Defining Series Rating vs Fully Rated
Defining Series Rating vs Fully Rated

Many people are under the misconception that the interrupting rating of an overcurrent device such as a molded case circuit breaker is the marked value on the circuit breaker handle. The value marked on the handle is actually the ampere rating of the device.

UL 489 is the Standard For Safety For Molded-Case Circuit Breakers, Molded-Case Switches and Circuit-Breaker Enclosures. According to UL 489, the ampere rating of a circuit breaker rated 100 amperes or less shall be molded, stamped, or etched on the handle or the escutcheon area of the circuit breaker so as to be visible without removing the trim or cover of the enclosure.

The ampere rating is the lowest current, that if exceeded, will initiate the overcurrent device to trip.

The interrupting rating is commonly referred to with several terms that mean the same thing:

The interrupting rating is defined in the NEC® as “the highest current at rated voltage that a device is identified to interrupt under standard test conditions.”

A circuit breaker with a 200-ampere rating for example will not trip unless more than 200 amperes of current is drawn through the circuit breaker. The same 200-ampere rated circuit breaker might also have an interrupting rating or ampere interrupting capacity (AIC) of 35,000 amperes which means that if the breaker is subjected to up to 35,000 amps of current during a fault condition, the device will interrupt the fault condition without blowing up.

See the actual NEC® text at NFPA.ORG for the complete code section. Once there, click on the “free access” tab and select the applicable year of NFPA 70 (National Electrical code).

2014-2017 Code Language:

Article 100 Definition:

Interrupting Rating. The highest current at rated voltage that a device is identified to interrupt under standard test conditions.

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