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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Default circuit breakers keep tripping

    I recently had a new service entry put on my house to replace an older one after I had a solar unit installed, requiring more capacity then the old service entry.

    After the installation of the service entry, the circuit breakers trip regularly for the stove when I have maybe two burners on, or one burner and the oven.

    Prior to the new service entry, I never had a problem breakers tripping on the stove.

    My electrician is saying that my old service entry was old and not functioning properly, and now the breakers are functioning normally. He also said maybe I need a new oven (mine is only 10 years old). The breaker’s actually look used to me, but the electrician says they are new (the paint is faded, looked dented, compared with same at home depot, all of which look clean, undented, with unfaded white paint).

    The specs on my oven 
10.0 kw at 120/240 volts 
7.5 kw at 120/208 volts. Its an Eaton Panel with Cutler Hammer breakers
    On my service entry, it is hooked up to a 50 amp breaker, which I understand should handle the oven with every burner on.
    The electrician does not seemed inclined to take responsibility for the work, saying it must be the stove, or something else with the internal circuits of the house. He no showed after making 4 appts with me to look the system over.
    What thoughts do folks have about
    a. whether I should cut my losses and call in a new electrician
    b. expect him to fix the system for no extra charge, hold him accountable for an incomplete job
    c. offer to pay him more money depending on whether he finds a problem with the internal circuitry of the home.
    d. live with flipping the triggered breakers several times a week?

    OK, he just (finally) came over after no showing for times over several months. He appeared quite irrate toward me, replaced the breaker, and on his way out the door stated, "o by the way, I put in a 40A breaker instead of a 50A breaker, to keep me safe".

    Not sure what he meant by that!

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by leiko49; 08-21-2011 at 10:19 PM. Reason: new information

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Columbiana, Alabama
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    738

    Default Re: circuit breakers keep tripping

    Leiko, did your electrician measure your voltage? 10Kw at 240V is 41.67A which will trip a 50A breaker over a long period of time. To pull this much power you would have to have the range really hot. A 50A breaker should not have over a 40A continuous load.

    However, if you only have 208V it will only pull 36.1A. Maybe when they put in the new service they replaced a 208V transformer with a 240V.

    Have you replaced any of the elements with hotter coils?

    Did the electrician place an ammeter on the circuit to see if it's actually pulling 50A?

    Have you looked at the label in your panel? It list the make and model numbers of acceptable breakers which may be used. Does the breaker feel hot after it trips? Can you tell what size wire (and is it copper or aluminum) is connected to the breaker? Does the range plug or receptacle get hot?

    I suspect you would do well to call in a new electrician since the first one has already stood you up four times.

    What sort of solar system did you install?

    Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    251

    Default Re: circuit breakers keep tripping

    One the nameplate of the stove (label on the back) it should say what breaker size to use. The wire running to the stove should be rated to handle that amperage minimum. The breaker should then be sized for the stove.

    The only reason to downsize a breaker is if the wire was undersized.

    I agree however, if you have 240VAC, the 40A breaker should be adequate. At this point, personally, I'm not sure I'd trust that electrician. Might be best to have a new one come out and evaluate that circuit and test the voltage and wiring.

    IF a breaker is tripping, it could be a bad breaker, but I'd be more concerned that there is a partial short somewhere.
    1925 Two-Story Stucco Beaux Arts Neoclassical

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    5

    Default Re: circuit breakers keep tripping

    Thanks for your helpful thoughts. Here are some questions (from an electrically uninformed person such as myself).

    did your electrician measure your voltage?
    I do not know

    10Kw at 240V is 41.67A which will trip a 50A breaker over a long period of time.
    I don't know what this means. Do you mean that it would be normal for the breaker to trip after the oven being on a long time, say 4 hours?

    To pull this much power you would have to have the range really hot. A 50A breaker should not have over a 40A continuous load.
    What does "a 50a breaker should not have over a 40A continuous load" mean? are you saying that if its a 40+ load from the oven, the breaker should be larger then 50A?


    However, if you only have 208V it will only pull 36.1A. Maybe when they put in the new service they replaced a 208V transformer with a 240V.
    Don't really know. how can I find out?

    Have you replaced any of the elements with hotter coils?
    No, the oven is stock 10 years old, everything works perfectly (before the new service entry)

    Did the electrician place an ammeter on the circuit to see if it's actually pulling 50A?
    He had some machine today, but he was really really angry at me (after he no showed 4 times, leaving me waiting for 4 hours for him!), so he was not communicating to me about what he was doing.

    Have you looked at the label in your panel? It list the make and model numbers of acceptable breakers which may be used.
    I just looked, they are the correct breakers for the panel.

    Does the breaker feel hot after it trips? Can you tell what size wire (and is it copper or aluminum) is connected to the breaker? Does the range plug or receptacle get hot?

    great questions. I will be checking for these things. What does it mean if the breaker and range plug or receptacle get hot?

    I suspect you would do well to call in a new electrician since the first one has already stood you up four times.
    probably my next step

    Further question. What do you think of his putting in a 40A breaker to replace the 50A breaker? this is what he did this evening when he finally came over. If the stove runes at 41+ amps, won't this ensure that the problem will only get worse?


    What sort of solar system did you install?
    I have a 6300 KW system, Kyocera panels with a Sunny Boy inverter. It cover 100% of my electrical costs. It will pay for itself after 6 years (with the local and federal rebates). The right thing to do here in Phoenix!

