Favorite residential 200 amp main panel and why

JoeNorm

Senior Member
Location
WA
Obviously this has a lot to do with personal preference and local availability but curious peoples thoughts here. Factors of interest would be quality(breakers included) and ease of use based on space and layout of busbars. Price is no object.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
For me,price is probably foremost. Sometimes, the contractor packages match my needs.

I probably select Eaton's BR line 50% of the time. Plus, they come in 3ph when necessary.
 

falconewk

Member
Location
Pasco, WA, USA
Occupation
Owner, Residential Journeyman
Eaton BR; it's what my supplier (Platt Electric Supply) carries. Really started to love them when they condensed the AFCI and Dual Function breakers from the long frame to the regular frame (the CH line hang over- restricting the amount of room on the sides of the panel, as do some of the other manufacturers). The plug neutral in the same line is fantastic.
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
Eaton BR and sometimes CH
I've put them all in at one time or other but the Eaton is most available and I too like the plug on neutrals.
I do like how Siemens covers hang on the cabinet so you can start the screws in. Much easier if you're working alone or limited space around the panel.
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
I think it more depends on what you have available than what you wish for. Here, Siemens is stocked by the supply house. Go up the line and Square D is the soup of the day.

-Hal
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
GE.....jk, what junk. First few years almost exclusively Eaton BR, now about half Eaton BR and half SQD Homeline. Good quality and inexpensive to make my bids more reasonable.
 

James L

Senior Member
Eaton BR mainly because of a nice variety readily available at the places I shop.

Home Depot, Lowe's and Menards all carry it, and have much better prices than what I can get at a supply house. 200a 30/60 at Menards for $127 and supply house wants $198

I also get some of it online, stuff not in the stores. Tomorrow I'll order a 125a, 12-space, 3-phase mlo from Amazon for about $85 and didn't bother asking at a supply house
 

Fred B

Senior Member
Location
Upstate, NY
Occupation
Electrician
Eaton BR mainly because of a nice variety readily available at the places I shop.

Home Depot, Lowe's and Menards all carry it, and have much better prices than what I can get at a supply house. 200a 30/60 at Menards for $127 and supply house wants $198

I also get some of it online, stuff not in the stores. Tomorrow I'll order a 125a, 12-space, 3-phase mlo from Amazon for about $85 and didn't bother asking at a supply house
I wonder if the ones offered through the likes of HD, or Lowe's are somehow slightly lesser quality like they do with some of the dewalt tools that are marketed way lower than other outlets. Went to return a dewalt tool to a supplier I use regularly, forgetting I had gotten that one at lowes for a black Friday sale, when they pulled up the product SN it indicated that it was a model only available through HD or Lowe's. With that news i began looking into it and found that dewalt did mfg a line that might appear to be the same as available everywhere except it will substitute some lower quality features such as more plastic less metal or other minor downgrades to get a lower price point.
So I wonder if you were to pull up a part number from a SD panel from a "big box" if it too, is only sold through that outlet? Some of the lower prices I just can't see as only related to bulk, mass ordering afforded by the "big box", being some products that aren't or can't be different than available to any supplier, price points dont vary much. Just dont know.
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I wonder if the ones offered through the likes of HD, or Lowe's are somehow slightly lesser quality like they do with some of the dewalt tools that are marketed way lower than other outlets. Went to return a dewalt tool to a supplier I use regularly, forgetting I had gotten that one at lowes for a black Friday sale, when they pulled up the product SN it indicated that it was a model only available through HD or Lowe's. With that news i began looking into it and found that dewalt did mfg a line that might appear to be the same as available everywhere except it will substitute some lower quality features such as more plastic less metal or other minor downgrades to get a lower price point.
So I wonder if you were to pull up a part number from a SD panel from a "big box" if it too, is only sold through that outlet? Some of the lower prices I just can't see as only related to bulk, mass ordering afforded by the "big box", being some products that aren't or can't be different than available to any supplier, price points dont vary much. Just dont know.
I would guess that in some cases (like power tools for instance) manufacturers may substitutes plastic gears for metal or something like that when selling to big box stores. In the cases of breaker panels and circuit breakers I can't imagine what they would change to make them less expensive. Remember, when a supply house buys products like load centers they may buy one whole pallet of product for their stock. When a big box store buys them they buy hundreds of pallets that go to a central distribution center before going out to a specific store. In addition, the panels and breakers have to meet certain standards, in appearance, quality and safety in order to be sold to the public. I don't think any of the big breaker manufacturers would risk their reputations on inferior products. Just my opinion.
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
In 90% of the cases I like to buy materials from my local supplier. They work hard for you and try to get you the best prices on products and they deliver materials to your job site when needed. That said, there are some items that they just can't compete with in price. For example, a 250 coil of 14/2 NM cable is $41.00 at HD. My supply house sells it for $51.00. It goes on and on from there. Now, $10.00 is not going to break my bank and if I needed it in a pinch or if going to HD would cost me more time and gas to get to I would most certainly buy it from my supply house.

