Are Challenger residential Panels Dangerous?

I have seen so many articles stating Challenger panels are not safe and you will be at risk of an electrical fire. These articles will usually focus on Zinsco and Federal Pacific Circuit Breakers in the Challenger Panels. These articles that state the challenger panels should be replaced with a New Panel are not true in many cases.

The Most Common Challenger Plug-in Residential Circuit Breaker is Type C. Although the Challenger style is obsolete, Eaton has them Available with the Challenger Part Number with the UL tag so there will not be a problem with an inspector. Circuit Breakers in your panel should be manufactured by the same manufacture as the panel itself. If you have a Challenger panel, the Breakers are supposed to be Challenger.

All of the circuit breakers in the images are available New and are approved to install in the Challenger panels

What can be done if the Circuit Breakers are obsolete, Can I use an interchangeable Circuit Breakers? Eaton Type BR is approved in Challenger Panels as long as the part number is on the breaker. Older versions of the BR do not.

[If you look at the picture of the four different Circuit Breakers used in the Challenger Panels,]


you can see just offering the type C may be incorrect. This is why we ask for more information or pictures prior to taking orders. Most people do not have the expertise necessary to do this.

Challenger also used FPE and Zinsco Circuit Breakers in many Residential Panels and these are the ones that have had trouble according to many experts.

The Zinsco Style may be labeled as Zinsco, Challenger or Sylvaina. The full size is type Q and the two ploes are type QC. The half Size is R38 for 1 poles and RC38 for 2 poles. The full part number is either Q for 1 Poles and QC for 2 Poles. For 1 Poles the part number is Q and then the amperage (Q 20 ) and the two poles are QC and then the Amperage (QC 20 ). For Half size 2- 1 poles is R38-20 for 2- 20 amps (R38- 20 ) and RC38-20 for a 2 Pole 20 amp (rc38- 20 )

The Federal Pacific Style is type NA for full Size and NC for half size. to order these these full size 20 amp 1 pole is NA and then the amperage NA 20 and the half size is NC 20 . 2 Poles are a little different, For full size it is NA then the number of poles and then the Amperage NA 220 and half size is NC 220

The Challenger Style is Type C is the full size and the half size with the hook (left ot right side) is Type A. To order these, the full part number is either C or A, then the number of Poles and then the Amperage so for a full size 20 amp 1 pole, it is C1 20 or A1 20(R or L) add R or L suffix to identify what side you need the hook to be on. R for right side and L for left side.I have seen so many articles stating Challenger panels are not safe and you will be at risk of an electrical fire. These articles will usually focus on Zinsco and Federal Pacific Circuit Breakers in the Challenger Panels. These articles that state the challenger panels should be replaced with a New Panel are not true in many cases.

The Most Common Challenger Plug-in Residential Circuit Breaker is Type C. Although the Challenger style is obsolete, Eaton has them Available with the Challenger Part Number with the UL tag so there will not be a problem with an inspector. Circuit Breakers in your panel should be manufactured by the same manufacture as the panel itself. If you have a Challenger panel, the Breakers are supposed to be Challenger.

All of the circuit breakers in the images are available New and are approved to install in the Challenger panels

Popular in the 80s and 90s, Challenger breaker panels started facing constant recalls in 1988 , and roughly 9,000 older homes still have these recalled Challenger parts. So to answer the question, Are Challenger Panels Dangerous, they are recalled for a reason.

The challenger panels with the type C Circuit Breakers were not recalled.
image

I do not know if there was trouble with the half size (Type A) with the right and left hooks.

The ones with federal pacific and Zinsco breakers were a problem… FPE Breakers are the only ones we tested that did not trip. The Zinsco type had alot of problems with the Bus burning. Unless you have the newer challenger with the Type C.

Afternoon, Joe.

The Most Common Challenger Plug-in Residential Circuit Breaker is Type C molded case OCPD.
1: Challenger style is obsolete.
Eaton has them Available with the Challenger Part Number with the UL tag so there will not be a problem with an inspector.
*Note: Circuit Breakers in your panel should be manufactured by the same manufacture as the panel itself. If you have a Challenger panel, the Breakers are supposed to be Challenger.
Note what you observed, Obsolete vintage OCPD. Identify Replacement breakers, when you can, any breakers older than 30 - 40 years. That would be pre-1991. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the lifespan of electrical breakers is typically between 30-40 years .