Federal Pacific


What do i need to know about Federal Pacific panel? Should I recommend to the client to have it replace right away?

Many thanks,


Here is some reading for you.



Also read this once you read all the other links Michael also posted…Get all the knowledge you can on the subject in order to make a good situation evaluation of each system viewed on it’s own merit’s…

Gerald- get ready to butt heads on this one. If you call it out, the seller will almost certainly find an electrical contractor to say its ok. Most municipal inspectors will say it’s a-ok because they hang their hat on the UL listing and nothing much more. (by the way- I agree with them for doing so)

This IS a real problem. I have personal experience, time and time again, of FPE breakers failing to trip.

This is definitely one of those areas where the HI has to do the hard thing. Read the links that Paul posted. Its all true, or at least credible, and now you know it. You have to call it out. Just get ready to stand by your expertise. There are many boiler plate FPE call outs floating around this place.

Thing is, you cannot inspect a breaker and determine that it will trip under load… unless of course you carry a large carbon pile resistor to your inspections, along with a larger insurance policy!

Actually even I call out FPE panels to the point that I always suggest they evaluate the different between upgrading the breakers to the newer replacement models that have been UL tested…and way the costs of the service upgrade.

Many times in older FPE panels the panel itself looks fine…while I dont like the stablocs on the certain FPE brands…I have seen some that look quite nice and clear, no signs of heat build up and no reall LOOSE breakers that I would be concerned about…However, I do get concerned over the breakers themselves because I have done my OWN tests on some FPE’s while in a clients home doing a Home Inspection myself…

I have asked the client to ALLOW me to short out some circuits and so on and lets see if the breakers trip…95% of them I do this with will not trip…so I agree they should be evaluated by a licensed electrical contractor who KNOWS what they are dealing with…you would be surprised many don’t as newer electricians come on board in our industry they probably have not seen any FPE’s before…thats normal…

The whole picture needs to be taken into consideration when looking at FPE panels and Zinsco’s for that matter…you have to apply all the pieces and conditions involved and by all means nothing wrong with defering that brand as their are known issues…I just happen to feel HI’s should learn the choices the client has…so when they are speaking with client they can educate them on them rather than offering a blanket statement.

Just my opinions…again who am I…just a normal guy

well you can…now with this device :http://www.koinstruments.com/

But alas…we already know FPE breakers have issues…better to give them the options…and allow an expert to take the ball from their to defer issues…a GOOD electrician will not offer a blanket statement as well…they will look at the panel enclosure, look for weak and loose breakers and HOPEFULLY know the options the client can take…

Lets face it…if it is a FPE and the stabloc looks neat and no signs of problems…frankly chances are it may be a panel with only 12-15 breakers in it…cheaper maybe to replace them with newer UL models and be safer on the TRIP part…versus replacement of the whole panel…I simply can’t make that call without seeing it…


you would be surprised many don’t as newer electricians come on board in our industry they probably have not seen any FPE’s before…thats normal…

Electricians are the hard sell. Even though they stand to make some bucks off the deal. I for one, resisted the FPE issue for a while. As a municipal inspector, I had put all my marbles in the UL listing. If its not recalled- then its ok. As a licensed Electrical Contractor, I personally installed hundreds of FPE stablocks through the eighties. After doing my own testing and research, I have certainly lost more than one night’s sleep over it.

Bottom line- as an HI, you cannot tell if a breaker is defective. Heat marks etc, only tell you that it had failed in the past. A breaker is really never tested until it is called into service. Call it out. All of them.

Ahh…I think that is what I was saying…I think now anyway…lol

Basically we are talking about FPE…breakers have known issues as well as we know FPE lied to obtain UL Listing as well so it begs to question them all together.

Now…again if the HI want’s to invest in a $ 995.00 tester like I posted above they can test these breakers if they choose…lol…but alas would not advise it…inform the client and defer for evaluation and let the electrician make the call…

I’m just not BIG on blanket statements…every FPE panel should be evaluated by someone with a better understanding of them and let THEM make the recommendations to the client…should they be in your report…HELL yeah they should…and again defer to evaluation…if the client chooses to ignore it…thats their baby.

I’ve got an FPE panel laying on the floor of the shop, that I just tore out last week. It’s chock full of a few “rare” FPE breakers. GFCI breakers, a 70 amp double, a few American classified replacements, etc. I was going to eBay them all. At least half of them “welded” themselves into the buss stab holes. They weren’t loose, but at some point in history they were loose enough to jump a spark and weld themselves tight. Not very often that I’ve run into that condition.

Marc…whats the going rate for that service change up your way…I need to see if I am TOO cheap…:slight_smile:

Kinda depends. A gravy 200 amp, all SE cable, weatherhead straight up from meter, panel surface mounted right inside from meter in basement, two new ground rods and new GEC to water pipe, right around 2K (sometimes less if I’m reusing most of the breakers on a 100-200 upgrade). Naturally, there’s lots of adders that can bonk that price way up. Outdoor disco’s, PVC, RMC, Mast service, flush panels, house made of stone, yard full of dog crap, etc., all drive up the costs. That same 2K service would be 4K with an outdoor disco and all RMC. I try to do my estimates with “good”, “better”, and “best” options. About 3/4 of people will pick the middle price, most of the rest pick the cheapest -“good”, and a small fraction want the best. If I was just bidding “good” all the time, I’d be leaving money on the table lots of times, I’ve found out.

Could you guys repeat that, I have no clue as to what was said.

Was that in English or was I missing something here.
I always thought that sh#t flows downhill and the receptacle works or does not work, as long as it is grounded, and that is why those two trades need to be licensed.
But, Builders do not have to be licensed, so that would mean as long as the power is safe and sh#t flows downhill, no one cares if the building falls down, right?

Ah, you say, that is why we have Code Enforcement, right.

If they did their job it might work. They are understaffed and over budget item in all the City’s and Towns Budgets.

Talking with a sheetrocker/taper finisher today and told me he was still working on a house where the Home Owner sheetrocked the whole house with 3/8" everywhere.

Where was the Code Officer. Probably will come in when it is painted and say it looks good.


Marcel :slight_smile: :wink:

This is $1,200 to $1,500 around here with all new breakers…typically, SQ. D HomeLine.

Which is why talking price is mostly useless information. Very interesting to learn about, but not very useful unless you operate in the same market area. Every operation has different overhead, and every market area has different economic realities. I suspect that a home inspection of a dwelling would yeild very different prices if you transplanted that same dwelling to various places around the country.

how it helps me…I asked MARC as a personal question on his price in his area as I have been doing this 20 years…I like to learn the equate of pricing in different areas. In VA the installation from my company would be a single price ( we dont have levels , but might be nice ) anyway I would charge for a basic install of 200A for about $ 1,500-$2,000 depending on the factors…