Federal Pacific circuit panels potential fire hazard.

On a recent home inspection in Vista, Ca I came across a Federal Pacific Stab-Lok circuit panel with evidence of overheating. We wrote a blog entry to help homeowners learn more about Federal Pacific circuit panels and the potential dangers involved. To read more, click here.

Well done Keith, very informative. Thanks.


With all due respect…the melting and overheating of the grounded (neutral) conductor more than likely is less about the FPE and more about improper termination of multi-wire branch circuits or some other issue.

If the issue was the overloaded or overheating due to the FPE (which can happen in any panel mind you) then where is the evidence of the ungrounded (hot) conductor also being overheated and resulting in an insulation breakdown.

The issue you express is and could be evident in ANY of the manufacturers electrical panel enclosures. Just because it is an FPE product does not provide a death sentence to the existing acceptable use of a product. However, the evaluation of the issues on the conductor is warranted and the mention of the FPE should take a back seat to that obvious issue.

Granted now…I did not read the entire article but it does serve to make note that again just because a panel is an FPE and they did have some issues in a single class action suit…in New Jersey no less, it does not mean it must be replaced and it was never part of an official recall.

There are many options available to the consumer from replacement of smaller single pole devices with newer replacement devices that underwent proper UL scrutiny to total upgrade if that is the desire of the homeowner.

As for the insurance companies…as an HI that is not my issue or concern. The homeowner can work that out between themselves, I don’t have an issue with mentioning that it is an FPE but in the case of your example that could easily been an Eaton, Schneider or GE panel with the same possible issue.

FYI- I am not ranting and I am not attacking my friend. I am just giving you an opinion to which you can reject and substitute your own belief or you can understand it and accept it as fact. Either way I have given my opinion.

Best of luck and God Bless.

OH…it is also important to read the RED note that was updated by the CPSC

I read it and it just plays on peoples fear over a burnt neutral.

I agree with Paul.


And the misinformation once again gets propagated.

Not good.


Can you please point out how the unique design of the Stab-lok had any bearing on the burned neutral? As the others said, this is not just a problem with FPE. I would have expected the hot spot to be on the end of the wire, not as shown.

Breakers are designed to limit overcurrents, not surges.

When I have my contractor hat on I have come across places where 14/3 was run into a kitchen powering 2 high usage plugs. The result was a discoloured neutral from the extra current draw. Both non-grounded wires showed no signs of overheating, neither did the breakers. It is now a requirement that all kitchen circuits be 12/2 and on their own circuit. Pretty well common sense if you figure each circuit has the potential to draw upwards of 15 amps before tripping breakers meaning the neutral on that 14/3 could be experiancing a potential 30 amp load. I personally haven’t come across any electrical panels that had burnt or scortched wiring not caused by overloads down stream of the panel. But I am still fairly new in the inspection end of things.

Replace.Replace.Only advice a Pro will give .

Very good. I agree with you and disagree with Paul and others. The reason why I disagree with them is because a simple Google search by anyone brings up all sorts of articles about the problematic FPE panels, and every electrician I know here in Southern California summarily recommends replacing them. Thus, if I don’t bring that information to a Client’s attention,
and lets say he decides to add on to the house and upgrade the electric panel, and the electrician asks him if he had a home inspection,
and he says yes,
and the electrician asks him what his home inspector said about the electric panel,
and he says “Nothing,”
and the electrician explains the problems,
and he does a Google search,
I think the Client is going to want the home inspector to pay a little money for the upgrade. JMHO.

If the two 15 amps circuits are properly wired the current on the neutral will never exceed 15 amps. Incorrectly wired MWBC’s can be a problem because of the additive value of the neutral current.

Strange how we get so many(. JMHO ) openions why not post facts to back up your Humble opinion .
Facts are shown here that disagree with your Humble opinion .
Where are the court cases backing up your post.

.I think the Client is going to want the home inspector to pay a little money for the upgrade. JMHO

Keith also posted this in a facebook forum.

I mentioned this to him:
You have some contradictory verbiage: “Federal Pacific circuit breakers are a potential fire risk. Although they are a fire risk”

The picture shown has nothing to do with the design of the FPE panel.

I did a search on unicorns and got 26 million results. That does not mean they exist anymore than all the listings about FPE being accurate.The blog entry in this thread is but one example. If the FPE design is so dangerous, could you please state why they are still a commonly used in Canada?


If the two 15 amps circuits are properly wired the current on the neutral will never exceed 15 amps. Incorrectly wired MWBC’s can be a problem because of the additive value of the neutral current and can occur in any brand of panel.

If it’s on the Internet, it must be true. I have mailed you a check for my pink unicorn. Please have it delivered to my home address…


Didn’t you see the news?

Canada just about burned down last week!!

Maybe one of those FPE’s started the whole thing :|.)

Any why do you think a “simple” google search would say anything else? Based on the propagation of misleading information and peoples erroneous elaboration of facts they know nothing about will always proliferate the internet. FYI- We never made it to the Moon either…its a conspiracy I tell you.

Paul joking aside do you take full responsibility in telling all Inspectors here to ignore all the information out there and simply say nothing about the brand in reports ?

Look forward to your reply .