The General Electric Magne-Blast product line was produced with a wide array of shapes, sizes, and ratings. Finding interchangeable breakers can be simplified once you break the line down to a few simple rules.
How to Determine if a GE Magne-Blast Breaker is Interchangeable
Single Coupler vs. Double Coupler
The secondary coupler or secondary disconnect is a device/plug that carries the power that controls the breakers opening and closing circuits. The original breakers are equipped to 2 round, 7 pin couplers that mount on each side of the mechanism. The newer breakers have a single square coupler with 16 pins that mounts on the left-hand side (as you face the breaker). These two breakers are not interchangeable.
Solenoid vs. Stored Energy
Older breakers are equipped with a large closing solenoid that closes the breaker, this mechanism type typically have a “MS” designation, like MS-5, MS-7, MS-10B1, or the most common (and unfortunate) designation MS-13. Newer breakers are equipped with a spring charged/stored energy mechanism, most commonly, the ML-13. This mechanism uses a motor/gearbox to compress springs that are released to close the breaker.
The primary advantage of the stored energy mechanism is that it draws a much less current to close the breaker. These breakers have a limited interchangeability. More modern ML-13 breakers can sometimes be used to replace old MS style breakers. When produced at the factory, these replacement breakers will have a “C” at the end of the model number (e.g. AM 4.16-250-6C). Minor changes will also need to be made in the cell wiring when using this replacement because of the decreased power that it takes to close the breaker.
Frame Size/Voltage/MVA Rating
The next thing to look for is the MVA rating of the breaker. This is designated in the model number after the voltage rating e.g. AM 4.16-250-6C, is a 250 MVA rated breaker.
The smallest of the product line is the 18-inch wide 50/75 MVA breakers. Designated as either AM 5-MVA or AM 4.16-MVA, these breakers all had one of various vintage MS style solenoid mechanisms. They are available in 600-amp and 1,200-amp frames and are backwards compatible. For example, an AM 4.16-75 1,200-amp breaker can be used in place of an AM-5-50, but not the other way around.
The next step up are the 100/150/250/350 MVA breakers. These are built on slightly wider, 26-inch frames and are very common in commercial and industrial facilities. They have the same limited backwards compatibility of ML-13 to MS-13 mechanisms outlined above and all but the 350 MVA have a backwards compatibility of MVA, as well. In other words, a 250 MVA can always be used in place of a 150 MVA but not the other way around. The 350 MVA’s are built on a taller frame and are unique.
The larger 36-inch-wide breakers cover both the 7.2 kv and 13.8 kv range which are not interchangeable with each other, but generally carry the same interchangeability of their smaller 5kv brethren. The exception comes in the 750 MVA frames. The original 750 MVA (e.g. AM 13.8-750-2) is on a much taller frame than the 500 MVA or below breakers and is commonly known as a “tall boy.” Its added height is unique. However, GE did make a replacement later in production that is designated with an “L” at the end of the nameplate, AM 13.8-7505HL, which indicates a shorter lower profile breaker that was factory modified to fit into the ‘tall boy” cell.
The final breaker, the AM 13.8- 1000 is unique and not interchangeable with the others. There are two basic versions the AM 13.8 100-3H and 4H. The “3H” is commonly called the humpback breaker because the box barriers and arc chutes are taller in the back. The “4H” has smaller arc chutes and is interchangeable with the “3H”, but again, not the other way around.
Always make sure that breakers are replaced with replacements of the same frame size or extensive damage could result.
Need Help Finding Interchangeable Breakers?
Trying to find a way to extend the life and reliability of your GE Magne-Blast switchgear instead of looking for a replacement? Learn more about how NPE’s bottle repotting program can be just what you need. If you need help identifying Magne-Blast circuit breaker designations, read this post to find out where to look.