Square D breakers are reliable and better for residential and commercial structures. But people are confused between two common Square D breakers – Homeline and QO panels. Today’s article will share the difference between the two.
Homeline breakers are good for residential services, whereas QO breakers are ideal for commercial use. While QO panels work with a 3-phase circuit, Homeline panels mostly work with a single-phase circuit. Homeline panels use aluminum bus bars, whereas QO panels use tin-plated copper bus bars.
Both the breakers are efficient and have their merits and demerits. Follow this article till the end as we compare Homeline and QO panels and where to use them for their best performances.
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Introduction to Square D electrical panels
Square D electrical panels are the branch company for Schneider Electric and a leading electrical equipment manufacturer in the United States.
Square D is mostly known for making various circuit breakers with safety switches for both residential and commercial purposes.
Square D companies manufacture different breakers to support various electrical requirements.
The breakers have unique features which make them different from each other. Mainly there are three types of Square D breakers:
- The Homeline
- QO (plug-on)
- QOB (bolt-on)
Today’s discussion is about the difference between the Homeline and QO panels.
The Square D breakers also have GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) breakers, AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) breakers, and CAFI (Combination Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter) breakers.
Choosing Square D breakers can benefit you in multiple ways because:
- Square D breakers have a good reputation for their dedication to safety. Besides, they are well-known for making circuits like control centers, tower lights, and building management systems.
- Square D offers various circuits with safety switches and affordable products.
- Square D can provide a stock of old breaker models and repairs for old and obsolete breakers.
Overview of Homeline and QO panel
Before jumping to the differences, let’s learn about both panels in brief:
Homeline breaker panels
Homeline electrical panels are Square D’s budget-friendly and reliable for maximum residential services.
They are reasonable, high-performing breakers in demand and available in single-pole and double-pole options.
Homeline can be used with CSED (Combination Service Entrance Devices) or the Homeline load centers.
The single-pole Homeline breakers can be used only for residential services because they are rated only for 120 volts.
However, it is enough for houses.
You cannot use heavy-duty appliances like washing machines and dryers with the Homeline breakers.
Homeline breakers handle most electrical items and light setups.
It is a plug-on neutral load center, and you can use the breakers directly to a dedicated neutral bar.
It will further lead to a clean-looking panel without any pigtail wires.
They can easily handle 15 amps to 30 amps and have good overload and short-circuit protection.
The single-pole breakers cost only $5.
QO breaker panels
QO panels are more efficient and safer than the Homeline breakers as they are coupled with the Qwik-Grip features.
They are available in single-pole, double-pole, and tripe-pole options.
You can use QO panels with CSED, QO load centers, and NQOD panel boards, thus being highly compatible.
The major place of attraction in the QO panels is their 240-volt rating, which makes them an ideal choice for heavy-duty appliances like washing machines and dryers.
Since there are various options, you can find a single-pole QO breaker if you only need them for the electrical outlets.
The QO panels also have a Visi-Trip indicator which shows you when the breaker will trip so that you prepare yourself for resetting.
A red light indicator will alert you that the breaker has flipped.
The higher amp ratings (e.g., 42-space Square D 200 amp QO panel) and their flexibility with the high-powered appliances make them more impressive.
The QO panels have a limited lifetime warranty if your breaker faces any issues.
The panels may be twice the price of the Homeline breakers, but it is quite worth it as it provides better benefits than the Homelines.
Comparison of the Homeline and QO panels
Both the Homeline and QO panels belong to the Square D breakers.
That is why choosing between them can be difficult.
Both are efficient in their ways.
In this part, we have pointed out the major differences between the two to help you distinguish them and buy the suitable one:
Both the load centers are tin-plated.
The load center in the Homeline breaker has aluminum bus bars that are not shielded.
On the other hand, the QO panels have shielded copper bus bars.
The QO panels’ branch neutrals are on the top of the load center.
But, in the Homeline breakers, the branch neutrals are located down the load center’s interior.
All the spots are in tandem with the new construction plug-on neutrals of the Homeline load centers, whereas the QO panels are not in tandem.
