| In my service panel (dating from 1980) I have several ganged type | breakers for the AC, Range and Water heater. Today I had to expand the | panel by two lighting circuits, and in the process had to remove these | ganged breakers. I was surprised to find that the two breakers in each | pair were apparently actually separate breakers with a small plastic | insert stuck between the pole handles of each breaker. As luck would | have it I broke all of these inserts trying to get the breakers back in. | Are these available anymore? Is it the right fix to replace those? I | note the new breaker I bought for my range, a CH-230 looks like two | CH-130's "glued" together and has a painted metal band around the | pieces locking their poles together.
I have seen, even in recent catalogs, little attachments for handles that will gang breakers together. One type screws into a hole in the tip of the handle (well, I assume a screw ... could be a snap-in bolt). Another type just slips over two handles, which I assume snaps in place reasonably hard enough to stay there.
What I (and maybe others) are wondering is if this is safe, and if they are UL listed for this type of operation.
One possible issue is with breakers that have a different off-state when tripped vs. when switched off. Some breakers go to a half-way position in the tripped state (you have to switch them fully off before going back on). In these cases, that half-way position might not be able to force the other breaker with the handle-tie into the off position (the other breaker might not see the over current fault on its phase).
I'm looking for a 4-pole breaker in order to comply with NEC 210.7(b) when using a split duplex NEMA 6-20R receptacle. I mention this because of the way that rule is written:
210.7(B) Multiple Branch Circuits. Where two or more branch circuits supply devices or equipment on the same yoke, a means to simultaneously disconnect the ungrounded conductors supplying those devices shall be provided at the point at which the branch circuits originate.
Note that the wording says "to simultaneously disconnect". It does not say "to simultaneously protect". In other words, there has to be a means to shut off the power of both at the same time (simultaneously disconnect) and it has to be at the obvious location (point at which the branch circuits originate). It does not appear to require that both be interrupted together in the event of a fault condition on one of them.
Now, I do not know that this is the acceptable interpretation. Your AHJ may have a different understanding of this. My point, though, is that this kind of interpretation may be the reason we see a lot of handle tied breakers. They may have been used for shared neutral 120V circuits where merely ONE of the breakers entering a tripped state would clear a single phase fault. I do know many shared neutral circuits in older homes don't even have such a handle tie at all. They would comply with 210.7(b) as long as one receptacle had only one "side" (120V) of the circuit. 210.4(b) would be another matter.
What I was considering was looking for a handle tie that would go between 2 two-pole breakers, for a total of 4 poles, where fault protection would at least exist within a single circuit. I have not see any such thing. One option I was looking at was using one of those double-gang twins (twins being where you have 2 breakers in a single slot), and a common handle for the whole thing (there is such a thing as a common handle for the two outer breakers in a double-gang twin).
Since there are no 4-pole breakers for other than certain industrial panels, I guess I will not have the option to split a NEMA 6-20R duplex into separate single dedicated circuits, and will have to use two such separate yoke devices where I need 2 of those 240V circuits to be available.