Archive for May, 2010

Expensive Small Replacement Circuit Breakers

May 28th, 2010 Comments off

How is it possible that a very small replacement circuit breaker, weighing only 2 pounds, would cost over $500 when a large replacement power circuit breaker weighing 200 pounds might be less than $1000?  MIDWEST frequently gets questions similar to this one.  The basic answer is economic supply and demand, the most fundamental law of a market driven economy.  A crude paraphrase would be “If the supply of a product goes down and the demand for the same product goes up, the cost of the product will increase.”  There are more people chasing fewer available goods, or circuit breakers.   In the world of supplying replacement circuit breakers, there are some small breakers that are no longer manufactured and are very rare, very difficult to find in the secondary market of used, reconditioned, and obsolete replacement circuit breakers.  For example, there are small molded case circuit breakers that you can hold between two fingers, but they cost over $500.  These breakers are no longer made. They are fairly common in some manufacturing facilities, but they are just not available. There are very few of them for sale and they are becoming scarce.  This is classic low supply and high demand.  On the other hand, there are large circuit breakers that are so common that they are not worth much more than scrap value.  A zillion of them were made.  Although they are no longer manufactured, they are a “dime a dozen,” so to speak. The supply is so large that it far exceeds the demand.  


The high cost of rare replacement breakers is supported by the fact that they are still far less expensive than replacing an entire power panel.  The high cost may seem unreasonable to someone purchasing an item for the first time. However, human nature would tend to look at the cost of a rare item as being too high, but not think of the cost of an abundant item as being too low.  

Obsolete Circuit Breaker – When maintenance does more harm than good

May 21st, 2010 Comments off

Frequently MIDWEST maintains and tests old and obsolete circuit breakers on the customer’s site.  And frequently the customer has their electricians or outside electricians remove the breakers from service and bring them to our breaker testing setup site. We are strong advocates of maintaining old and even obsolete circuit breakers.  In addition to routine or textbook procedures, we have additional special maintenance services on older equipment.  This is especially true when outdated breakers have obsolete overcurrent devices. We know how to repair many of the common deficiencies that we find in old breakers.  But there is one common defect that suggests one may do more harm than good by removing breakers to test and maintain them. This occurs when insulating components, such as the old plastic or Bakelite supports for control disconnect fingers, are broken by the manhandling required to get the breakers out of their enclosure, to the test station, and back.  We instruct the electricians on the cautions necessary, but it can be a challenge if you’re hauling a 150 pound breaker down a staircase.  And many times these vulnerable components are installed on the breakers at “just the wrong place,” like on the bottom of the breaker where you don’t even see them, unless you know they are there.  MIDWEST is extremely careful and we know what can happen, so we are better equipment to prevent problems. But there are some obsolete breakers located in such miserable areas, that one could nearly guarantee more damage is going to be done by the customer’s riggers or electricians moving the breakers than the typical deficiencies we find from the routine testing and maintenance services. It may be better to maintain the breakers in their substations and not haul them to a separate test site.  This problem usually occurs when old or obsolete breakers are high current tested and the test equipped can not be located near the switchboard.

Air Breaker – Real Life Stories

May 14th, 2010 Comments off
DS420 Westinghouse Low Voltage Circuit Breaker

DS420 Westinghouse Low Voltage Circuit Breaker For Sale

To enclose or not to enclose? That is the question. Shakespeare phrased it exactly right, (to be or not to be) but the bard was not referring to switchgear of course. Enclose, according to Webster’s, means “to close in”. An “enclosure” in switchgear idiom is a type of electrical device surrounded “closed in” with sheet metal which serves to protect the device from environmental factors and to protect people and other creatures of the night from exposure to hot conductors.


 But what about enclosing the enclosure?


A large manufacturer we have worked with over many years, has a secondary breaker lineup located in a mezzanine section of their plant. Some amount of oil and dirt from the manufacturing process gets out into the plant atmosphere. These particles get scattered to the 4 winds of the plant settling in particular concentrations in various regions of the plant. The plant’s mezzanine section was one such region. For many years the switchgear located in the mezzanine remained open and exposed to contaminants in the air of the plant. Additional time and expense were required at annual shutdowns to clean and maintain the switchgear properly. The LVACB’s (low voltage air circuit breakers) in the lineup were literally covered with a film of oil from the environment. This oil and dirt accumulates in insulation components and raises the specter of bad things happening. Even the best maintenance program in the world cannot make up for certain burdens placed on equipment. Then someone in the plant got smart. A room was built around the switchgear completely closing it off from the plant atmosphere. One needn’t convince plant maintenance people of the value of these types of prudent cost saving measures. They see it first hand. The people upstairs who control plant funds often present a greater challenge.

Top Ten Reasons to Buy Used Circuit Breakers

May 8th, 2010 Comments off

10.       If you haven’t discovered the great value of used circuit breakers you really should.


9.         The Karma given off from a used circuit breaker purchase pays rich dividends. You’ll have to experience it.


8.         Think of the future. Used breakers are of course green. The carbon credits you accumulate in this life do transfer to the next.


7.         Buying used circuit breakers saves time getting to work. Think of the time you’ll save walking from your car to your building with your new employee of the month parking spot. 


6.         Buying used breakers puts you in good stead with your significant other. No longer will you spend wakeful nights thinking about ways you can save your company money.


5.         Our used circuit breakers meet national testing standards.


4.         Our used circuit breakers are readily available. Manufacturers do not keep inventories of used breakers. Your breaker will be in your hands just as fast as preparation time allows. 


3.         Our used circuit breakers are fast and easy to purchase. Check out our web site at to see how easy it is.


2.         Only used circuit breakers can fit right in as a replacement for out of production panel board or cubicle configurations.


1.         And the number one reason to buy used circuit breakers is it saves money, up to 70% off the cost of new.