Federal Pacific panels

Would like opinions on Federal Pacific electrical panels . We are aware of the safety issues, however, realtors continue to confuse clients that these panels are fine.
Please give us your thoughts.


I recommend review by a qualified electrician and inform clients a replacement will most likely be the end result.

There’s plenty of debate on the subject but the failure rates were tested and documented. Just don’t confuse all FPE panels for the stab-lok types.

•“Status Report - Evaluation of Residential Molded Case Circuit Breakers”, Wright-Malta Corp., (For U.S. Consumer product Safety Commission, Project# CPSC-C-81-1455), (Contains analysis of mechanism of failure of FPE two-pole Stab-Lock breakers.)
•“Failure Analysis of Residential Circuit Breaker Panel”, Wright-Malta Corp., (For U.S. Consumer product Safety Commission, Project #CPSC-C-81-1455), May 20, 1982 (Contains failure analysis of FPE Stab-Lock panel that ignited due to failure of buss-bar interconnections in the backside of the panel.)
•“Phase II Report, Evaluation of Residential Molded Case Circuit Breakers”, Wright-Malta Corp., (For U.S. Consumer product Safety Commission, Project# CPSC-C-81-1455), March 10, 1984 (Contains experimental analysis of materials, construction, and performance of molded case circuit breakers, including FPE. Lack of corrosion resistance of certain internal parts is considered to be a factor in the failure of the circuit breakers.)
•“Final Report: Calibration and Condition Tests of Molded Case Circuit Breakers,” Wright-Malta Corp., (For U.S. Consumer product Safety Commission, Project #CPSC-C-81-1429), (Extensive calibration and functional testing of FPE breakers. Substantial percent failures to trip on overload).

Ask the Realtor to put that in writing. If the panel ever has an issue then it can be their responsiblity.

Just ask the realtor to show their electrical license…


It is very possible that they are fine. Did you evaluate the panel or just comdem it due to its name?

Because of the name, I recommend evaluation and replacement of EVERY FPE/Stabelock panel I come across. They have a much higher rate of failure.

An electrician told me once, he once took a hot feed wire that should have been breaker protected, and was able to “weld” his name into a piece of steel. The breaker never tripped.

Good story Michael!You just keep those panels on the other side of the bridge please.:slight_smile:
I also call out all FPE stabloc.

Completely unwarranted.

You electrician’s story is just that - a story. I can give similar examples of issues with any panel brand.

I had an electrician tell me about some beach front property he had for sale in Tenn. Just as your electrician he was telling something untrue.

The conductor would burn up before he welded his name so I think he told a lie.

It is okay to call for more evaluation but replacement is going a little far.

The National Association of Realtors make all agents sign a form when they join, that they will provide the best services for their clients.

They do not.

It is very amazing that inspectors service the whim of the agents, and not stand by what they say. Stand up for yourself. You are the professional here. Talk, explain, get paid like it.

I write them all up, and recommend replacement. What the client and his/her agent does after I have been paid, and gone, is their problem.

The last statement of this post sounds pretty closed minded. I agree that a HI should make their own decisions and they should stand by their beliefs as long as their beliefs are founded on fact at hand and not an all-encompassing statement that all should be replaced.

Evaluate each on its own merit and on the facts found at the time of the evaluation and see if this doesn’t work out better than taking a lot of unfounded statements and applying them just on the name associated with a product.

I have been in the electrical trade for many years and have found overcurrent devices of all names that did not conform to the standards set forth by the NRTL that had them listed. Based on this I think that the use of all breakers should be called out as a defect. Didn’t that sound a little off base or funny? The same can be said about a HI that is only looking to get paid and then be out of the picture.

Square “D” had a big recall of their Arc Fault breakers a few years ago. Does this mean that when a HI sees these breakers they should call them out for replacement? Based on what is going around on the internet about some panels I would say so.

