Material shortages

Rdcowart

Member
Location
North Carolina
Occupation
Electrician
Here in nc starting to get bad. I have two panel jobs I’ve got to get done, had to go to four supply houses to find everything needed. Even just trying to get standard 15 and 20 amp single pole breakers is getting hard to find. Plus no one has any 200 amp main breaker panels.
 

James L

Senior Member
Location
Kansas Cty, Mo, USA
Occupation
Electrician
It doesn't make sense around here. One place is out of breakers, a different place is out of pvc pipe. Another place is out of panels, a different place is out of certain cable.

It's weird because there isn't any city-wide shortages, just specific stuff at specific places. Just gotta drive around shopping to get everything
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
It doesn't make sense around here. One place is out of breakers, a different place is out of pvc pipe. Another place is out of panels, a different place is out of certain cable.

It's weird because there isn't any city-wide shortages, just specific stuff at specific places. Just gotta drive around shopping to get everything
Yes, I've found the same thing. It took me 3 weeks to order a breaker panel and ALL the breakers I needed (from various different suppliers on the Internet) just for a service upgrade. Of course, if you want to pay top $$ for CH or Sq D QO at the supply house I don't think you'll have much of a problem All in all you'll probably pay about $100 more for the same material. I guess not so bad if you can build it into the price of the job. The trouble is you have to know that up front before you make the quote.
 

ptonsparky

Senior Member
Location
NE (9.06 miles @5.9 Degrees from Winged Horses)
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I primarily buy CH from my area supply house. Their pricing is competitive. I did a quick online search for a CH120 and found my over counter pricing was less than half. Pricing for panel and breaker specials even less.

That said, for a while, I could buy a 3R spa disconnect with 2 pole 50 A GFCI at Menards for less than the GFCI alone at suppliers. Plus, it was in stock. My pricing has improved since, but not the stock status.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
After major disaster events (like all the hurricanes and flooding this year), it isn't that the factories are shut down, it's that priority is given to shipments going to areas that need to be rebuilt. Certainteed has two big PVC conduit production plants here in Northern CA, both are running full tilt boogie trying to keep up with demand (we do work at both plants). At one plant, a maintenance supervisor told me that for the past few months, 80% of their production is getting loaded onto rail cars going to the Southeast.

The COVID shortages of some things had to do with shutdowns though. All of the breaker mfrs use factories in Mexico, mostly around Mexico City and they were hit hard by COVID earlier this year.
I believe Covid related shutdowns at those plants is one issue, then on top of that there is delays that are somewhat normal because of importing procedures. Ran into this a few years ago when supply house was bought out by another company (out of state). Come spring when we see a lot of pump panels sold in this area, there were none on the shelf because corporate told the local house they didn't need that many pump panels on the shelf when they attempted to order them in December or January. Come May and June when those needed to be in operation they were supposedly manufactured and shipped but we were still waiting for many of them to cross the Mexico border.

My bigger summer project(s) took a while to fulfill the Square D items. Some 2 pole GFCI breakers took about the longest, but still am short three 60 amp non fused disconnects that were ordered in August.
 

Bluegrass Boy

Member
Location
Texas
Occupation
Commercial/ Industrial/ Maintenance Electrician
I believe Covid related shutdowns at those plants is one issue, then on top of that there is delays that are somewhat normal because of importing procedures. Ran into this a few years ago when supply house was bought out by another company (out of state). Come spring when we see a lot of pump panels sold in this area, there were none on the shelf because corporate told the local house they didn't need that many pump panels on the shelf when they attempted to order them in December or January. Come May and June when those needed to be in operation they were supposedly manufactured and shipped but we were still waiting for many of them to cross the Mexico border.

