Electrical Panels

Does Your Home (Or a loved one’s) Contain Federal Pacific Electrical Panels? If So, Your Safety is at Risk!

What is a Federal Pacific Electric Panel?

Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE) was one of the most common manufacturers of circuit breaker panels in North America from the 1950s to the 1990s. If your home was built during this time and is equipped with a Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) circuit breaker panel with Stab-Lok circuit breakers, you run a significant risk of breaker malfunction and fire.

Millions of FPE panels were installed in homes across the United States. During the last 50 years, electricians and home inspectors often found Federal Pacific Electric panels failed to provide proper protection to homeowners and their families. Experts now say FPE panels can appear to work fine for years, until one overcurrent or short circuit, then the panels can overheat and become fire hazards.

The breakers inside the panel are designed to guard your home by preventing circuit overload, short circuits and outside power surges coming into the panel. When an overload occurs, a breaker protects you by tripping, thus shutting down the power to the circuit.

When a breaker fails to trip, an extreme amount of power from the outside electrical supply surges into the panel and circuits. The volume of electricity can cause the wires to melt and the panel can to overheat and catch fire. Sadly, there have been thousands of documented home fires due to FPE panels and breakers not working properly.

The frightening danger is many Federal Pacific Electric panels and breakers can work properly for years before a sudden fail and malfunction, potentially causing a disaster.

It’s worth mentioning if you have a family member or neighbor living in an older home, you should alert them to this risk and offer to check the manufacturer of their panel based on this information.

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Why is a Federal Pacific Panel dangerous?

Multiple tests done on FPE breakers since the 1980s have proven 25% of Stab-Lok breakers are defective and will not properly trip off. Federal Pacific Electric was found to have committed testing fraud and a cover-up, labeling the breakers as meeting the standards set by the UL when in reality, they were defective. As a result, the company has been out of business for years.

In 1983, the Consumer Product Safety Commission closed its two-year investigation after deciding it was impossible to create a product recall issue because of budget issues, even though FPE panels and breakers were installed in millions of home and to this day run risk of an electrical fire. Sadly, an estimated 2,800 fires each year directly result from Federal Pacific panel breaker malfunction.

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3 Major Problems with a Federal Pacific Panel

1. FPE panels may not meet today’s updated safety codes.
Wires may be crowded inside the panel box, bus bars may be spring-mounted, breakers may still be active when in the down position and split-bus breakers no longer meet updated safety codes.

2. FPE panels have significant design flaws.
Breakers may unexpectedly trip when the dead front cover is removed, breakers may have loose connections to the bus bars, breakers are often jammed within their sockets, which can cause overcrowding in the panel, and breakers can easily split when placed into sockets.

3. FPE panels may have manufacturing defects.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that FPE panels may be unfit for homes, and the materials to construct the breakers may be weak.

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