Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) electrical panels have been a subject of safety concerns for many years. The primary safety issue associated with FPE panels is related to their circuit breakers' failure to trip or shut off power when overloaded or experiencing a short circuit. This failure can result in electrical fires, property damage, and potential harm to individuals.
Several studies and investigations have indicated that FPE circuit breakers are more likely to fail to trip than other brands. It is believed that a design flaw in the FPE panels, specifically with their Stab-Lok circuit breakers, is responsible for this safety problem. The Stab-Lok breakers are designed to snap onto the panel's bus bar, distributing electricity to the various circuits. However, it has been observed that these breakers may have issues with proper connection and can fail to trip when necessary.
Another study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that many FPE circuit breakers did not fully comply with Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) requirements. Commission testing confirmed that these breakers fail specific UL calibration test requirements. To meet UL standards, residential circuit breakers must pass several "calibration tests." These tests aim to determine whether the circuit breakers will hold the current for which they are rated and automatically open or "trip" (shut off the current) within specified time limits if overloading of the circuit causes current levels above the breaker's amperage rating.
Additionally, FPE faced allegations of fraudulent practices during the 1980s when it was discovered that they violated testing and certification procedures. It was revealed that FPE knew about the circuit breakers' potential hazards but failed to disclose them to the public. This further contributed to the safety concerns surrounding their electrical panels.
Due to these reasons, many experts and electrical safety organizations recommend replacing FPE panels to ensure the electrical system's safety in a building. Hiring a licensed electrician to inspect and replace the panel with a safer and more reliable alternative is advised.
We recommend contacting Unrivaled Electric for an evaluation if you have an FPE panel.
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