Both panels use the same main breakers and lugs, with common covers and boxes.
Number of circuit breakers
The Homeline breakers will offer you only single-phase breakers.
But, the QO panels will give you single-phase, double-phase, and triple-phase breakers.
The QO breakers offer high-intensity discharge or HID breakers.
They also offer EPD and EPE breakers, alternatives to Ground-Fault trip level.
You will have 3-pole breakers for the 3-phase QO panels, keep-operated breakers, switch neutral breakers, high-interrupt breakers, and non-automatic molded case switches.
These varieties are not offered in the Homeline breakers.
But, they have Quad Tandem breakers, two single-pole tandem, and a 2-pole.
These breakers use only two spaces of your panel.
Circuit breaker type
The Homeline breaker types are mainly single-phase, which means you can mostly use them for residential buildings.
Homeline breakers are rated for home usage, where you only need to handle smaller appliances with low electrical output.
That does not limit them to residential uses.
You can also use them for a few commercial uses, but not widely.
On the other hand, the QO breaker types are available in single, double, and triple-phase type breakers.
That is widely used for commercial or industrial purposes, especially lighting systems.
You can use the QO breaker for heavy-duty appliances that will draw more power to perform at their best, like dryers, washing machines, and HVAC equipment.
I won’t say the same for the Homeline breakers.
It is better for houses with smaller appliances.
The QO breakers will have some electrical accessories, which will take up extra space on the breaker, which is absent in the Homeline breakers.
Design and aesthetics
Based on the design and aesthetics, you can differentiate the Homeline and QO breakers from their size.
The Homeline breakers are sized for 1 inch.
But the QO breakers measure around ¾ inch.
As a result, the Homeline breakers are thicker than the QO breakers.
If you open the breakers, you will see that the Homeline breakers have unshielded aluminum bus bars.
In contrast, the QO breakers will have shielded copper bars.
Another difference is that the QO panel’s double-pole breaker will have one handle on one of its poles.
On the contrary, the Homeline breakers will have handles for both poles, which are joined with a handle tie.
When your Homeline breaker trips, you will have to perform a few troubleshooting steps to find the tripped breaker and then reset it.
But, that is not the case in the QO panel.
The QO panel has an indicator called the Visi-Trip indicator.
It will blink an orange light to inform you when your breaker is about to trip.
As a result, you can prepare yourself to reset the breaker.
Both can fluctuate in cost based on the surrounding situation.
They are subject to outer factors like supply shortages, Square D’s sourcing blunders, and epidemics like COVID-19.
Generally, the QO panels are always costlier than the Homeline breakers due to their versatility.
Sometimes, the Homeline breakers become more expensive than the QO panels due to increased demand.
If you want to buy panels, the Homeline 40-space 200A (2-pole) panels cost $1,000, which is around $200 cheaper than the QO panels.
The QO 42-space 200A panel is the most expensive one, costing $1,200 – $1,500.
For the breaker boxes, the price difference between the two is smaller than the panels.
The average price of the Homeline breakers begins from $4 to $5, and QO panels will be $9 to $10.
For example, if you buy a Homeline double-pole breaker, you get it at $712, but a QO double-pole will cost over $1,000.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Homeline and QO panels
Both the Homeline and the QO panels are efficient.
But every good thing will have some benefits and some flaws.
This section will discuss both Square D panels’ merits and demerits.
Though Homeline breakers are good for only residential areas, they can provide you with the following benefits:
- You can install Homeline quickly and at affordable prices.
- The breakers are not necessarily limited to residential services. You can use them for a few commercial areas too.
- There are only a few connections to make while installing the breaker.
- You can save wires by installing Homeline breakers.
- The breaker will give you a fully distributed split neutral bar
- You do not require any pigtail with this breaker.
- If you ever face issues with Homeline, the troubleshooting steps are easy.
- The breaker can provide extra information about the circuit with a single touch.
- The breaker is a time saver as it takes less time to install.
