A Combo Pack

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

There is no doubt about it, things go better in combinations. Like beer and pretzels, Simon and Garfunkel, Butch and Sundance and Sylvester and Frank Stallone. Okay that last one may be a bad example. No question we like to have things in multiples. It's just more fun and often times simply practical. So while inspecting a house recently should I have been surprised to find a combo electric panel?

A combination fuse and breaker electric panelActually, yes I was.

As I pointed out, many things are great in combos, but I find it hard to believe a combination fuse and breaker panel is one of the great ideas of the 20th century. Yet there it was in the basement of this 1965 split level house. I have little doubt this is the original electric panel in this one owner home, a rarity in and of itself.

Of course my first thought upon seeing this combo panel was that some do-it-yourselfer had "modified" the panel a la Tim Taylor. I was to soon discover that was in fact not the case at all.

An explanation of Egyptian hieroglyphics Pulling the cover off the panel reveled electrical schematic drawings, known to most people as Egyptian hieroglyphics. Interestingly the label showed diagram symbols for fuses and breakers. The hieroglyphic, um schematic drawings also showed that this panel could be equipped with either fuses or breakers.

While this electric panels pairing of fuses and breakers was an odd couple, it seems it was meant to be.

 

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Rainmaker
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Jeanne & Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Brokers
The Durango Home Team at Keller Williams Southwest Associates - Durango, CO
Selling Durango CO homes to good people like you!

Ive been around construction in one form or another for around 50 years and I've never run across one of those.  Very curious looking.  I'm betting this dual arrangement didn't hang around very long.

Apr 22, 2012 07:17 AM #1
Rainmaker
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Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

I have never heard of this either James.

Looking at the photo, it seems fabricated, and out of place.

We learn something once again from you James. Thanks!

Apr 22, 2012 09:31 AM #2
Rainmaker
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Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, That is awesome. I like it ; ) I have seen fuse panels next to breakers but not this sweet little design.  Fuses, in my opinion are the better protection unfortunately they also have more inherit cost and risk because of homeowner circumventing the system.

Apr 22, 2012 10:12 AM #3
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim that is indeed a strange duck---cool find.  Without the schematic most inspectors would have assumed there was something "wrong."  Of course I do wonder about the spaces around the breakers---that doesn't seem correct.

Apr 22, 2012 10:58 AM #4
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I have never seen one of those!  And I see lots of old houses.  I have seen a small fuse box with a breaker box in another part of the house, but never the all-in-one kind!  Very cool.

And, I would have no idea if it was done correctly!

Apr 22, 2012 06:13 PM #5
Rainmaker
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James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Jeanne & Ralph, Considering I have never seen one before, and looking down the comments it seems no else has either, I guess this is a very rare bird indeed. 

Tom, That was my first impression also, until I started to examine it. 

Don, I would agree, fuses really are more reliable since they're not mechanical. Many badly designed breaker panels around.

Charlie, What I believe is that the spaces are caused by the removal of the fuse blocks to insert the breakers you now see. The fuses are mounted to panel buss inside blocks. It's a modular design. 

Jay, Considering that you and Charlie have never seen one, this makes the find quite rare in my mind. The panel is made by GE which were made locally here in Plainville CT. Might explain part of the reason why no else has seen one. 

Apr 23, 2012 03:50 AM #6
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James Quarello

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