Electricians and Circuit Breakers

by chumchingee

The other day I had to have an electrician out. He was fairly honest with me and it cost me $125 to fix my electrical problems.

The problem actually was a power strip that shorted out in my bedroom. I figure water got into it somehow and shorted out the strip causing the back side of the house not to have power. It only showed up when I tried to plug something in, then the power went out to the back side of the house.

While he was here he checked the box and found a circuit breaker going bad in the kitchen. So he changed that as well.

My problem is that if it had been a fuse, I would be at least $120 dollars better off. I would have tracked it and changed things myself.

Which brings me to the problem. Circuit Breakers were designed to be more convenient, not . . .

If a fuse goes bad, you screw another one in and try to figure out what caused it to blow. Most times that is easy. Sometimes it takes some tracking down. The next fuse will blow if the problem isn’t solved.

A circuit breaker simply goes bad. You have to turn off the main power and get into the box if you are not an electrician. Then you have to dismantle the circuit box with four screws and go in and check the live box with a volt meter or special instrument. My volt meter works. But I have found it simpler to plug in a voltage checker or a light bulb to see if it is live. There are plenty of instructions on UTube to change a circuit breaker. I won’t go into that here. It means changing wires to a new circuit breaker. That is plain stupid. We have went from a simple fuse to a complicated wire change for the average person. That is why it cost $125 instead of less than $10.

I maintain that is a design made in heaven for electricians. The real problem is design. For one thing, if I was designing a modular system it would be a straight plug in without resorting to wire changes. You simply plug the circuit breaker into the circuit with a shell. Just like you change a battery in dozens of remotes and appliances. For another, I suggest the circuit breaker have a LED light to tell you it is working. Small red lights on a board can tell you at a glance which one is non functioning.

To satisfy codes, I would make the shell different shapes. So you could not accidentally plug a 20 into a 15 or vice versa. I would shape it so that it can only be plugged in one way so you cannot reverse any wires.

I figure you might spend $20 or more to change a bad circuit breaker. That is a long way from $125.

Also you can do that in the middle of the night if necessary. I maintain the home owner does not need to be ripped off. There is plenty of work for electricians without resorting to this engineering fraud.

The module does need to be designed so it will fail if the original problem is not solved. It has to be tracked down either be you or an electrician if you cannot figure out what the problem is.

Right now Circuit breakers are about as complicated as changing a wall fixture. That is beyond a lot of people.

It is about time to change how we do things to make it more convenient for home owners.