Things to Look for When Shopping Tips

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What happens to my old gear?

What Happens to My Old Equipment?

Reusing electrical supplies is an option in many cases, but sometimes you just need to junk your old gear and start from scratch. Those obsolete power circuit breakers, breaker panels or other gear may not be worth trying to retrofit if your power needs have outpaced the capabilities of the old system. In cases like these you may feel the financial sting of the investment, but you may not have to simply dispose of the old equipment. Your old system may be eligible for a buyback or "takeout" service for cash or store credit.

Don't just throw that old gear away, call your customer service rep and ask to have your old equipment evaluated for purchase. Power circuit breakers, panels, sub-panels and other items are frequently purchased to be re-utilized. Sometimes the unit itself can be salvaged or it may be cannibalized for parts to be installed in other items. Regardless of the final uses, your old gear may help cut the final price of your new system.

What is retrofitting?

What is Retrofitting?

Saving money on electrical supplies sometimes means updating, modifying or even replacing old or obsolete power circuit breakers, breaker panels and other parts of your electrical system. Retrofitting is the process of rebuilding, adapting or modifying obsolete equipment to make it conform with your current power needs. Retrofitting is not a do-it-yourself project, it is best reserved for those with electrical experience and know-how.

Your system may require modifications which are complex, or it may be a simple matter of adding the right modern components to your old system. An experienced electrician has the skills to properly evaluate your electrical needs based on the existing setup and what modifications work best with that equipment. Retrofitting can save you money over the long haul by making your system more efficient and easier to fix if things go wrong. Whether the answer is replacing a few obsolete power circuit breakers or installing an up-to-date version of your old breaker panels, the experts will find the right solution for that system.

What happens to re-certified or re-conditioned circuit breakers?

What Happens to Re-Certified Circuit Breakers?

Power circuit breakers which go through the re-conditioning process require several areas of attention before they can be declared fit for use. If you are interested in saving money on electrical supplies, re-conditioning may be an option for a wide range of medium and low-voltage electrical products. When a product is re-conditioned, it should be completely disassembled and inspected. Damaged, faulty or worn parts are replaced with items in working order.

All parts should be cleaned, replated or otherwise put back to like-new condition. The item is reassembled to its "ready for use" form. At this stage, the re-conditioned part is calibrated and tested to make sure it is ready to be returned to the owner. This is one of the most important phases of the process. Without calibration and testing, there is no way to determine whether a power circuit breaker or any other piece of re-conditioned equipment will serve the owner properly. Once the item is returned to you, it is certified for continued use and should feature a warranty.

Should I buy re-certified power circuit breakers?

Buying Re-Certified Circuit Breakers

Reusing electrical supplies or purchasing re-conditioned circuit breakers is an excellent way to save money, but you should do a little homework before purchasing a reconditioned power circuit breaker or other electrical products. Does the company doing the re-conditioning or re-certification of your power circuit breakers have a good reputation? Is it owned by a legitimate company? Some vendors employ smaller companies to do their reconditioning work for them; a legitimate company will have high standards in both workmanship and safety design.

Never purchase a reconditioned power circuit breaker from a company that you can't research properly. A reconditioning shop owned by a respected company is more likely to set (and enforce) high standards. A legitimate company has nothing to hide and there are good reconditioned power circuit breakers on the market; the work is only as good as the company which puts those items on the market.

Where can I find more information on counterfeit electrical products?

Where Can I Find Information About Counterfeit Electrical Supplies?

Counterfeit electrical supplies such as knock-off power circuit breakers are tracked by a variety of agencies. A manufacturer may issue a recall to round up unsafe knock-offs, or the government may issue a warning to beware of a certain lot of power circuit breakers of suspicious origins. The best place to get information on counterfeits is often the manufacturer's official site under the "news" or "press releases" category. You can also get information from the government on recalls, suspicious products and other information on counterfeits at This website provides information on unsafe and hazardous products including knockoffs and counterfeit electrical supplies. You can search for recalls, check the status of recent recalls, and even sign up for e-mail updates.

What should I do if I have counterfeit electrical supplies?

What Should I Do If I Purchased Counterfeit Electrical Supplies?

If you suspect you have purchased counterfeit electrical supplies such as power circuit breakers or other products, the first thing you should do is discontinue their use immediately. Uninstall them if you have already put them into use and put them aside. Contact the customer service department of the manufacturer those power circuit breakers were made to emulate and report the counterfeits. Describe the make and model they most closely resemble, where you purchased them and how long you have had them.

You should also report the counterfeit power circuit breakers or other products to the FBI to see if your purchases are connected with an ongoing investigation. Be sure to have all receipts, vendor addresses and other relevant information available. It's important not to assume you have been ripped off by a local vendor. If you purchased the products from a legitimate dealer, chances are the dealer was fooled by the counterfeits as well. Leave the detective work to the authorities, but be sure to report the origins of your counterfeits as far as you know them.

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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.