my post # 54 - no one is comparing Aircraft CB's to RV CB's.
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Old 02-16-2014, 07:22 PM   #58
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caution notes stating a CB can be reset once if it pops inflight depending on the circuit.
This statement has nothing to do with using a CB as a switch. It has to do with not burning up the airplane. If it pops a second time, it probably wasn't a fluke, SOMETHING's wrong. Don't close it again. This caution is a little more important at 20,000 ft than in a CG.
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Old 02-16-2014, 07:37 PM   #59
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This statement has nothing to do with using a CB as a switch. It has to do with not burning up the airplane. If it pops a second time, it probably wasn't a fluke, SOMETHING's wrong. Don't close it again. This caution is a little more important at 20,000 ft than in a CG.
My point and some others are also is that CB's are IMO not to be used a switch simply because it's more convenient than installing a switch to do a function.

I'm not an electrician,but if CB's were designed to act as switches,why are CB's installed in an electrical service box and not switches? And why are switches installed in homes/buildings to turn lights,etc on and off and not CB's?


Let's not over think this - if you're going to want to turn a device on/off occasionally and the circuit doesn't have a switch,then install one and leave the CB's alone so they can do their job if and when necessary.
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Old 02-16-2014, 07:45 PM   #60
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The controversy is crazy IMO. Circuit breakers will work as switches on an rv water heater for no more than it is used as an inside switch and so what if it goes bad after 3 or 4 years of this, they only cost about $8. No big deal. Have used individual circuit breakers as switches on my 2 overhead electric heaters in the garage for 12 years and they are still functioning as designed.
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