FPE Angst


The FPE panel issue is one that has me frustrated. What exactly are HI’s stating about FPE’s?

I work for a company that owns about 3000 aparments all over southern N.H. and northern Ma. and 90% of them have FPE panel. in the 5+ years of maintaining them, i’ve not noticed anything more than “tipical” issues common in ANY panel not just FPE. just the occasional bad breaker and such. personaly i just note the general conditions and any issues as i would for any brand. i know others have had bad tastes left behind from FPEs. but then again i think Budwiser taste awfull, what do i know.

See what I mean?

I personaly would like to see a FPE & a Zinsco pannel photo side-by-side.

I would like to see a FPE & Zinsco braker side-by-side also.

This way I would know what each would look like. I kan reed? I would like to see them just to compair their looks. Due to the QOD 1-14-06. I have seen FPE but have yet to see Zinsco in my neck of the woods.

My standard. . .

The design of the Stab-Lok breakers is flawed (subject to damage during installation). These breakers have been documented to fail to open under overload conditions.

Here are a couple FPE pics. . .


Ask and you shall recieve.

The Pictures below are taken from the training course that I will be delivering at the NACHI convention next month.



FPEslide1 (Small).jpg


Nice pics Gerry. Here are a couple more Zinsco pics. . .

Thanks Jeff, the copper bus pic is I believe one of your’s I will go back into the slide and acknowledge it as such, funnily enough I think I have used 3 other of yours in the presentaion.

I pinch all my best Zinsco’s from you :mrgreen: thank you for allowing me to use them in this way.



My pleasure Gerry. . .

Jeff- I like your standard statement- citing the cspc is a good way to validate the concern without stating that they have been recalled or they do not meet code.

That’s really the point. Because they have not been recalled and compliance is not my job (even though there is no code that says FPE is not allowed).

Thank You Very Much Gerry, I like the look of the slides. You can tell that you have put a lot of time into them.


**The home was equipped with a Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Stab-Lok brand service panel. FPE components are considered problematic by industry professionals due to their high failure rate as documented by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Failure of any component within the electrical system can result in fire and/or electrocution. **
Recommend evaluation by a licensed electrician to determine safety, integrity, and performance of the service equipment.

For information about the Federal Pacific Electric breaker panel see information at
: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml83/83008.html

I like to direct the client to cpsc site and let them understand where I’m
coming from…if they want to.

Look here:

Russell Kirk asked a question about Zinsco’s and the replies are very interesting.


Ok…As Jay has stated…I also see ALOT of FPE panels and I have to tell you some I see are in great shape, installed with care and look very clean. Now, their are known issues of the FPE breakers not tripping in an overload situation…and it has been noted…BUT…

I also have been doing this for 18 years…I have seen Square D’s, Cutler Hammers, GE’s and others who have the same issue doe to improper installation, faulty grade equipment ( ie:broken breakers which should not have been installed in the first place ) and so on.

As a Electrician I know that upon my evaluation I can determine with both temp tests, breaker review, stablock review and terminal block review how to recommend a panel be replaced or not…this is why you refer to electricians guys…Now as a HI…well…wait…I do those things also which are beyond the scope but because I can offer the enhanced inspection…But if I didn’t then I would note concerns that stick out…which will PROMPT further evaluation because of it…and I am talking small things…today I did a HI and the electrical panel has a # 8 AWG CU to the ground rod…so what do you guys think I said since you know I can’t fix it because I inspected it…

Oh did I mention I pulled on the ground rod and it came up out of the ground…was cut off at 2 feet long…sorry forgot that part…

Point is…if you see a FPE or Zinsco…I can almost bet you will see some other violation that prompts more review…ie the bonding, grounding, connectors, open knockouts…you name it…double tapping and so on…so in my opinion for HI’s…Less Is Best…Pick out the Obvious violation of safety and refer it to a specialist in the feild…Remove the liability.

Oh…do I like FPE’s…I am waiting for someone to ask me that…NOPE…but I really have to tell you…when I look at FPE or the few Zinsco’s ( nothing like Jeff See’s ) I recommend them to be reviewed…but in all cases I find other supporting things to refer with it to justify it and if I am the electrician the HI ( my friends in the business refer to me ) I check every aspect of the unit…I even remove the breakers to check them…just my thing.

Hey Joe,

Yeah I read that board…sad thing is PERSONAL opinions are like A##holes…everyones got one…Personally as I stated just because of the NAME of a panel I can’t tell a person they MUST spend $ 1,200- 2,500 to replace it…IF upon review it seems fine, checks out fine and after reviewing it making the determination…

You will always have accidents, their will always be fires…in many cases it will be blamed on the panels…BUT i know of quite a few blamed on faulty Sq. D breakers and faulty Cutler Hammer as well…

As you know…better to have someone like ourselves look at it…IN DEPTH…and then determine…sure HI’s can recommend it and I will suggest they do…if anything to remove their potential liable issues in the event of something…but them let the electrician take over…as I am sure in most Zinsco’s and FPE’s…we will find other things…now you that is true fella…lol

Great responses.

The reason I posted this thread is that there seems to be a witch hunt brewing in my areas (cleveland) over FPE’s. I too am a licensed EC, so I come from both sides of the fence. But what has me more aggrivated is that my pride as a long time AHJ has been affronted by my fellow HI’s. It seems there are more than a few local HI’s stating that FPE’s “no longer meet code” or “have lost their UL listing”, and of course, “must be removed”. I have been called a number of times as an EC, because of this misinformation. I have been in more pissing matches over this in the year or so… eyyyeee.

So- I had a certain ASHI guy tell me “geeze… you should be happy, I’m making work for you”. Well- I dont want it if its the result of fear induced Bullsh*t. The only thing substantial that an HI can point to is the CPSC report- which does NOT recommend recall or any other action for that matter. Its not that I have a feeling one way or another… really… But sometimes the CYA thing just gets out of hand. I like what Jeff Pope and others have stated re: “some reports of failure”. This is based in fact. Anything beyond that is not. ramble ramble ramble…

i usualy explain it to my client in relation to cars. if a Chevy guy has a buddy looking at a Ford to buy, he’s going to tell him “bla bla this, and bla bla that” to knock down the Ford, and vice versa. every manufactured anything in this or any other country is designed to fail. Period. weak points are engineered into everything to cut cost of repairs, but also be more repair needy. a car is put together with nuts, washers, and bolts. each has a duel purpose. the nut and bold currode into one, the washer desintagrates causing all 3 to need replacement rather than the whole body panel, but a replacement none the less. diods and resistors burn out to save the whole board, and breakers trip and weaken to save the panel/wiring…and so on and so on… some things inadvertanly have design flaws that cause “brand typical” issues, but that’s just it. if one panel “usualy” has the same issues it’s considered “problematic”, but the other panel have issues too. if you take all the other issues in other panels and condence them into one single, but repeatative, issue, it to would be concidered problematic…if that makes any sence to anyone but me then you’ve had as much if not more fine brewed Arabica than I.