Another "that said" story, I generally use Sq D Homeline breakers and load centers for residential work. It's a well-designed panel, the breakers fit tightly and don't wobble in place and if I install a generator interlock kit (which is listed for the panel) it fits and operates perfectly. I used to buy them from a particular supplier until one day I purchased a compliment of breakers and a load center from them and as I was driving up the highway I thought to myself "gee, this seems like a lot of $$ for this". I then went to HD and purchased the same material for about $100.00 less. I brought the original material back to the supply house and they credited me. When I told them about the difference they claimed that what I bought at HD was counterfeit. Everyone is entitled to make a profit on their sales but this was out of the question.
 

James L

Senior Member
I wonder if the ones offered through the likes of HD, or Lowe's are somehow slightly lesser quality .....
It's definitely worth looking into. That would be a good use of some spare time 👍

I think most of the pricing difference comes from 2 factors:
1) volume. Supply houses have pricing tiers based on how much stuff a guy buys there.

2) credit account. I can't even get unto a discounted pricing tier at some supply houses because I don't have any credit accounts. I buy my materials outright. Just my preference.

Also, a lot of people don't know that Home Depot will beat any written quote by 10% and they can get anything the supply houses can. Just gotta pay upfront and wait to get it.
 

James L

Senior Member
In 90% of the cases I like to buy materials from my local supplier. They work hard for you and try to get you the best prices on products and they deliver materials to your job site when needed. That said, there are some items that they just can't compete with in price. For example, a 250 coil of 14/2 NM cable is $41.00 at HD. My supply house sells it for $51.00.
I just got a quote from a supply house for a whole house rough-in. 250 ft of 12/2 was $87.00 but at Home Depot it's $63.00

I got that quote because I really wanted a delivery, and at a specific time which HD won't do. But the whole quote was $3,000 from supply house. HD and Menards pricing was $1,700

Yeah, I picked it up myself
 

retirede

Senior Member
Location
Illinois
I just got a quote from a supply house for a whole house rough-in. 250 ft of 12/2 was $87.00 but at Home Depot it's $63.00

I got that quote because I really wanted a delivery, and at a specific time which HD won't do. But the whole quote was $3,000 from supply house. HD and Menards pricing was $1,700

Yeah, I picked it up myself
HD will also match Menards 11% rebate as long as there is a Menards within the same vicinity as the HD you make the purchase at.
It’s really easy - just go online and enter your receipt number. They send you a gift card for the rebate.
 
My quick and dirty take of the pros and cons:

Sqd QO - overpriced

Sqd homerline - quality and price good. Annoying no 3 phase option. Long afci's annoying

Siemens - like a lot, well built, solid, avail in three phase, can't really think of anything negative.

Eaton CH - overpriced. Don't really care for but I can't pinpoint why

Eaton BR - cabinet unpainted and guts just seem super flimsy and chinsy. Available in three phase however.

GE - no experience. On big possible advantage, are they the ones whose afci's don't have a ground fault component?
 
One other thing I should have added: all SQD main breakers are 22kaic rated. I think also true for CH (theirs might be 25k). Most Siemens have 22k mains (a few of their cheaper es series only have 10k). Br is more likely than the others to have only a 10k main breaker. Not sure about GE.
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
My quick and dirty take of the pros and cons:

Sqd QO - overpriced

Sqd homerline - quality and price good. Annoying no 3 phase option. Long afci's annoying

Siemens - like a lot, well built, solid, avail in three phase, can't really think of anything negative.

Eaton CH - overpriced. Don't really care for but I can't pinpoint why

Eaton BR - cabinet unpainted and guts just seem super flimsy and chinsy. Available in three phase however.

GE - no experience. On big possible advantage, are they the ones whose afci's don't have a ground fault component?
Eaton has taken the GF out of their AFCI breakers too. Not sure about CH but I know for a fact the BR doesn't have it.
 
I mostly use homerline for resi, even though Siemens seemed to get my best review in my previous post. Mostly because the local supply house has Sq D. FWIW I have had just about zero problems with AFCI "nuisance trips" in the last 3-4 years.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
I would guess that in some cases (like power tools for instance) manufacturers may substitutes plastic gears for metal or something like that when selling to big box stores. In the cases of breaker panels and circuit breakers I can't imagine what they would change to make them less expensive. Remember, when a supply house buys products like load centers they may buy one whole pallet of product for their stock. When a big box store buys them they buy hundreds of pallets that go to a central distribution center before going out to a specific store. In addition, the panels and breakers have to meet certain standards, in appearance, quality and safety in order to be sold to the public. I don't think any of the big breaker manufacturers would risk their reputations on inferior products. Just my opinion.
I think I have to agree with you on that. If they did get a modified version to cut down cost, I would think there at least would be a different catalog number, even if just adding a suffix to the regular number to indicate it is a different product. And yes it would need to meet listing standards, though I guess they could still have a different set of specifications that still meet the listing standards.

I got to see QO breaker plant in the late 80's when it was in Lincoln NE. I think they are all assembled in Mexico now. Even back then the common breakers were all machine assembled, they told us the GFCI's were hand assembled, don't know if that still is true, and AFCI's didn't exist yet. Seeing what I saw then, I think it would cost more to "re-tool" or change out the supply of components for one customer than it would to just continue to make the same thing you always make on this particular product. Power tools are not produced in the same quantity as standard single pole 15 or 20 amp circuit breakers. The markup is pretty good on them as well. You can get them on a project quote for maybe 25-35% of what you normally pay "over the counter". They wouldn't sell them that low if they are losing money on them, though they may sell them near break even point as long as they are making money on something else in the same order.
 
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