Federal electric panels?

In a home inspection, is a federal electric panel it’s self a automatic defect? Or something the home owner should have evaluated?

If You are talking about federal Pacific stab-Lok panels, I recommend replacement…no real need for further evaluation…


I did what Jim said.^^^


Federal Pacific Electric stab lok design, bad mojo, what Jim said.


Haven’t come across one yet.Just kinda curious about what to do if I see one.

Here is what I would do. ^^^

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Goes for any of the Federal panels, same thing: Federal Electric, Federal Pacific, Reliance Electric Company, Federal Pacific Electric Company, Stab-Lock, NoArk, Federal NoArk, Federal Pioneer, Reliance Electric, New REC Company, etc.

Same goes for modern (still sold) Challenger replacement breakers. It’s frankly better to get old ones on eBay than the new ones, if a single breaker gets replaced.


The DOUBLE POLE breakers with SHARED NEUTRAL are the worst.


But don’t assume just because you say something, that anything will be done.


There are numerous threads on this. And one thing that comes up is you do have to be careful about your wording, or you may get some push back because The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission claims they are not dangerous.

City/State code inspectors won’t make people change them. And a seller can challenge your findings based on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission claim, and the fact that there has NEVER been a recall on these panels.

So while I mark them as red, I always present both sides:


That’s absolutely not true. Read it direct from the CSPC

They literally say “CPSC staff advises electricians, homeowners, home inspectors and real estate agents to read and interpret the following press release carefully.”.

Private test results

As it sits the FPE panel is not dangerous but as a safety device it is. Think of it as a seatbelt or smoke detector. They are supposed to respond in a certain way when needed and the FPE panels fail that test at a rate that is outside of what most people would consider acceptable.

As a home inspector encountering a FPE panel you are well within any SOPs I’ve ever seen to leave it out of your report but it’s more a “standard of care” thing. Meaning, most inspectors within the industry are aware of the elevated risks and write them up as hazardous.

All this being said, I’m always curious - does anyone have firsthand knowledge of fire due to a FPE panel? As in, has it happened to you or even someone you know? Meaning a fire or melted circuit, etc.? I know it does happen but even the the elevated risk it’s rare.

This reminds me of my talking point with aluminum wiring. The stats you’ll find vary but in general a house with aluminum branch circuit wiring is 50X more likely to have a fire. Sounds scary right? So, instead of 1 in a million it’s 50 in a million? Still pretty unlikely.

Of course as an inspector I write up FPE panels and aluminum wiring but I don’t scream and yell in the driveway and tell people they are going to die in the house. I’d happily put my family in a house with aluminum wiring and an FPE panel with good smoke detectors before I’d put them in a copper wired house with a Square D panel without detectors.

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I always call out for further evaluation on Federal Pacific (FPE) electrical service or distribution panel even if there are no other visible defects within the panel. I usually add a comment like this …

“At time of the inspection there was a Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) electrical (service or distribution) panel installed at this residence. There are studies that show that some Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) circuit breakers are prone to problems that can lead to failures, lack of proper protection of circuits and other serious issues, including fire and electrocution. Although the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has not issued a formal product recall we cannot definitively call this panel defective. Due to the safety concerns associated with this panel our recommendations are for further evaluation from a qualified electrical contractor as to the safety, integrity and performance of this electric panel and any upgrades or repairs that may be needed.”

Thank you very much.

Does anybody care that there was never a recall on these load centers?

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There was never a recall 'cause the CPSC ran out of budget money to go any further



Do you call out other very old panels?

I mention the issue and provide a link to info.

Let the client know.

Let the cowboys shoot from the hip.

I provide info, but recommend replacement.


OK cowboy uggh

I’m not that but it’s OK Mikey :cowboy_hat_face:

Not picking on you but “recommending replacement”?

There is no end to where that can be applied.

Yes, I recommend replacement of FPE Stab-Lok panels.
Ends right there for me… … … … … … …