GE Power Break I

4 things to consider when selecting PB1 Breakers

by Jim Hardy

We recently sold a reconditioned General Electric Power Break I (PB1) circuit breaker. During the sales process, our customer asked us to quote a new breaker, as well. As it turned out, GE discontinued manufacturing the PB1 in 2008 (GE publication GEA18416).

There are still new surplus breakers available, but that number is decreasing over time. You might be interested in what we found, so we’re sharing our research. Our research was based on a facility replacing existing circuit breakers. 

There was no emergency, but they had an outage scheduled 3 weeks in the future when they’d be planning to install the breaker. Facilities undergoing major renovation or upgrades have different considerations.

GE Power Break I - Pros and Cons

1. Replace GE PB Switchgear

Available from all of the major equipment manufacturers (ABB/GE, Eaton, Siemens, Square D).  There are also a number of OEM’s that specialize in specific markets, such as data centers or oil & gas.

Equipment up to current standards
Reduced maintenance costs
Increased safety

Lead time
Environmental impact

2. Retrofill PB1

Power Break II into a PB1 retrofill kit available from ABB/GE for fixed mount frames only. Drawout breakers are retrofit and installed by GE Engineering Services. (GE publication DEA-520) According to GE, minor switchgear modifications are required. Schneider (Square D) offers a Masterpact retrofill that is available through Square D Field Services. Switchgear modifications required.

Equipment up to current standards
Reduced maintenance costs
Increased safety
Usually an operating expense 

Expense (significantly less than replacing switchgear)
Lead time (significantly less than replacing switchgear)

3. Retrofit GE PB1

ABB/GE Entelliguard TU Trip unit is available for trip unit conversion. Utility Relay Company has the AC Pro and AC Pro II retrofit kits available. This is what the customer actually ended up ordering. Retrofit kit installed and tested by BCS Switchgear.

Modern features, such as communication, available
Increased safety available
Minimal to no downtime
Usually classified as operating expense

Increasing maintenance costs

4. Reconditioned PB1 Switchgear

Available through BCS Switchgear. Reconditioned and tested to NETA standards. In this case, the end user decided to purchase a reconditioned circuit breaker with an AC Pro II retrofit kit installed. That option best fit their schedule.

Reduced maintenance costs
Increased safety
Minimal to no lead time

Equipment might not be up to most current standards
Increasing maintenance costs

Years Manufactured
1965 – 2008
Electrical info
600 volts AC
Amp range      100 – 4000 amp

GE Power Break 1 OEM Support
Discontinued in 2008. (GEA18416)
Parts availability – No new parts available from GE?
Power Break II replacement option (DEA-520)


Comments about other pros and cons are welcome. We would also appreciate comments from those who have been involved in retrofits and refills.
BCS Switchgear can help you choose the right switchgear or breaker solution for your application. Our product experts are standing by to help.
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