Blog posts of '2018' 'November'

What Do Westinghouse Housing Codes Mean?

On some Westinghouse air breakers, a special code is stamped on the nameplates which causes some confusion when replacing and maintaining the breakers in the field. It is called the “Housing Code” and is designated with a single letter. Ironically, the housing code was originally intended to avoid the very confusion that it is causing today. So, what is a housing code—and more importantly, what do we use it for today?

Breaking Down Westinghouse Air Breaker Housing Codes

In the 1960s and early ‘70s, a housing code was the factories designation to indicate interchangeability between circuit breakers within the lineup of switchgear as it was produced from the factory. Let’s look at an example. If you have a double-ended lineup of Westinghouse type DB air breakers and it’s designed with 3,000 amp electrically operated DB 75 mains, A DB 75 tie with 2,500 amp trips, and 12 1,600 amp, DB 50 feeders and the feeder breakers have trip units rated 1,600 amp, 1,200 amp and 800 amp, you might have the following designations.

A Westinghouse DB75 air circuit breaker.

The DB 75 mains all have the same control wiring and trip units and are both mechanically and electrically interchangeable, so they would logically both have a housing code of “A” stamped on them, as would any spare breakers on hand. The DB 75 tie is unique to the lineup because of the smaller trip unit, so it would have a housing code of “B,” as would a spare breaker if it was built at the time of the purchase. The 1,600 amp frame feeders are all mechanically interchangeable but have three different-sized trip units so they are not electrically interchangeable, the 1,600 amp breakers would all have the same housing code of “C,” the 1,200 amp breakers would be “D,” and the breakers with 800 amp trip units would all be “ E.”

This system ensured that operators had an easy way to identify interchangeability when the switchgear was new. However, housing code designations effectively became obsolete over the years with modern solid state trip units. These new solid state trip systems are more effective and accurate and much more adjustable than the original series overcurrent trips supplied by the OEM. They allow breakers that are mechanically interchangeable to also be adjusted to be electrically interchangeable with other breakers in the same line up. These trip units can and must be adjusted by qualified technicians to ensure that each breaker is set to protect each load safely and effectively.

This housing code continues for breakers in the medium voltage class as well but is less complicated. For example, if there is a lineup with 2,000 amp mains and 1,200 amp feeder breakers, the 2000s would all be designated “A” and the 1200s all designate “B” because they are all mechanically and electrically interchangeable. The overcurrent trip function is controlled by current transformers and panel mount relays and are separate from the draw out elements.

A housing code for a Westinghouse air breaker.

NPE: Experts in Used and Remanufactured Air and Vacuum Circuit Breakers

Whether you need help identifying circuit breakers or finding the right switchgear parts for your facility, NPE can help. Our extensive inventory of parts and expertise has made us to-go source for solutions for switchgear and circuit breaker needs. Go to our NPE on the Go mobile site or contact us today to talk about your needs and how NPE can help.

What “Obsolete Circuit Breakers” Really Means

Websters definition
Obsolete
adjective
ob·so·lete | \ˌäb-sə-ˈlēt, ˈäb-sə-ˌlēt\
Definition of obsolete
a: No longer in use or no longer useful // an obsolete word
b: Of a kind or style no longer current, old-fashioned // an obsolete technology

NPE’s definition
As relating to switchgear and circuit breakers… A product line not supported by the original manufacturer, but still commonly in use.

Why No Switchgear Parts are Really Obsolete

Many factories, government facilities, and large commercial buildings are operating on switchgear that is no longer supported by the OEM. The lights are still on, production is running, and everything is fine, until it comes to light that new parts are no longer available. What should you do?

Switchgear is one of those systems that represent a large financial investment. It’s physically large and often located in a basement, or on a rooftop or mezzanine. This makes it difficult to physically remove it if you decide to replace it and represents a large commitment of money, labor, and more importantly downtime for the building and systems. That’s time and money that could be better spent elsewhere. The solution to this problem is to find what you need on the secondary or used equipment market.

An “obsolete” General Electric AK-2-25 circuit breaker that can be found on the secondary or used equipment market.

Where to Find Obsolete Circuit Breakers and Other Used Switchgear Parts

Used switchgear dealers are often looked at as the first responders of the electrical market. They are intimately familiar with the equipment that the OEMs have obsoleted and can supply you with quality circuit breakers and parts, reconditioned to the highest standards and often upgraded with the latest materials and technology. Best of all, equipment is available with little or no lead time keeping your facility and production up and running.

At NPE, we have a saying that “nothing is obsolete.” Not only do we have thousands of circuit breakers, switchgear, and parts in stock and available at a moment’s notice, we also offer solutions for over 250 of the most troublesome, hard-to-find parts. This gives you new aftermarket replacement parts with design and material upgrades to keep your switchgear up and running better than ever. Our inventory includes items that go back to the 1940s and our staff has the experience to provide cost effective solutions for repair, upgrade your equipment, and extend its useful lifespan almost indefinitely.

Need a solution for your switchgear problems? Submit information about what you need on our NPE on the Go mobile site or contact us today to talk about your needs and how NPE can help.