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History of the Circuit Breakers Part 3 – Civic Recycling

History of Circuit Breakers Part 3

History of the Circuit Breaker

We last left off our exploration into the history of circuit breakers thinking about what may be next on the horizon. A little research into the topic presents us with a number of ideas, many of which are quite exciting in the development of how we consume and use electricity & power. Let’s look at a couple of ideas and developments of the last few years to get a firmer grasp on where the world of electricity and circuit breakers are headed.


The first exciting development we came across is being brought to us by leading power and automation technology group ABB. ABB has solved a 100-year-old problem in electrical engineering by developing the world’s first circuit breaker for high voltage direct current (HVDC).

What this circuit breaker does is allow for the “interruption” of power flows, which will enable efficient integration and exchange of renewable energy. In layman’s terms, what this invention and new circuit breaker technology will do is allow existing power systems and grids to work with emerging technologies. This creates much better use of power and better system usage for companies as well as users. Sounds awesome and we love it!

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History of the Circuit Breaker, by Civic Recycling: Part 2

History of the Circuit Breaker, by Civic Recycling

We began Part 1 with the inception of the circuit breaker, in Thomas Edison’s shop in the 1870s. The Boston Electric Company was the first to manufacture and install a circuit breaker, about 20 years later in 1898. But these early breakers wouldn’t be familiar to you – or to your parents, or even your grandparents.

The First Miniature Circuit Breaker

The miniature circuit breaker you would recognize was born in 1924. A Swiss company called Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC) patented the design, which was based on an earlier patent by Hugo Stotz. Stotz was an engineer who had founded an electrical society in Mannheim, Germany in 1891. He sold his company and patents to BBC, and they developed and patented the miniature circuit breaker in Germany. Stotz is credited as the inventor, and thus the grandfather of the modern, thermal-magnetic breakers in every home, office, and industrial property today.

Meanwhile, BBC stayed in business under the same name for over 60 years. In 1988, it merged with the General Swedish Electrical Limited Company (ASEA), and became ASEA Brown & Boveri (ABB). ABB still manufactures Stotz circuit breakers, and in 2014 they celebrated the 90-year anniversary of the original patent.

Dangerous Times during the 1900’s

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Top 5 Electrical Safety Tips for Homeowners & Landlords

Electrical Safety Tips Homeowners home safety

Electrical issues need to be addressed. Not only can homeowners receive quite a shock from overloaded circuits or worn-out insulation (no pun intended), but an electrical problem, such as an outdated breaker, can lead to a fire. Homeowners need to be aware of how to keep their home safe from electrical problems and keep an eye out for a range of electrical hazards. It is also important to realize when to call for professional help.

Homeowners and landlords can address a number of these issues and avoid dealing with a potential fire hazard in their home. Protect yourself and your family with the following electrical five safety tips.


1. A Stubborn Breaker Should Not Be Forced

You reset the breaker. It then immediately trips. Do not attempt to reset it again. This problem could be due to one of two reasons. On one hand, the electrical load on that breaker could be too large. On the other hand, tripping could be a result of a severe electrical problem. Force that breaker again and you may be dealing with a fire in your home. Tripping of breakers is meant to protect the homeowner. Call an electrician to investigate the problem.

2. A Warm Outlet Could Be A Sign Of An Overloaded Outlet

Do not ignore a warm outlet. This does not always apply to dimmer switches, which are often warm and generally not a hazard. But as a general rule, never ignore a warm outlet. There can be a few reasons for a warm outlet. As a homeowner, you may be dealing with a loose electrical splice, undersized wiring or a large electrical load on a single outlet. Cut the power before checking into the issue. Keep an eye out for melted connections, burned insulation or a loose splice. In addition, evaluate the wattage of connected devices. It may be necessary to switch the device to another outlet.

An electrician may be needed if the issue continues after a basic assessment is made – electrical issues can be tricky, so don’t hesitate to call on a professional in cases where you may feel unsafe.

Better safe than sorry!

3. An Outdated Breaker May Cause a Fire

Outdated panels and breakers can overheat wires and lead to a house fire. Homeowners need to replace old, outdated panels and circuit breakers such as older FPE panels, Zinsco Panels, split-bus panels past their expected lifespan and modified fuse boxes. Modifications on fuse boxes can lead to blown fuses and compensatory changes like larger fuses can create a fire hazard.

A homeowner with an outdated panel and breaker should have it professionally inspected and in the most instances, replaced.

4. A Wobbly Outlet or Switch Receptacle May Have Come Loose

When outlets or switches are loose, this is generally an indication that the box is not properly affixed to the stud, or it could mean the device was improperly mounted. Cut the power, remove the faceplate and check mounting screws. You may need to tighten the mounting screw, shorten long screws to have them fully set, or tighten the box’s connection to the framing. This should address the issue.

Again, f you are unsure contact an electrician to inspect the outlet. Safety first!

5. Do Not Use Water to Put Out an Electrical Fire

All residents in the house should know how to put out an electrical fire. Water should not be used to address an electrical fire as the water will only help it get larger. A chemical fire extinguisher can be used on small electrical fires. If a fire has grown too large, exit the home and call the fire department once safely outside.


Keep Your Home Safe With the Right Equipment and Expertise

Not only is Civic Recycling the place for necessary electrical equipment, reconditioned breakers, tested components, and much more, the Civic Recycling team answers your questions, providing expert advice when it comes to identifying and addressing electrical malfunctions. Businesses and homeowners in and around Calgary have relied upon Civic Recycling, their supplier of new, used, and reconditioned electrical equipment since 1995.

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Circuit Breakers – When Amazon Is NOT The Best Place To Buy

square d circuit breakers yellow warehouse civic recycling switch on off electrical products shop

As the world changes, so do the ways in which we shop. With technology constantly evolving many people have begun to do a lot of their shopping online. When there is the option to shop from sites like Amazon, who seemingly carry any and every product available, it streamlines life and makes shopping for hard to find items a lot easier. Having the ability to get some of your groceries and clothes and a baby seat all in one place makes life a whole lot easier. It would appear, on the surface at least, that buying everything from a site like this is a no-brainer. So what about Circuit Breakers? Maybe safety is another factor we should consider as well.

Benefits of a Specialty Service

While there’s truth to a lot of what was just mentioned, occasionally purchasing a product that requires more thought from a place like this is a little risky. While a site like Amazon caters to everyone, it lacks the specific advice and personal touch some of these products require. Buying certain things, like circuit breakers for instance, require knowledge to ensure the right product is being purchased for specific jobs. Some buying circuit breakers know what they’re looking for, many others, however, do not. Going into Amazon and arbitrarily purchasing a circuit breaker in the hopes that it will get the job done is not a smart way to operate.

When purchasing circuit breakers, whether new or reconditioned, there needs to be a certain expectation that it’s the right product for the job and that it’s going to work to the levels expected. Where sites like Amazon fall short is ensuring that all of these prerequisites are met. Amazon does a lot of things extremely well, offering nuanced advice and guidance specific to circuit breakers doesn’t happen to be one of them.


Why Choose Breakers from Civic Recycling?

When purchasing a circuit breaker, doing so from a place that specializes in such products is the best plan of attack. There are a number of reasons why looking at sites like our own, Civic Recycling, specializes in circuit breakers and have an intimate knowledge the products, will bear fruit in the long run. There are a number of reasons why specialty sites will be beneficial when purchasing products such as these, and here are a few of them:

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