How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

How do I find out the manufacturer of an electrical panel?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The older the panel, the harder it will be to figure out the manufacturer. Major manufacturers like Square D are easy to recognize, but obscure and defunct brands of a bygone era can be problematic. 

    A few manufacturers emboss their name and logo right on the door of the panel, like the long-gone Pushmatic with their bulldog, or GE, or Federal Pacific's bright red circle; but most just affix a paper sticker on the inside of the panel door with their name somewhere in the listing of installation standards, like in the photo above. It is usually as obvious as on the ITE panel shown above, but not always.

Or the manufacturer’s name may be on the latch for the panel door, like Thomas & Betts or Eaton below.

    Also,  the identification sticker may be on the inside side wall of the panel box, so the dead front has to be removed to view it and it could be partially obscured by wires in front of it. We don’t recommend removing the dead front unless you are familiar with safety procedures at an open panel.

    The color of the panel box can be another hint. For example, for many years the Cutler-Hammer panel boxes were tan.

    And the manufacturer’s name on the individual breakers will be correct for the panel manufacturer too, most of the time; but multiple brands of breakers will snap into place in some panels—although not approved by the panel manufacturer in most cases. See our article Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit? for more on this. And go to How do I determine the age of an electrical panel? for finding the panel age. 

     So sometimes it’s difficult, like in the panel shown below. The dead front was missing, there was no sticker inside the box, and the breakers were a mix of Square D, Cutler-Hammer, ITE, GE, and Challenger. Because the main breaker, the one most likely to be original, was General Switch, plus the light gray color of the box matched the brand’s usual color, that was our best guess.

    Also, see our blog post What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel? 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •  

Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRIC PANELS:

What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

When should a corroded or damaged electric panel cabinet or disconnect box be replaced? 

What is a tandem circuit breaker? 

When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

Can an electric panel be located in a closet? 

Can an electric panel be located in a bathroom? 

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong?  

What is a split bus electric panel?

How do I identify a combination AFCI (CAFCI) circuit breaker? 

What does a circuit breaker with a yellow or white test button indicate? 

What is the maximum gap allowed between the front of a recessed electric panel box and the wall surface surrounding it? 

What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box?

Why is a fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers? 

Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers? 

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)? 

What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?  

What is the difference between "grounded" and "grounding" electrical conductors? 

What does it mean when a wire is "overstripped" at a circuit breaker?

Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?  

Who is the manufacturer of those "bad" electric panels?

Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle? 

What is a double tap at a circuit breaker?

What is the right electric wire size for a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker? 

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong? 

Why do some breakers in my electric panel have a "TEST" button on them?

What is the right size electric panel for a house? 

• What do I need to know about buying a whole house surge protector? 

What is the maximum allowed height of a circuit breaker (OCPD) above the floor?

• What is the maximum height you can mount an electric panel above the floor? 

• What is the code required clearance in front of an electric panel?

What is the main bonding jumper and where do it find it in an electric panel? 

   Visit our ELECTRIC PANELS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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