I agree that any HI should cover their butts when making an evaluation of a home but I think they should also not make their butt look like a silly one when doing so. The sad part is there are many that do just this.

Every time I see the square D AFCIs with the blue reset button, I report it if it is one of the recalled devices.

Doesn’t everyone?

If they don’t they should!
It is not our call as to what is propagated on the Internet as false. We also don’t tell them they have to be removed only make the recommendation to be evaluated by a Licensed Electrician.
Add the CPSC website and let them decide.

A sample of the testing results below. Testing of an FPE panel is outside the scope of the inspection. Looking at an FPE provides no evaluation of it’s working condition. The history of any one panel is unknown to an inspector.

Someone please post any other information which:

  1. Documents the testing of other panels which show a similar failure rate and therefore we will know it is an industry standard. or…
  2. Documents of testing of FPE panels which overrules current studies and shows the panels do not have documented issues.
  3. Anything else concrete other than an opinion posted on a forum.

Give us all some kind of evidence which we can rely on. Saying “everything is okay” or just telling us to not call them all out doesn’t help a home inspector.

Not if it works form the test button. Why should I if it works?

One test on “two pole breakers” does not cover all breakers does it?



Perhaps you missed the word “excerpt”.

Don’t start an argument, just post something concrete that we can all use. I cannot tell my clients “it’s okay because Joseph Whitt says so.”

Why not? I will stand behind you That way when they start swinging i will be protected by you

Not addresse to you but to everyone.

When I see an old panel I address that installation from the fact that the installation is old and do not look at the manufacture name on the equipment to form an opinion.

I am experienced enough to know that some of the panels mentioned in this thread are old panels but there are no difference between them and any other panel from the same time era. Treat the all the same not by a name.

To just call out a panel for replacement due to the brand name and not address the other panels from the same time era in the same manner is showing a lack of knowledge of what someone is talking about.

It wouldn’t matter if it was a Westinghouse, General Electric, Crouse Hines, or what the name on the panel was if it is old then it is old. If it came from the same time era then the way that they function will be the same no matter what the brand name is on the front of the panel.

If I was going to call out Zinsco or FPE for replacement I would call out every panel that was from the same time era for replacement. If I was going to use this approach I would say that every fuse panel installed would need replacing. Anyone that knows the trip curves of overcurrent devices knows that a fuse will open a lot faster than any breaker on the market for home installations so are they dangerous also?

Is there reason for concern when one runs into one of these old panels? Yes, and I agree that more evaluation is needed but to just call out for replacement is a little strong in my professional opinion.
As an example I just finished doing an evaluation on a home that was built in the early 1960s and I recommended that a complete rewire of the house be done. I did not make this recommendation due to the brand name of anything in the home but due to the age and condition of the system. The service panel was fairly new but damaged.
Upon the completion of my evaluation I was asked if the items that had been pointed out in the HI inspection report would be enough to make the system safe. My answer was and is copied and pasted here, “although the Home Inspector did a thorough job in his evaluation it is my professional opinion that hidden issues unknown to the Home Inspector needs to be addressed. I found issues with several of the branch circuits that needs attention and to address these issues will require that the wall be opened.”
I had a list of problems I found in switch legs as well as in the kitchen circuits that was supplying the kitchen receptacles. This house had been remodeled a couple of times over the years and God only knows what will be found. By the way there was no record of the remodels found at the inspection department although the tax office had this four bedroom house listed as a two bedroom house.

[FONT=Calibri][FONT=Times New Roman]I spend a lot of time reading publications from IEEE about circuit breakers and if anyone wants to take the time to look them up one will find that even as I strike the keys of this keyboard circuit breakers are undergoing revaluation. By the time my bones are turned to dust the breakers of today will be obsolete. [/FONT][/FONT]

Read that recall closely and you will see that not all of them fail. The recall was made because a portion failed.
If they work there is no need for them to be replaced. I would replace one that didn’t work but if it works then why replace it?