Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panels -(FPE Breakers)
In 2005, a judgment in New Jersey found Federal Pacific Electric guilty of fraudulent practices in relation to the FPE electrical panel. Residents of New Jersey who had the FPE breakers (also known as the FPE Stab Lok breaker) in their home were awarded limited damages. While this judgment was limited to New Jersey, the fpe panel is found in homes built all over the country, including the Palm Beach and Broward County areas of Florida. According to report written for the American Society of Home Inspectors, “From an electrical safety standpoint, the fraud has left homeowners and occupants with an increased risk of fire and injury. The defective performance of the FPE Stab-Lok ® breakers is not in actual compliance with the NEC or any other electrical safety code.” If you are in a home that was built between the 1950’s and the 1980’s, you might have one of these breakers. you should consider having them replaced.
The FPE Panel: Why is it dangerous?
When an electric wire has too much current flowing through it, the circuit breaker is designed to cut off the flow of electricity until it can be repaired. Circuit breakers have been instrumental in keeping homes safe from electrical fires. However, the FPE breakers, also known as the Stab Lok Breaker, have been shown to not cut off the electrical flow properly in repeated tests. For example, when tested for the first time, the FPE breaker failed a quarter of the time. Not only that, the breaker locked up, meaning that it would never be able to prevent an overload ever again. Even worse, if the current was doubled, FPE breakers failed over 80 percent of the time.
Another issue that is known about the FPE Electrical Panel is that the ones installed before 1970 were a split-bus system. This means that instead of having one main breaker, the panel is split into multiple parts. So instead of having one main “off” switch, there can be up to six. Why is this an issue? Considering that FPE breakers are already known to fail, as shown above, the split bus design means that there is not just one point of failure, but many. The Split bus breaker was banned in the 70s, but older houses still might contain them.
Client testimonial: I need to get help fast. My insurance company told me that my Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) panel was way out of date and recalled in 1982. I was going to lose my insurance coverage. They said they offered 24 hour emergency service and they came out and had me re-installed and certified within a day! I cant thank you enough.
Do you need to get your FPE Panel inspected?
The short answer is no. Inspections are only cursory tests of the equipment, such as turning them off and on, making sure the breakers are tightly attached, and looking for signs of scorching and overheating. However, this type of check cannot show what would happen during an actual overload. Paying for a full test of each breaker is a needless expense, because if they do fail (which has been shown to happen), you would have to completely replace them anyway.
Replacement of the FPE Electrical Panel
It is recommended that not only should you replace your FPE Stab Lok breaker, but you should replace it with a completely different brand. Tests have shown that not only are the old FPE breakers are dangerous, but the replacement parts of the same brand are equally shoddy. As a matter of fact, the FPE breakers don’t even meet the UL minimum safety requirements. UL is an independent, global scientific company that sets safety standards on electric equipment. Not only did their equipment not meet the UL standard, they knowingly falsified their UL listing, which is why the lawsuit in New Jersey was successful.
So the right course of action is to replace your FPE panel with another safer brand. Electric Panel Solutions is a fully licensed and insured electrician company serving Palm Beach and the Broward County area. We will come out and change your FPE breakers. Just give us a call to set up an appointment today.