New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
URSnshn
Posts: 463
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:10 pm

New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by URSnshn »

I'm considering a new 200 amp electric panel and was quoted on a Cutler Hammer/Eaton BR Panel. But I can have a Cutler Hammer / Tan installed and it is apparently top of the line (a copper bus?) Currently I have a Challenger electric panel and am replacing due to age, future upgrades and issues I've read about the Challenger.

If you were replacing your electric panel would you choose the Cutler Hammer / Eaton or the Cutler Hammer / Tan? Or something else?

Are there any particular upgrades to the panel I might want to ask about? Ex: surge protector
bogles the mind
Posts: 70
Joined: Fri May 03, 2024 8:05 am

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by bogles the mind »

What'd you hear about Challenger? I always heard the tan is better. Definitely get a surge protector. It is code now.
Topic Author
URSnshn
Posts: 463
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:10 pm

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by URSnshn »

Bogles the mind: My take and I have no expertise in this area YMMV ... If you search for Challenger panel you'll find various opinions on them. Apparently in some states insurance companies have an issue with them and won't pay claims on them if I understand correctly. They are an older panel. Some electricians view them as unsafe. In the instance at my home, I had a town inspector tell me that in my case the panel would pass inspection, but he was very clear that he thought we should replace it. We had a second opinion from another electrician (not an inspector) and they saw nothing wrong with it. So, the jury is out. But, I am replacing it due to age, future upgrades, and the Challenger issues kind of bother me so I am going for it.
BIGal
Posts: 262
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:34 pm
Location: NW Iowa

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by BIGal »

It is all about the breakers and their availability. We have a Square D....and it has performed excellently over the last 25 years. Assume you will have an electrician install, as what they recommend.
Cobbles&Cols
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Nov 25, 2021 6:42 am

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by Cobbles&Cols »

I recently did a service upgrade and installed a 200-Amp SPAN panel. It is more expensive, but it is listed to work with all the major circuit breaker manufacturers and it provides a ton of data and control that traditional panels don't (i.e., circuit-level monitoring from your phone). These advanced features become even more interesting if you are also looking at other electrification projects like solar, EV charger, etc.
flarf
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:05 pm

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by flarf »

You can google "Eaton BR vs CH" and read many threads about this topic. BR = Bryant, CH = Cutler Hammer. Eaton acquired both companies and retains the nomenclature in their products today.

Yes, the CH series panels have a copper bus. But who cares? The utility is bringing electricity to your house on aluminum wiring. CH panels also have a lifetime warranty vs. 10 years for the BR panels.

The CH panel will cost more. While the build quality is marginally better, I can't imagine you would notice any difference between the two over the long haul.
suemarkp
Posts: 1464
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:18 pm
Location: Somewhere in WA State

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by suemarkp »

Aluminum buses can have corrosion issues, especially if the panel is outdoors or in a corrosive environment (near ocean, or a pool building with chlorine). Bare aluminum wire can't be used in the earth (it corrodes to dust), but copper wire can be, so only copper goes to buried ground rods.

My preferred panels are Eaton CH and Square D QO. Next would be Eaton BR or Square D Homeline. Not a fan of GE. Siemens is probably OK too and similar to the BR and Homeline panels.

The biggest thing I like about the Eaton CH (tan) breakers is they have a spring clip around the bus prongs. This makes them harder to push onto and pull off of the bus. I had an Eaton BR panel and when working on it with the cover off, it was very easy for the breakers to pull away from the bus. That caused issues when working on it live.
Mark | Somewhere in WA State
beachtech
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:23 am
Contact:

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by beachtech »

I had a service upgrade and had an old 100-amp Challenger panel replaced with a 200-amp Square D QO panel.

For me, in an older house, there were constraints on the physical height of the panel. Using the QO breakers, which are narrower, gave me more slots in the same height. (IIRC, I got 6 more breaker spaces, versus the other brand of panel that fit my height restriction.) Do you have any special constraints like that?

Yes to surge protector.
mjg
Posts: 260
Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2022 4:06 pm
Location: CA

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by mjg »

My GC used Eaton BR panels for my 2019 custom house build. One main panel with two sub panels, ie a lot of circuits. No issues.
Pdxnative
Posts: 1019
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 1:17 pm

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by Pdxnative »

Cobbles&Cols wrote: Tue May 07, 2024 3:23 pm I recently did a service upgrade and installed a 200-Amp SPAN panel. It is more expensive, but it is listed to work with all the major circuit breaker manufacturers and it provides a ton of data and control that traditional panels don't (i.e., circuit-level monitoring from your phone). These advanced features become even more interesting if you are also looking at other electrification projects like solar, EV charger, etc.
Did you find install cost of SPAN to be much higher, or was price difference just the hardware?
BuddyJet
Posts: 1134
Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2019 8:56 pm

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by BuddyJet »

Sort of a Ford vs Chevy question but I’m in the Square D camp for reputation and universal availability but they are a bit more expensive.

While anecdotal, I’ve had false trip problems with some Eaton BR arc fault breakers.