    Regards
    Dave
    Last edited by leiko49; 08-21-2011 at 11:10 PM.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2011
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    Default Re: circuit breakers keep tripping

    Quote Originally Posted by motoguy128 View Post
    One the nameplate of the stove (label on the back) it should say what breaker size to use. The wire running to the stove should be rated to handle that amperage minimum. The breaker should then be sized for the stove.

    The only reason to downsize a breaker is if the wire was undersized.

    I agree however, if you have 240VAC, the 40A breaker should be adequate. At this point, personally, I'm not sure I'd trust that electrician. Might be best to have a new one come out and evaluate that circuit and test the voltage and wiring.

    IF a breaker is tripping, it could be a bad breaker, but I'd be more concerned that there is a partial short somewhere.
    My main concern is a partial short. When I mentioned that to the electrician, he said I shouldn't worry about that, that my wiring is safe, though a partial short maybe tripping the breaker. He also maintained its likely the oven that is malfunctioning. Then he states he needs to keep himself safe by downsizing the breaker. This being the reason for the downsizing seems odd to me. Furthermore, based on the wire size (according to how I understand you) he either put in a oversized breaker in the beginning and now he is fixing it, or he is now putting in an undersized breaker at this point (while he was clearly irate toward me). Either way, he is not following technically correct nor professional protocols of his profession. I will likely be calling in a new electrician to review the situation
    i just checked the back to see a label, but no label, just a label on the front with the specs reported, no breaker size mentioned
    Last edited by leiko49; 08-21-2011 at 11:36 PM.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2011
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    Columbiana, Alabama
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    Default Re: circuit breakers keep tripping

    Sounds like your electrician found the wire was too small for a 50A breaker so replaced it with a 40A, which will only make it trip sooner.

    If you have a 40A breaker and 240V supply your breaker will trip within a few hours, if all the burners are on.

    No breaker or panel should be run at 100% of it's rating for extended time. 80% of the rating is usually considered max.

    You really need a new, experienced electrician complete with test equipment and willing to tell the truth. You have a dangerous condition.

    If any wire, breaker, plug or receptacle is getting hot you have an overloaded device, loose or bad connection of wire that's too small.

    Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: circuit breakers keep tripping

    Shame on this electrician.
    Don't wait, call a real electrician to assess your situation. One who communicates with you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: circuit breakers keep tripping

    Guys, I read posts as a learning tool, but I just don't understand what's going on here . . .

    He puts into a new ďservice entryĒ which I assume is a new panel. I donít understand why, even with a solar system, because I assume the supply service is still the same (my former utility required I pay for trenching if I wanted 200a instead of 100a) and he didnít pull any more circuits, so Iím scratching my head why a new panel was needed. I once replaced circuit breakers but not the panel.

    Now, if the old breakers were swapped one-for-one, then the 50a circuit should have (load capacity fixed by the existing wire gauge) received the same rated breaker. If the breaker keeps tripping, shouldnít he try replacing the breaker before considering the oven as the culprit, which at 10-years is mature but not old, to rule out the cheaper fix before the expensive fix?

    So, whatever service he had, whether 208v or 240v, it should have remained the same; you just donít mess with pulling a new configuration without telling the owner and checking that the appliances (load) can handle the voltage change.

    As I read this, I just donít get whatís going on . . .

    I am intrigued by the solar setup . . . I only know of one person with a solar setup (in Silicon Valley) and he said when his solar system is producing more power than he needs, his electric meter spins backwards because he is actually selling power to Pacific G&E, although electrically, I donít understand if this is possible (back flow). Well, he says he gets a credit in the summer months and breaks even in the winter.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    251

    Default Re: circuit breakers keep tripping

    I suspect the OP may have taken the opportunity to upgrade his service. Any home with more tan 1 bedroom in the modern world of electronics and appliances should have a 150A or 200A service. Very large homes with hot tubs, radiant floor heat and lots of lighting with multiple AC units may need a 400A service.

    If you meet certain power quality requirements, you can sell power back on the grid. I think a new laws requires that utilities purchase it. I think it may require a special meter that verifies power quality.
    1925 Two-Story Stucco Beaux Arts Neoclassical

  10. #10
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    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
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    Default Re: circuit breakers keep tripping

    Brookworld, he probably had to put in a new service because he needed a panel to backfeed to the power co. if he had a surplus, which will make the meter spin backwards.

    If he had an old 60A or 100A service but was installing a 200A the power co. may have changed his transformer and his house voltage may have gone from 208V to 240V.

    His range nameplate stated 7.5Kw at 208V (36.1A) and 10Kw at 240V (41.67A). With a 40A breaker one can expect the breaker to trip after a few hours.

    The Code defines "continuous load" as: A load where the maximum current is expected to continue for 3 hours or more. Therefore, continuous load on a 40A breaker should be no more than 80% of 40A or 32A.

    Good Luck from Columbiana, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

    The OP said he was having trouble with the "new" 50A breaker tripping so his electrician replaced it with a 40A. Which leads me to believe he saw the wire was only rated for 40A.

    Power companies change transformers and voltage settings all the time and never tell the customers. I saw where they flipped the tap setting once and wipped out appliances in 10 homes.

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