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Federal Pacific Panel

Why should I replace my FPE Federal Pacific – Stab-Lok®?

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FPE Federal Pacific – Stab-Lok® panels were once a popular choice for builders and homeowners, but the lack of reliability of the breakers are serious safety concern and are now being recalled. So what do you do? Here we answer all the questions you have:

  1. Why should I replace my FPE Federal Pacific – Stab-Lok®
  2. Do I have to replace the whole panel, or just the breakers?
  3. How many homes have these defective FPE Stab-Lok® breakers?
  4. What do FPE Federal Pacific – Stab-Lok® breakers look like?
  5. How do I know if my Panel is a FPE Federal Pacific – Stab-Lok®?
  6. Will a FPE Stab-Lok® pass an inspection?
  7. Will a Federal Pacific Stab-Lok® panel affect my insurance?

What is involved in changing out my FPE Stab-Lok® panel?

Here’s why you should replace your Federal Pacific panel.

  • Breakers do not function properly when under load
  • The age of a FPE Stab-Lok® far exceeds the recommended life span of an electrical panel
  • The panel lacks the ability to safely and reliably supply the electrical needs of a modern home
  • The replacement components are increasingly difficult to obtain
  • Breakers were UL rated using fraudulent testing practices by FPE Stab-Lok® – resulting in the delisting of the UL rating

In 1981 CPSC initiated a specific investigation of FPE’s full-size two-pole Stab-Lok® breakers. The results clearly demonstrated that a significant number failed the UL standard tests, and that some would jam with the contacts closed on individual pole overcurrent conditions. There was no basis for disagreement by FPE/Reliance as to the nature of the defects.

In Canada, Federal Pioneer (Schneider Canada) manufactures Stab-Lok® circuit breakers and panels. A recall was announced (by Schneider and The Ontario New Home Warranty Program) of two of their15-Amp models manufactured between mid-1996 and mid-1997. The announcement states that “In some circumstances these breakers may not trip. … “If the circuit breaker does not perform as intended, there is potential for property damage and/or personal injury.”

 (Source Jesse Aronstein,  Ph.D., P.E. https://inspectapedia.com/fpe/FPE_Stab_Lok_Hazards.php)

So, Should your FPE Federal Pacific – Stab-Lok® breakers be replaced?

The presence of an FPE panel in a home should be classified as a “Safety Defect”. The FPE Stab-Lok® breakers are primary safety devices of questionable operating reliability.

FPE Federal Pacific – Stab-Lok® falsified it’s breaker testing thresholds and it was discovered after Exxon® acquired the company in the 80’s. The safety concern and delisting of CL and UL approval was because the breakers do not trip at the required 135% range. More so, some of them do not trip at all and remain open.

If there is a power surge or fault in the circuit, the breaker’s function is to stop certain electrical sequences that could, if allowed to proceed, lead to fire. If the breaker is defective, fire is more likely to result.

There is no question that the FPE Stab-Lok® panels should be replaced for this reason alone. To further the argument of replacement, most manufacturer recommendations are that a panel be upgraded every 25-30 years. This is to ensure up to date safety features and the panel functions properly with the ever changing electrical needs of a modern home.

How many homes have these defective FPE Stab-Lok® breaker?

We do not know for certain, Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE) Stab-Lok® breakers were manufactured and installed in millions of homes from the 1950’s to 1980’s. Being almost 40years since the last production these panels should be replaced for a model that is current in safety requirements and has the capacity to properly supply the increasing electrical needs of modern home.

FIGURE 1 – REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLES OF HALF- AND FULL-WIDTH
FPE STAB-LOK® CIRCUIT BREAKERS (left to right: 1/2-width double pole,
full-width double pole, 1/2-width single-pole, full width single-pole)
Note that the color and style of the handle varied over the years.

As these panels age, the ability to get parts to repair or maintain these panels correctly has become increasingly difficult. While we do not recommend maintenance or repair on the FPE Stab-Lok®, some electricians do. Caution – Only breakers of the same brand should be used in a panel. Mixing brands is against the Canadian Electrical Code and is not common practice.

Will a FPE Stab-Lok® pass an inspection?

Most electricians or electrical inspectors can only look at the breakers. Without doing live-current functional testing on all of the breakers, it is impossible to determine which of the breakers in the panel are defective.

Even with the proper yearly maintenance on your panel the life of the FPE Stab-Lok® as far exceeded its life span at this point in time. A good home inspector, with the best interest of his clients, will advise the panel be upgraded. The cost of testing a FPE Stab-Lok® breakers is far greater than the cost of having the panel replaced.

UL  (Underwriters Laboratories, Inc) certification, like the CSA, is an organization that provides consumers with peace of mind that the product meets safety requirements. Making it acceptable to use in a residential application. FPE Stab-Lok® had obtained its UL listed rating by using fraudulent testing practices.

In 2007 a larger sample test was completed on FPE Stab-Lok® breakers and included breakers from 28 homes across the country. This sample size was twice that of the original testing done in the 1978 investigation. The results firmly support the conclusion that virtually every FPE Stab-Lok® panel installed in homes today, contain circuit breakers that are seriously defective. In the interest of electrical and fire safety they should be replaced.

Will a Federal Pacific Stab-Lok® panel affect my insurance?

Like aluminum wiring, what was once common or accepted practice is no longer accepted. Damages caused by FPE Stab-Lok® breakers have cost insurance companies a lot of money. As such, most insurance companies will require the panel to be changed upon renewal of the insurance or when the home exchanges owners.

As the FPE Stab-Lok® no longer carry a safety rating from any regulatory board, most electricians and home inspectors with fail this on an inspection. In turn, your insurance company may require this to be changed before issuing/renewing a policy.

What is involved in changing out my FPE Stab-Lok® panel?

Your electrical panel is the heart of your home and is just as complicated, so what is needed to replace a panel in Calgary:

1) A City of Calgary electrical permit

2) Scheduling an inspection and book with Enmax

3) Making sure the current panel location is to code

4) Determining the size of the panel needed

5) Confirming if the electrical mast and meterbase need to be replaced?

For more detailed information please see: https://247electriccalgary.com/panel-replacement/

If you inspected your own home and found that it had the FPE Stab-Lok® breakers how long would it be before you had it corrected? Would you sleep tight without it being corrected? The FPE Stab-Lok® breakers are primary safety devices and have questionable operating reliability.

We urge you to have your home’s electrical system inspected by a qualified electrician to determine if your FPE circuit breaker panel needs to be replaced. If it does, we strongly recommend that you replace the entire panel, not just the individual breakers. This is because all of the breakers in an FPE panel are connected to each other and share a common design flaw. Installing new breakers in an old FPE panel will not correct the problem.

(Source Jesse Aronstein,  Ph.D., P.E. https://inspectapedia.com/fpe/FPE_Stab_Lok_Hazards.php)

Contact Us Today

Why Replacement?

Here’s why you should replace your Federal Pacific panel.

  • Breakers do not function properly when under load
  • The age of a FPE Stab-Lok® far exceeds the recommended life span of an
  • electrical panel
  • The panel lacks the ability to safely and reliably supply the electrical needs of a modern home
  • The replacement components are increasingly difficult to obtain
  • Breakers were UL rated using fraudulent testing practices by FPE Stab-Lok® – resulting in the delisting of the UL rating

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