Blog > Federal Pacific Panels
Stab Lock Breakers
From the mid 1950's though the mid 1980's Federal Pacific Electric panels with Stab Lock breakers were very popular and used by many of the residential electrical contractors throughout the country. They were slightly cheaper than some of the other panels manufactures available at the time, which made it very popular with electrical contractors to help keep the cost down. Believe or not there are still a number of these panels in use to today, some 30 years after they stopped manufacturing them. I have seen many FPE panels still in service throughout Brevard County in cities such as Satellite Beach, Palm Bay, Melbourne Shores, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach, Indialantic and many more.
As time went on it became known that the breakers didn't always trip thus causing a potential for a fire. Upon further investigating by insurance companies and other testing companies the main problem was that some Stab Lock breakers failed to trip at the design amperage they were designed for. Let take a 30 amp breaker for example. If the breaker was protecting a 30 amp circuit which has motor or compressor wired to it often times the circuit may exceed the 30 Amp rating for a pre-set time to give the motor time to start. Often times circuits with motors and compressor draw more current on start up but quickly drop back to normal operating amperage. However, if the current drawn remains above the 30 amp level for an extended period of time the breaker would trip, which is an indication there is a problem with the circuit such as a motor failure. The problem with Federal Pacific Stab Lock breakers that in some cases they did not trip when they were suppose to and in some cases not at all. When breakers don't trip as design it greatly increases the chances for a fire to start in the panel. Many a homeowner have said I never had any trouble with the Federal Pacific breakers in my panel tripping and that's the misconception.
Insurance companies have become wiser over the years and now when you switch insurance companies some will ask for a 4 point inspection. What they want to know is the condition of the roof, heating and air condition system, plumbing and electrical system and this is how it got its name 4 point or insurance inspection. Many of the insurance companies when they see a Federal Pacific Electric panels listed in the report will not insure the house unless the homeowner is willing and agrees to change out the Federal Pacific Electric equipment.
Recently, on Channel 9 WFTV in Orlando, Florida a special report was done on Federal Pacific Electric equipment in homes in or around Orlando. Working with 5 homeowners in the area the equipment was removed in several houses and taken back to a lab for an analysis of the equipment. Of the 5 panels 11 the Stab Lock breakers did not trip or open the circuit completely as designed when a fault current occurs. For more information please click on the link below.
If you have Federal Pacific Electrical equipment in your house we would advise you to contact your local electrical contractor and seek out their advise and recommendations on what should be done to protect your family from a tragic accident happening due to a faulty breaker. Please remember a house and your personal belongs can be replaced but nothing can replace the life of you or your family.
More Information: Action 9 Investigates Risky Circuit Breakers