Despite being an impressive breaker at a low price, it comes with some demerits:
- You cannot use the breaker to run heavy-duty appliances like dryers and washers.
- The breaker does not have the triple-pole option.
- Homeline cannot be used widely in commercial areas.
- Homeline does not contain any additional features like the QO panels.
- They are mostly available only for single-phase.
- Homeline does not have any compatible breaker.
The reason why QO panels are chosen over the Homeline breakers are below:
- QO panels last longer than the Homeline panels.
- QO panels have single, double, and triple-pole options.
- The QO panels can be used for heavy-duty appliances like washers and dryers.
- The breakers have residential system protection. Additionally, you can use them for commercial lighting systems.
- The breaker will deliver several other protections, like short-circuit, overloading, overcurrent, series arc, parallel arc, and ground faults.
- The amp rating load is higher.
- The main disadvantage of the QO breaker panel is its price. But since the breaker has great versatility, the price is worth it.
- Another disadvantage is compatibility. The QO panels won’t be compatible with any other breakers. You need a QO breaker to fit the QO panel.
Factors to consider when choosing between the Homeline and QO panels
Both Homeline and QO are good options. However, which one you should choose depends on various factors, like:
- The electrical system size
- Type of breaker
- Your budget
- The requirement
Even though the Homelines are cheap, you should still buy them.
Similarly, QO panels are better does not necessarily make them a mandatory choice for your house.
Let’s look at the factors:
Size of the electrical system
Find the electrical system size before choosing the breaker.
Use QO breakers if you need a bigger electrical system with high amps, like 200 amps.
But, if the electrical system is smaller, for example, 30 or 50 amps, use Homeline breakers.
Type of breakers required
The breaker you need depends on the current type you use and what appliance you run.
You better run the QO panels if you have DC or direct current.
Homelines are not rated for DC.
If your house contains a washer and dryer, you must install the QO panel.
Since washers and dryers are heavy performers and draw too much power, QO panels will be a good choice.
If you have a low budget and do not run any high-powered appliances, try the Homeline panels for your house.
Whether you need a single-pole or double-pole depends on the number and types of appliances you have in your house.
But if you have a higher budget and run heavy appliances, use the QO panels for safety.
It depends on your pocket about which one to choose.
Before you install the breaker, confirm that you need that particular breaker for installation in your house.
Unless you have any heavy appliances that need more power, you do not have to use the QO panels.
Homeline breakers will work fine with smaller appliances.
Go for the QO panels if you have appliances like dryers, water heaters, or HVAC equipment.
Recommended uses of Homeline and QO panels
The QO panels have great versatility, making them ideal for working with a wider range of electrical systems.
The QO panel will also have a Visi-Trip indicator which will help you know when the breaker is going to trip.
It further makes the resetting process easier.
You can use both the Homeline and QO panels for your house.
If you have smaller appliances, use a Homeline breaker as it provides a 120-volt circuit, which will be enough for you.
But, if you run heavy-duty appliances, use QO panels.
You will need the 240-volt circuit to draw enough power without overloading or tripping.
As for industrial purposes, I recommend using only the QO panels instead of the Homeline panels.
Homeline and QO panels are the Square D breakers, and both are efficient in their ways. The QO panel is considered the best based on the differences between the Homeline and QO panels.
The main difference is their cost and the Visi-Trip indicator in the QO panel, which informs about the tripping. Besides this, QO panels have wider varieties and are more effective than the Homeline. Due to the QO panel’s variety of options, they are costlier than the Homeline.
So, it is worth it. You can use both for commercial and residential purposes. It depends on the appliance you have. Heavy-duty appliances will need QO panels, and lighter appliances will perform well in Homeline. Both the breakers have a limited lifetime.
How to know which Square D breaker I need?
Check your house’s power requirements. If you have high-powered appliances, use QO panels. Otherwise, Homeline will be enough.
Will Square D breakers go bad?
The average lifespan of the Square D breakers is 35 years. But regular wear and tear can reduce their lifespan to 2o to 25 years. You will notice issues like false tripping or resetting issues.
Reference: Square D Wikipedia