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What Breakers are Compatible With Challengers?

Did another circuit breaker give up from the dying challenger of the electric panel? It is common for an old load centre to damage the breakers, piece by piece. As the production of challengers stopped way back in 1994, it is improbable for a new replacement breaker to come the way.

Now, you might be comfortable with the panelboard electric circuit design and cannot go without it. This is where you need to consider the breakers that are compatible with the challengers. In this guide, we have tried to explain all you need to know about compatibility between breakers and challengers.

Which Breaker is Compatible With Challenger Type A?

A worthy replacement for the breaker being compatible with the Challenger Type A might be more difficult than you would imagine. This is mainly due to two reasons- firstly, they are practically non-interchangeable, and only a handful of breaker manufacturers are UL-classified and UL-listed for making the breakers in accordance with the panel’s model. Thankfully, a few renowned brands still work and fit well with this model.

The first brand to consider when looking for breaker compatibility for Challenger Type A is Connecticut Electric(CE). They make their Challenger Type A series breakers for the UL standard and are ETL-listed. So, they are legally qualified to fit the Challenger Type A load centre. These are available in double-pole or 240V breakers and single-pole or 120V breakers, both being viable for bus bars of challengers.

The next option for the breakers compatible with the Challenger Type A is the Eaton/ Cutler-Hammer series. Their Challenger Type A breakers are also UL listed, which implies that they have passed several tests and are secure for use

Some other brands also manufacture the Challenger Type A breakers, like American Switch, Crouse-Hinds, Sears, Murray, Westinghouse Type BR, and General Electric. However, they are not as viable as the two former mentioned brands.

Why Should I Change a Challenger With a Breaker?

The older circuit breakers manufacturers like Pushmatic, Challenger, Wadsworth, Federal Pacific, and Sylvania/ Zinsco are now out of business and have successfully been replaced by newer companies of panelboard manufacturing. The new companies are technologically advanced, but the circuit breakers have a long history of failing.

The failing circuit breakers were sidelined by the bus bars, which are long-lasting, reliable, and durable, but manufacturers continued making the panelboard, and the buyers kept buying and using it. So, to ensure your house is safe and not a fire hazard, you should regularly change the circuit breaker and check for all other faults in the electric system.

What are the Consequences of Using a Mismatched Breaker?

It is not illegal to use a breaker that is not similar to the panel board, does not mean that it is a perfect option to go for. Even the same company circuit breakers are very different from each other, so the professionals suggest sticking to the one compatible completely with the panel board.

Using a circuit breaker that is not similar to the Challenger Type will nullify the warranty of the electric circuit, the UL listing, or even melt the whole house’s electric wiring down. You will not immediately notice that something is up with the breaker, so the heat can build up, which can damage the electric wiring.

We have listed some of the main issues that you can face if you buy a mismatched breaker:

  • Purchasing a mismatched breaker other than the physical damage outcomes is expensive and painful.
  • Without professional guidance or thorough research, if you buy a breaker, it can be futile, and you might end up losing 10 or 20 dollars as it cannot be inserted due to the contact tension difference.
  • The mismatched breakers might be UL-listed, but you cannot avail of the warranty. Therefore, the best option is going for the matched circuit breaker for the challenger.

Why Should I Change My Original Circuit Breaker?

Your original circuit breakers might be a part of an outlawed load centre, so changing the whole panel with the circuit breakers becomes necessary. But if you are just thinking of changing the circuit breakers, you also need to look for all signs of wear and tear or burning of the whole electric system.

We have elaborated on some of the things as to why you need to change the original circuit breakers.

  • Houses built during the 1980s and 1990s have the Challenger Type A service panel, and many contractors used different kinds of alien breakers with several names that will eventually burn your bus bars.
  • Not taking care of the breakers can be dangerous, they will not let you know that the system is overloading till the stabs are completely fried, you will be lucky if you get the breakers changing with only one or two areas affected or the whole house can catch fire.
  • If you want your electric panelboard to last longer, replace the alien breakers with classified or UL-listed breakers. It will make the whole electric system of the house durable.

Final Word

Two brands that are worthy to be considered for their Challenger Type A circuit breakers are Connecticut Electric and Cutler-Hammer. They are the most trustworthy in the industry but you need to see that the local electrician and electric code approve of them. Or else there can be an increased risk of overloading and fire hazard.

We have discussed all you need to know about breakers that are compatible with Challenger Type A. If you still have doubts or questions, write to us in the comments section below.

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