Replacing a Federal Pacific Service Panel

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Old 07-22-08, 09:24 AM
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Replacing a Federal Pacific Service Panel

Hello All:

Recently had a windstorm come through town and knocked out power all over. I had the misfortune of having a tree fall onto the electric line to my house. So Iím without power, probably for a while as the electric company is focused on getting neighborhoods back on line. No idea when theyíll get around to the individual residence fixes.

Iíve known for a while that my electric panel should be replaced Ė itís an Federal Pacific Panel from the late 1960ís with Stab-loc breakers. Every electrician Iíve ever met says it should be replaced as FPEís donít trip. Not to mention the breakers are very expensive to buy a replacement or additional breaker.

I was thinking today, since the I have no power, maybe itís a good time to get it swapped out. My thought is: if I go to Home Depot and pick up a 100A Square D panel and swap it out, it should be relatively quick and easy. Wonít have to worry about wire sizes/meter compatibility and such as Iíd go from a 100A panel to a 100A panel.

Anyone have any thoughts as to whether they would proceed like this? My house is pretty small, a 900 square foot ranch. Biggest draws are the clothes dryer, stove/oven range, and central air. I have a gas furnace, so that is not a concern. I have not had issues in the past with breakers tripping (but maybe thatís a function of the FPE breakers)? And the existing FPE panel does still have 4 blank spaces available for expansion.

Thanks!
 
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Old 07-22-08, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by rkelachim View Post
I’ve known for a while that my electric panel should be replaced – it’s an Federal Pacific Panel from the late 1960’s with Stab-loc breakers.
I agree.

I was thinking today, since the I have no power, maybe it’s a good time to get it swapped out. My thought is: if I go to Home Depot and pick up a 100A Square D panel and swap it out, it should be relatively quick and easy. Won’t have to worry about wire sizes/meter compatibility and such as I’d go from a 100A panel to a 100A panel.
You should still get a permit and inspection...

Unless you can actually see the service drop is completely disconnected, you should treat it as live.

A 100A service may be adequate still, but you can do a "demand load calculation" to make sure. If you search Google for it you can find the procedure.

I would advise against re-using the service conductors; fourty year old wire is due for replacement. Additionally, the existing wires are probably not long enough to reach the lugs in the new panel as modern boxes are larger.

Anyone have any thoughts as to whether they would proceed like this? My house is pretty small, a 900 square foot ranch. Biggest draws are the clothes dryer, stove/oven range, and central air.
100A is probably okay, but you have to do the calc to know for sure.

I have not had issues in the past with breakers tripping (but maybe that’s a function of the FPE breakers)?
The problem with FPE breakers is that they don't trip, even when they're supposed to. The first sign of malfunction is a fire.
 
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Old 07-22-08, 11:50 AM
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If everything else is in good condition, and you have sufficient wire length in the panel, you might want to consider an Eaton E-CH Adjustable Retrofit Kit:



http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/CHRetrofitGuide.pdf
http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fperep...tm#fpereplace3
 
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