Nameplates...they are only part of the answer and sometimes misleading.
When confronting an issue with switchgear and circuit breakers, most people think that supplying nameplate information, for instance, the model and serial numbers, that it will be sufficient enough to get an accurate quote and spec on a replacement breaker or part. Often, this is not the case. Here is why:
- Model numbers are often general designations for the product line and they do not detail things like manual versus electric mechanisms, continuous current or trip sizes and function. For example, these K-1600 nameplates provide the same basic information but the breakers they are associated with are not interchangeable, one is manually operated and the other electrically operated and neither addresses the fact that the trip units have been changed to an aftermarket AC Pro unit.
- Serial numbers are rarely traceable by anyone other than the OEM, many of which have gone out of business. At best, it will take days or even weeks to trace and won't include modifications made in the field since it was manufactured.
- Some breakers have more than one nameplate, a good example of this are the Allis Chalmers horizontal drawout air circuit breakers, (e.g. MA-250/FC-500). If the breaker is in the switchgear, the nameplate on the front only provides you with the model number and frame size. The second nameplate, which is located on the side of the breaker above the right rear wheel, provides the details of the mechanism type, the control voltage and the wiring information.
Breaker Nameplate Mechanism Nameplate
- Often the details and accessories are not noted at all on nameplates. Bell alarms, undervoltage trip devices and other accessories are rarely detailed anywhere but on the wiring diagram which is often not readily available and could have changed since the original installation.
- Sometimes nameplates are simply wrong. A recent customer called and asked how it could be that a 5kV breaker could have been in service on a 15kV line for years without a single problem. We told them that it did not sound possible. Further investigation showed that an incorrect nameplate had been installed at some point in the past.
So what is the solution? Contact someone who has had years of hands-on experience and deals with these issues every day, like the team at National Power Equipment - firstname.lastname@example.org. Supply them with more information than you think is needed...model numbers, control voltages, frame sizes and photos...lots of photos with good resolution to retain clarity (1mb or larger). The front (with the door open), the back and the sides as well as photos of the nameplate and trip unit. You can also use NPE's handy mobile website, m.npeinc.com. This website was created to guide you through detailed questions and answers or allow you to enter basic info and also enables you to upload photos. The RFQ's assure you that you will get the right answer to your problem as quickly as possible with the least amount of hassle.
NPE - where our motto is "The right equipment, the right price, right now!"