You’ve likely heard the term Federal Pacific Panels several times and each time, it’s probably been mentioned alongside words like unsafe, dangerous, replace, and so on. There’s a good reason why Federal Pacific Panels in modern homes are never good news. We have put all you need to know in this article.
Federal Pacific Panels are also called Federal Pacific Electrical breaker box or FPE Stab-Lok breakers. They refer to a brand of panels made by the Federal Pacific Electrical company.
Millions of these panels were sold in North America between the 1950s and the 1980s. But soon, experts discovered that the panels were defective.
The story behind FPE panels
In the 1950s up to the 1980s, the FPE panels were popular for being affordable and easy to install. They sold to millions of homes and even gained the Stab-Lok name because of their functionality.
Soon, officials noticed a pattern of house fires in homes using the FPE panels, and they launched an investigation to find the problem.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was in charge of the investigation and they first discovered that the panel was made with sub-standard materials. However, the CPSC had to stop the investigation because of a lack of funding, and FPE panels continued to be installed in even more homes.
Independent companies took up the investigation, and they uncovered more and more problems with the panels. The verdict was clear, FPE panels had a high rate of failure and posed safety hazards to homes.
Why FPE Panels are so dangerous
During a Class Action lawsuit, the New Jersey State Court ruled that Federal Pacific Electrical, “violated the Consumer Fraud Act because FPE knowingly and purposefully distributed circuit breakers which were not tested to meet UL standards…”
The problems found with the electrical panel includes;
- Overcrowded wires
- Misleading switch labels make it hard to tell if circuit breakers were on or off.
- The bus bars in the panels are spring mounted and this can lead to connection problems.
- The circuit breakers often trip when removing the dead front covers.
- As a result of some easily damaged components in the panel, the connections between the bus bars and circuit breakers are often loose.
- The panels have design flaws, manufacturing defects, and are not up to code.
- The needs of homes have increased and FPE panels are not designed to manage these high levels of electricity.
These and more make FPE panels susceptible to catching fire and not performing optimally.
How to identify an FPE panel
- If you live in an old home, that’s been around since the 1950s or 1980s, you may have a Federal Pacific Electrical panel.
- Check the panel for a Stab-Lok label or circuit breakers with a red strip across.
- The Federal Pacific Electric name may be written across the front of the panel.
It’s always best to replace an outdated Federal Pacific Electrical panel in your home. A licensed electrician can do this replacement. Don’t hesitate or risk anything more with an installed FPE panel.