Circuit breakers have been around almost as long as electricity. Not long after electrical power began to be used industrially, the need to interrupt the power when electrical systems became overloaded was recognized. Over loaded circuits can become overheated, which becomes a fire hazard. This problem is resolved in the invention of the circuit breaker. The first electrical breakers appeared around the turn of the 20th century. Thomas Edison first described a circuit breaker and its use in an 1879 patent application. It was not until 1924 that the first breaker similar to the modern circuit breakers seen today was patented by Brown, Boveri, & Cie. But the actual invention is credited to Hugo Stotz, who had sold his company to Brown, Boveri, & Cie.
With this long history of power breakers many manufacturers have come and gone. They have merged and changed names. Today there are almost a dozen major manufacturers of electrical breakers. They include General Electric, Siemens, Cutler-Hammer, Square D, Westinghouse, Zinsco, Thomas & Betts, Challenger, and FPE. With this in mind, we must begin to look at just how many older buildings there are that have old breaker panels in them. Now we must consider how many of those old breaker panels are no longer in being produced. So what if you own one of these old buildings, and you find you need to replace breakers in an old obsolese electrical load panel. Well, your headache could just be starting because your main electrical supply stores just will not carry old breaker panels.
Old circuit breakers and breaker panels do not always mean you're about to have a migraine. Sometimes you can get lucky and the breakers and / or panels are still in production. Or the company that manufactured them is still around and has replacement parts. But often that's not the case and the search is on, either to find the power breakers that will work in the old panel – if the panel is still in good condition and does not need to be replaced itself – or to replace the old obsolete panel altogether. Just the thought of trying to find replacement parts of old obsoleste ones can be daunting and somewhat overwhelming.
The good news is there are a number of companies who specialize in finding old breakers and breaker boxes. These companies are experts in their field, and can assist you in finding the parts you need. Turn to an expert, and your headache is over!