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#217770 - 11/15/16 03:44 AM FPE in Germany
Texas_Ranger Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2343
Loc: Vienna, Austria
Yesterday an interesting post popped up on Facebook from a German electrician. He actually stumbled across an FPE StabLok unit complete with German (as well as English, French and Italian) factory label, rated 220/380 V 3ph and the MCBs labelled with European trip curves (L and H from what I can decipher). Today there was another post on an American-style box in the same area, this one without the cover, clearly showing an aftermarket main switch and an incoming mains cable with old (pre-1965) German colours. None of the buildings were linked to US facilities in any way.

I wonder if those are just as bad as the ones for the US market! Obviously they must have been produced separately as H and L trip curves didn't exist in the US so they might be more reliable but who knows?

Pictures (should be visible for anyone, even without a Facebook account)
https://scontent-vie1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t...amp;oe=58C34856

According to the circuit directory there are three 3-phase circuits (water heater, washing machine and cooker) and three 1-phase circuits (can't really read much about them).

This is the second one, not sure if it's FPE:
https://scontent-vie1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t...amp;oe=58BB9DB0

Apparently the odd colours are because the original installer covered all the wires with silicone sleeving.

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#217771 - 11/16/16 01:47 AM Re: FPE in Germany [Re: Texas_Ranger]
NORCAL Offline
Member

Registered: 09/25/02
Posts: 807
WOW! Since the Canadian FPE offshoot does not have the same issues as the US models, one can only guess those do not either, with a 380/400/415V supply, a fault could have serious consequences.

Fisher

Price

Electric

laugh

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#217772 - 11/16/16 07:55 PM Re: FPE in Germany [Re: Texas_Ranger]
HotLine1 Online   content

Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6804
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Interesting!!

Is the factory location listed on the label? FPE had a plant here in Newark, NJ back in the day.

FPE panels are still being swapped out around here. They were popular back in the day.
_________________________
John

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#217773 - 11/18/16 01:28 PM Re: FPE in Germany [Re: Texas_Ranger]
Texas_Ranger Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2343
Loc: Vienna, Austria
There seems to be an "FPE Schaltgeräte GmBH" in Karlsruhe, Germany listed on the label but no indication of the actual production. It's a bit hard to read since the picture is so small.
I googled that name and actually found an extract from a 1962 address directory that includes an ad for FPE. According to that full-page ad the Stab Lok MCBs were actually produced in Germany for the entire European market, production began in 1959.

Here's the ad:
http://digital.blb-karlsruhe.de/blbihd/periodical/pageview/631182

Despite their claims on successful marketing FPE was never actually common in Europe. In fact I've only ever seen two FPE Stab Lok panels in Europe! According to the electrician who posted the picture on Facebook FPE was for some odd reason popular in a small area of Germany a few hundred kilometres north of the FPE factory. Maybe a local wholesaler there was in touch with FPE and got good prices!

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#217776 - 11/19/16 03:34 PM Re: FPE in Germany [Re: Texas_Ranger]
wa2ise Offline
Member

Registered: 11/29/02
Posts: 771
Loc: Oradell NJ USA
Maybe there was a US military base in that area? But that would imply that someone imported FPE stuff into Germany, not the stuff having been made in Germany...

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#217777 - 11/19/16 04:58 PM Re: FPE in Germany [Re: Texas_Ranger]
uksparx Offline
Member

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 44
Loc: Egremont,Cumbria,UK
We had Federal Electric breakers and panels here in the UK in the 1980s - I installed a good few at the time. I assume this is the same company as FPE, as they used the Stab Lok system. They were not that popular and vanished pretty quickly. I think the main distributor was City Electrical Factors. It's now almost impossible to find breakers it seems.

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#217781 - 11/20/16 06:39 AM Re: FPE in Germany [Re: wa2ise]
Texas_Ranger Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2343
Loc: Vienna, Austria
Originally Posted By: wa2ise
Maybe there was a US military base in that area? But that would imply that someone imported FPE stuff into Germany, not the stuff having been made in Germany...


Well the ads clearly claim that they actually manufactured in Germany so I don't think there's any direct relation to the US military. The buildings where those pictures were taken weren't related to the army either.

I wonder where the equipment for the UK market came from!

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#217784 - 11/20/16 11:10 PM Re: FPE in Germany [Re: Texas_Ranger]
NORCAL Offline
Member

Registered: 09/25/02
Posts: 807
Have seen some photos of FPE panels in the UK, but where they (the photos) are is the $64.000 question.


Edited by NORCAL (11/20/16 11:12 PM)

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#217786 - 11/21/16 07:43 AM Re: FPE in Germany [Re: Texas_Ranger]
HotLine1 Online   content

Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6804
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Are there not voltage differences between the US 120/240 single phase that the Stab-Loc CBs I am used to seeing are rated for??

We also had two (2) Stab-Locs; the 'full size' similar to what is in the pic, and the 'half-size' which IMHO are/were more prevalent here in the US.
_________________________
John

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#217791 - 11/21/16 11:02 AM Re: FPE in Germany [Re: Texas_Ranger]
Texas_Ranger Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2343
Loc: Vienna, Austria
The second picture seems to show "half-size" ones, these are two different boards. The second one has obviously been modified to accept a standard DIN-rail main switch.

If you google "Federal Electric UK" you'll find plenty of pictures. Apparently they had a plant in Telford well into the mid-1990s when production was taken over by/renamed to Square D and then Schneider.

This is a UK-made StabLok:
http://srselectrical.co.uk/image/cache/data/SRS%20Electrical/DSC00308-500x500.jpg

Later ones were already to European standards (this one being a B 32 A) and light grey instead of black:

http://www.harbordelectrical.co.uk/image...__32A_3_POL.JPG

Reports on the internet seem to indicate that the UK MCBs might not suffer from the same issues as the US-made 2-pole ones but partial or total bus meltdown appears to be very common.

And yes, there is an essential difference in the distribution systems used in the US and most of Europe. The majoritiy of European countries uses single-phase two-wire (derived from three-phase four-wire systems) or three-phase four-wire systems operating at nominal 230/400 V or back in the days of FPE/Federal Electric at 220/380 V on the continent and in Ireland and 240/415 V in the UK. Two-pole MCBs were essentially useless in Europe but three-pole ones fairly common, especially in Germany where even everyday loads such as domestic cookers are three-phase loads (usually two rings per phase and the third phase for the oven, all heating elements connected L - N).

FPE Germany (or another yet unknown branch) not only produced MCBs and enclosures though. Yesterday I rummaged through an old box with plugs and trailing sockets and stumbled across a big metal three-phase plug made of die-cast aluminium (15 A/380 V) with the FPE logo! Interestingly the only approval mark is ÖVE, i.e. either this specific type of connector was only standardised in Austria or it was made by a yet unknown Austrian branch of FPE.

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