A Federal Pacific question

Hi Guys,

Saw this on an inspection done by my sub. No other photos other than what’s shown.

Not being an electrician by trade, I have two questions specific to a Federal Pacific breaker in a separate enclosure as shown. I have seen this a few times and write it with typical Federal Pacific language.

First question is what do I call this box, an enclosure, sub panel, or something else?

The second question, is this individual breaker a Stab Lok breaker and subject to the same Federal Pacific issues as the Stab Lok panels and breakers, or is this one something else, safety?

Just want to confirm what you guys write when you see this.

Technically, it’s both a Disconnect and a Sub-panel.
Does it serve a single appliance, such as a Water Heater, or an entire circuit?
IMO, if a single appliance, I consider it the Disconnect. If a cull circuit for multiple items, a Sub-panel.

As I don’t report defects due to “Brand Names” alone, I would defer it to an Electrician for full evaluation and repairs/replacement as deemed necessary by the Electrican… ONLY if I personally have observed conditions with the component that may be a safety issue or cause adverse conditions when in operation.

Note: I very rarely have seen issues with ANY disconnect beyond poor workmanship or degradation from old age, rust, critters, etc.

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I agree with what Jeffrey said, except for me, a few brands like FPE Stab-Lok trigger an automatic “defect” with me.
Your photo may not be a Stab-Lok since it does not have “Stab-Lok” on the label. Most of FPE panels are Stab-Lok design, but not all and the FPE boxes that are not Stab-Lok are not known to have a design problem. BTW, I pull those covers off to see if there is any mischief inside.


Thanks Jeff, report was modified for electrician evaluation, however, I do write FP Stab Lok panels by name, also Pushmatics when I run across them.


Thanks, my understanding is consistent with your response.

It’s just a fused disconnect, except with breakers!

Federal Pacifics main problem was they cheated on component testing and certification. Subsequent independent testing found that many of their breakers simply failed to trip thereby providing absolutely no protection. All FP installations receive this notation from me.

Stab-lock was a separate issue with a poor bus bar to breaker connection prone to overheating and fire.

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I agree with @jjonas that it could be considered a sub-panel and or a disconnect, IMO you’d be correct describing it as either.

Whenever I see an FPE panel, whether it’s functioning as a distribution panel, disconnect, or a sub-panel, I write it up as a potential fire hazard.

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Just to be clear… note the (now) bolded word…

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Just to be crystal clear. Not reporting obsolete electrical components by brand names alone, could be overlooking a serious defect. It is your responsibility to inform your client. Don’t omit information they should know.


I write-up FP, Zinsco, Pushmatic as defects because: 1) they have known issues (and I do not want that liability hanging over me), 2) they are very old, typically, and 3) insurance companies don’t want to insure them. The insurance companies definitely go by brand name and age. If my client may have problems getting insured or the insurance company is apt to raise their rates, then it is something not to dismiss lightly.

Are FPE breakers a defect?

A report filed in 1982 with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) by the parent company of Brand X states that the manufacturer had obtained its NRTL listings by “… deceptive and improper practices,” and states that most of the company’s circuit protective products lost their NRTL listing after the improper practices were discontinued [18]. That report, submitted to the SEC more than 2 years after the deceit was first revealed, also states that, “The company is in the process of correcting product deficiencies in order to regain the lost listings….” Clearly, the breaker design and manufacturing problems that had to be solved to comply with the UL489 requirements were not trivial.


The estimated cumulative total fire losses since the brand’s performance problems became known is about equal to the 40-year sum of the annual losses previously noted. The result is more than 100 000 residential fires associated with the defective performance of the Brand X breakers during that time, with at least 500 fatalities, 4000 injuries, and $1.6 billion in property damage.

Oh yes, the worst FPE breakers per the tests: double ones like you pictured (stab lock or not). They do have a vintage though: certain years were better.

Note the panel in the OP is likely not a stab-lock, but is an FPE.