I also went with a good whole house surge protector for my house. While I don’t know if I’ve ever needed it, having it helped having bad power blamed for a HVAC board issue.
People say nothing is impossible. I do nothing all day.
Modest Man
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:06 am

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by Modest Man »

Square D QO is the only one I would install. :sharebeer
Saving$
Posts: 2532
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:33 pm

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by Saving$ »

I'd install a Span or something that is rated to accept smart breakers so you can replace the breakers.
User avatar
MoneyIsTime
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2024 6:11 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by MoneyIsTime »

A Square D QO panel is clearly the best in my opinion.
I'm a retired electrical engineer who's wired his own house and others (all passed code easily),
Other panels might be cheaper, but none are as good.
“You are free to do whatever you like. You need only face the consequences.” — Sheldon B. Kopp | | AA 60/40 = Stock/Bond+Cash. MFJ, Ages 60/59, Retired 6/2023, Still figuring out retirement
bradinsky
Posts: 2441
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2018 6:32 am
Location: Ohio

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by bradinsky »

MoneyIsTime wrote: Tue May 07, 2024 9:35 pm A Square D QO panel is clearly the best in my opinion.
I'm a retired electrical engineer who's wired his own house and others (all passed code easily),
Other panels might be cheaper, but none are as good.
+1 They are a good choice.
User avatar
snackdog
Posts: 3245
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:57 am
Location: PNW

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by snackdog »

Nothing wrong with GE panels. We have a bunch of them.
BH Consumer FAQ: | Car? Used Toyota, Lexus or Miata. | House? 20% down and 3x salary. | Vacation house? No. | Umbrella? $1 million. | Goods? Costco.
bikesandbeers
Posts: 443
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:08 am

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by bikesandbeers »

I've Installed both Siemens and Eaton BR panels in the the last decade. I feel like they are very comparable in quality. The Eaton BR is a solar ready mode that has a copper bus rated for 225 amps including the solar generation.

The only drawback I have had with Eaton is both BR and CH breakers seemed to be in especially short supply during the pandemic. Siemens didn't seem to have that problem.

If I was going to install something new today I would seriously consider a SPAN. I have also seen some Eaton Smart panels demonstrated at trade shows but I don't know what they do for residential users.

Square D is widely available.
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 19796
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 5:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi - white sandy beaches, N. Arizona 1 mile high.

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by Sandtrap »

BIGal wrote: Tue May 07, 2024 3:17 pm It is all about the breakers and their availability. We have a Square D....and it has performed excellently over the last 25 years. Assume you will have an electrician install, as what they recommend.
+1
this
availability of breakers and parts is crucial.
Ask your electrician what is most used in your area and state.
And also what panels have been proven over many years.
IE: Square D, Seimens, etc.
Do not get home/consumer lower level cheap units.

j🌺
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
beachtech
Posts: 94
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:23 am
Contact:

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by beachtech »

For those mentioning the SPAN panel: while I agree it’d be super cool to have per-circuit monitoring and control, I predict a longer-term reliability nightmare. In their design, each of the 32 spaces has a relay integrated into the panel. The 32 relays are not user-replaceable, either by a homeowner or even by an electrician! Even if they were replaceable, it sounds like they are physically behind the bus bars.

Relays will start dying from either cycle age or time age (corrosion, fused contacts, coil failure, etc). And you’ve got 32 of them! It may take a while since people aren’t switching these frequently, but I predict we will see people with 10-20 year old panels that have dead spaces.

Maybe I’m biased because I’ve seen a bunch of home appliance relay failures. Two in the past two years (boiler, failed open; dehumidifier, failed closed). But that’s why the relays should be socketed and replaceable.

(And that’s before their $200M+ of VC funding catches up and they have to start charging $10/month to use your electrical panel.)
Beefmaster
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2023 5:59 pm

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by Beefmaster »

I don't think it really matters what modern panel you install. Modern electrical codes and liability fears have made them all good.

I bet 99% of homeowners have no idea what brand panel they have. I would also bet that 99% of homeowners have never had a panel related failure.
Cobbles&Cols
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Nov 25, 2021 6:42 am

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by Cobbles&Cols »

Pdxnative wrote: Tue May 07, 2024 5:25 pm
Cobbles&Cols wrote: Tue May 07, 2024 3:23 pm I recently did a service upgrade and installed a 200-Amp SPAN panel. It is more expensive, but it is listed to work with all the major circuit breaker manufacturers and it provides a ton of data and control that traditional panels don't (i.e., circuit-level monitoring from your phone). These advanced features become even more interesting if you are also looking at other electrification projects like solar, EV charger, etc.
Did you find install cost of SPAN to be much higher, or was price difference just the hardware?
I had my electrician quote both. The difference was pretty much the MSRP of the SPAN panel.
guitarguy
Posts: 2227
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by guitarguy »

Square D.

Have had Square D panels in multiple homes and have installed multiple Square D sub panels.

They make excellent stuff, breakers are readily available.
lazydavid
Posts: 5351
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2016 1:37 pm

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by lazydavid »

beachtech wrote: Wed May 08, 2024 8:41 am Relays will start dying from either cycle age or time age (corrosion, fused contacts, coil failure, etc). And you’ve got 32 of them! It may take a while since people aren’t switching these frequently, but I predict we will see people with 10-20 year old panels that have dead spaces.
They certainly shouldn't fail due to cycle age, as they'll only fire when running on battery AND that circuit needs to be shed--"not needed" will shed automatically, and "nice to have" will shed when the load is too high or battery gets to 50%. So we're probably talking a few cycles per year in most installations. Excluding the "my kid didn't do their chores again so I cut the power to their room" use case, of course. :P

Given the "standard" use case, I would think that they'd be far more likely to fail in the "normal" closed state if/when they fail. So then that one circuit would no longer be able to shed. Swap that breaker with the nearest "must have" circuit and you're back in business for however many years until the next failure.
bombcar
Posts: 1032
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2007 6:41 pm

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by bombcar »

I went with a Leviton load center, mainly so I could use their smart breakers if I wanted to.

https://leviton.com/products/residential/load-centers
Topic Author
URSnshn
Posts: 463
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:10 pm

Re: New Electric Panel? What Manufacturer for a 200 amp panel.

Post by URSnshn »

I appreciate everyone's responses. You've given me a bit more perspective and some worthwhile things to think about.
Post Reply