Federal Pacific Electric main breaker panels

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  #1  
Old 08-31-04, 09:49 PM
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Federal Pacific Electric main breaker panels

Anybody have any experience or opinions on these panels? My house has a 125 amp FPE main panel. A Google search on Federal Pacific Electric turns up some rather eye-opening results. These panels are apparently notorious for having unreliable breakers (sometimes don't open when overloaded). Obviously, this has me a bit concerned.

Is this mostly overhyped?
 
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Old 08-31-04, 09:53 PM
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No, it's not overhyped. Replace the panel as soon as you can afford it.
 
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Old 08-31-04, 10:22 PM
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I figured as much. I already have a 200A panel picked out, and reading through these posts has convinced me to hire a pro to replace the main panel - there's only so far I'll go to save a few bucks .

Thanks
 
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Old 09-01-04, 07:43 AM
mpbro
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FWIW, I've heard that replacement Federal Pacific breakers are vintage, and usually only available at specialty stores. They supposedly cost ~ $50 a pop! I have a Zinssco main panel, and Home Depot actually carried replacements. They were $40-60 a piece, versus $4 for modern GE breakers.
 
  #5  
Old 09-01-04, 07:59 AM
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FP panels and breakers are still available in Canada. They appear to work fine. I don't know if they are exactly the same as the older ones in the US.

Also, as far as I know, there have been no problems with FP panels and breakers north of the border. Must be the weather!
 
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Old 09-01-04, 08:48 AM
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There was supposedly a recall of FPE in Canada, which prompted a "why didn't USA mandate a recall as well?" uproar over here. The most documentation I've seen on the issue is at www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm which most of us have probably already found. Not knowing about any of the issues at the time, I lived with a FPE breaker panel for several years in a previous house (there are hundreds of them in our city). I never had a fault of any kind that would trip a breaker, but I can say the GFCI breakers never failed to trip in a rain storm . I added a hot tub and was able to find a breaker at the big orange box. It was expensive (around $25 for a 220V 30 amp) but not outlandishly over priced. The panel scared me because it had no main. If I had known then what I know now it would have been out of there before I moved in. The house was totally electric. As a fireman in our city, I saw several odd electrical occurrences that we couldn't explain at the time. Every one of them involved a FPE panel. I just never made the connection (so to speak).

Doug M.
 
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Old 09-01-04, 10:00 AM
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Yes, there was a recall, but just on 15-amp single-pole models NC015 and NC015CP made between August 1996 and June 1997. Not sure of the reason. As I say, I donít know if the Canadian "Stab-Lok" panels and breakers are of a different design than in the US (I doubt it), but it would appear the Canadian units are fine. At least I hope so, my main panel and a new sub are both from Schneider Canada using the "Stab-Lok" design.
 
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Old 09-01-04, 12:47 PM
Kray
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My house has a 40-year old Federal Pacific fuse panel (emphasis on "fuse" as opposed to "breaker.") It is in a location protected from weather and moisture and appears to be in fine condition, and I really haven't thought about replacing it. If anyone believes the concern about FP breaker panels should extend to their fuse panels as well, I would appreciate knowing.
Thanks
 
  #9  
Old 09-01-04, 03:29 PM
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Not that any 40 year old device designed to provide protection against fire and injury shouldn't be carefully evaluated for replacement, but fuses can't lock up, and have no such thing as a failure rate. An FP fuse panel provides as much protection as any other fuse panel. Some would argue that a fuse panel is better than a breaker panel, but I've been stuck without a spare fuse at midnight when mom turned on a number 12 and a number 10 at the same time and knocked out the power on the whole south end of the house, including the bathroom , so I would have to dissagree.

Doug M.
 
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