The History of GE Low-Voltage Circuit Breakers

In 1945, after the war, GE sold the first resettable fuse — a circuit breaker. The first GE circuit breakers were large and heavy. They were mounted on slate. Their dashpot trip units were revolutionary at the time but very unreliable as time passed. The 600-amp GE circuit breaker was called the AE-1-25. The 1600-amp breaker was the AL-2-50, followed by the 3000-amp AL-2-75 and the 4000-amp Al-2-100.

In 1955 circuit breakers got smaller and faster. That’s when GE introduced the AK line of circuit breakers. AK circuit breakers were smaller, lighter, and more reliable than earlier GE breakers. They featured electromechanical trip units and glastic pole bases. GE made AK circuit breakers for several generations over the next 30 years. The 600-amp GE breakers were the AK-1-25, AK-2-25, AK-2A-25, AK-3A-35, AK-4A-25, AK-5A-25, and AK-6A-25. The 1600-amp breakers were the AK-1-50, AK-2-50, AK-2A-50, AK-2A-50S, AK-3A-50, AK-4A-50, AK-5A-50, and AK-6A-50. GE also introduced the AKT-2-50, with a 2000-amp frame size. In 3000-amp sizes were the AK-1-75, AK-2-75, AK-2A-75, AK-3A-75, AK-4A-75, and AK-5A-75. The largest circuit breakers GE made during the 1955–1986 time period were the AK-1-100, AK-2-100, AK-2A-100, AK-3A-100, and AK-4A-100.

Around 1985 GE introduced the AKR line of circuit breakers. This was a major design change and led to AKR circuit breakers being able to communicate information back to a central PC. There were several variations on the AKR line of circuit breakers, mostly upgrading the solid state trip units and changing the racking mechanisms. Major types were as follows: AKR-5A-30, AKR-5B-30, AKR-6D-30, AKR-7D-30, AKR-8D-30, AKR-9D-30, and AKR-10D-30. High-interrupting models always had an H at the end of the designation, such as AKR-7D-30H. The 1600-amp breakers were the AKR-5A-50, AKR-5B-50, AKR-5D-50, AKR-6D-50, AKR-7D-50, AKR-8D-50, AKR-9D-50, and AKR-10D-50. Fused models were designated AKRU, such as the fused 1600-amp air breaker AKRU-6D-50. Low-voltage power circuit breakers in the 3000-amp frame size were the AKR-5A-75, AKR-5C-75, AKR-5B-75, AKR-6D-75, AKR-7D-75, AKR-8D-75, and AKR-9D-75. The 4000-amp frame size followed a similar pattern, with the designations AKR-5A-100, AKR-5B-100, AKR-6D-100, AKR-7D-100, and AKR-7F-100.

The AKR low-voltage air circuit breaker line was very popular and reliable. The current GE line of circuit breakers is called Wavepro. It brings a completely new technology to circuit breakers.