My bigger summer project(s) took a while to fulfill the Square D items. Some 2 pole GFCI breakers took about the longest, but still am short three 60 amp non fused disconnects that were ordered in August.
I agree that COVID has been a big part of shortage. Factories pretty much everywhere we’re shut down. The one I was at stopped production on Feb 20th, and even when they started bringing people back, it was in small groups.
Also a lot of companies have moved towards “Lean Manufacturing “, ours was considered JIT, “ just in time”. They didn’t produce much parts ahead of time, so that cuts out a lot of overhead, like depending on what they produce, maybe a whole extra warehouse just for storage. So they will have both less materials for creating, and less produced products available.
I imagine a lot of companies are waiting on each other to get the parts and pieces, and raw materials to make the products. A lot of companies out source the small parts they need to assemble their products.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
I agree that COVID has been a big part of shortage. Factories pretty much everywhere we’re shut down. The one I was at stopped production on Feb 20th, and even when they started bringing people back, it was in small groups.
Also a lot of companies have moved towards “Lean Manufacturing “, ours was considered JIT, “ just in time”. They didn’t produce much parts ahead of time, so that cuts out a lot of overhead, like depending on what they produce, maybe a whole extra warehouse just for storage. So they will have both less materials for creating, and less produced products available.
I imagine a lot of companies are waiting on each other to get the parts and pieces, and raw materials to make the products. A lot of companies out source the small parts they need to assemble their products.
Very well true. Look how many little pieces are in a single pole circuit breaker. I went through a Square D plant when they made QO breakers up this way about 30 years ago. They have machines that assemble them and can spit out hundreds of assembeled breakers in minutes, but there needs to be parts in them or they produce nothing.
 

Tim Simmons

New User
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrician
I have 20 cases of single pole 15 amp Homeline breakers if anyone is interested. I used to have a deal with damaged freight with Southeastern Freight Line trucking company & bought hundreds of breakers still in boxes. When something was damaged, the customer would refuse the whole shipment and majority of materials were in perfect shape. The amount of transformers damaged was incredible! Idiots would try picking them up with forks from the top. 🤪 so, I bought 56 at one time and had Piedmont Metal make me new tops. Some had major damage to sheet metal and some very minor. It sucked when the plastic sticker showing the KVA and “specs” was messed up because Cutter Hammer wouldn’t sell you new stickers. Anyway, $7 for the brand new Homeline breakers still in the cardboard cases and they’re yours. I have 64 brand new QO single pole 20’s and 220 15’s. I want $10 for the 15’s and $12 for the 20’s.
 

retirede

Senior Member
Location
Illinois
I have 20 cases of single pole 15 amp Homeline breakers if anyone is interested. I used to have a deal with damaged freight with Southeastern Freight Line trucking company & bought hundreds of breakers still in boxes. When something was damaged, the customer would refuse the whole shipment and majority of materials were in perfect shape. The amount of transformers damaged was incredible! Idiots would try picking them up with forks from the top. so, I bought 56 at one time and had Piedmont Metal make me new tops. Some had major damage to sheet metal and some very minor. It sucked when the plastic sticker showing the KVA and “specs” was messed up because Cutter Hammer wouldn’t sell you new stickers. Anyway, $7 for the brand new Homeline breakers still in the cardboard cases and they’re yours. I have 64 brand new QO single pole 20’s and 220 15’s. I want $10 for the 15’s and $12 for the 20’s.
My local HD gets $8.62 for QO 15s and 20s. Over 50 of each in stock.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Needed a QO260 yesterday, Not certain when will have one. Supply house looked at Square D distribution site and there are several thousand on back order at that time, that is in their distribution chain. You can bet the larger purchasers get priority whenever there are items manufactured.

Also asked about a QBL breaker and enclosure. The breaker the supply house said they have in some of their stores, there were no enclosures in the supply chain and needed to be manufactured. Though leadtime supposedly only 7 days, guessing those not made in Mexico, or would be longer lead time.

Got the last pieces recently of a job that was ordered back in August.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
We are not seeing much in the way of disruptions, but we don't use a lot of common things like residential panel boards.
I had Square D items that took months to get that are not typical residential items at all . 600 volt disconnects, three pole breakers, 60 amp GFCI breakers. NF panels..
 
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