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#210639 - 07/17/13 06:31 PM Federal Pacific Panels  
SafetyWired  Offline
Member
Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Pa, USA
I have heard various things over the years regarding Fed Pacific panels and breakers, and I cannot seem to get a strait answer anywhere. Figured I would throw this out there...this is also somewhat related to another thread 'Adjustable-Trip Breakers'. In that thread I mistakenly said the panel was an old GE. It is not, it is an old FP panel. A newer GE TED type breaker was installed before my time there.

1) Were FE panels and breakers outlawed?
2) NEC from my understanding cannot tell you what equip to use as long as it has a UL...correct?
3) They still sell FE breakers...how could that be legal if FE is illegal?
4) If outlawed...who outlawed them. AHJ has authority, however one inspector will say one thing and another 180 deg different.
5) I was told some liability insurance co's will not insure property with FE equip.


Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#210640 - 07/17/13 08:15 PM Re: Federal Pacific Panels [Re: SafetyWired]  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Member
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
Golly gee- another opportunity for me to upset folks laugh What shall I do?

Hardly anyone in the trade actually likes FPE panels- but that's a far cry from the 'sky is falling' panic the sight of an FPE panel seems to provoke in some.

To answer your questions:
1) I am not aware of any low,or code amendment, that 'outlawed' FPE panels in any way.

2) NEC only says to use listed equipment.

3) Who sells FPE breakers?The firm has been out of business for some time. True, there are folks selling used breakers, and there are other makers who make breakers that fitin FPE panels. I doubt you'll ever see a new FPE breaker for sale, though.
In the broader sense, since when did something being illegal make it illegal to sell them? Advertisers in "High Times" have made fortunes selling to the illegal marijuana growing market- and that's only one example.

4) Put up or shut up. That goes for inspectors, too. Exactly what is being said? What's their source? Otherwise, see my answer to #1.

5) Again, put up or shut up. Exactly what is being said by which insurance company? For that matter, 'liability' insurance is completely different from 'homeowners' insurance.

In practical terms, FPE being out of business really puts a bind on their continued use. Replacement breakers are quite expensive, and you can't get GFI or AFCI breakers. Other code issues (like the maximum number of disconnecting means) come into play when you try to expand.


#210641 - 07/17/13 08:33 PM Re: Federal Pacific Panels [Re: renosteinke]  
sparkyinak  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,317
Alaska
Well, Reno, tell us how you really feel... laugh


"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa

#210643 - 07/17/13 09:59 PM Re: Federal Pacific Panels [Re: SafetyWired]  
jdevlin  Offline
Member
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 402
welland ontario canada
The Canadian equivalent is still sold and quite popular. It's called Federal Pioneer sold by Schneider Electric.


#210644 - 07/17/13 10:11 PM Re: Federal Pacific Panels [Re: renosteinke]  
SafetyWired  Offline
Member
Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Pa, USA
Originally Posted by renosteinke
Golly gee- another opportunity for me to upset folks laugh What shall I do?

Hardly anyone in the trade actually likes FPE panels- but that's a far cry from the 'sky is falling' panic the sight of an FPE panel seems to provoke in some.

To answer your questions:
1) I am not aware of any low,or code amendment, that 'outlawed' FPE panels in any way.

2) NEC only says to use listed equipment.

3) Who sells FPE breakers?The firm has been out of business for some time. True, there are folks selling used breakers, and there are other makers who make breakers that fitin FPE panels. I doubt you'll ever see a new FPE breaker for sale, though.
In the broader sense, since when did something being illegal make it illegal to sell them? Advertisers in "High Times" have made fortunes selling to the illegal marijuana growing market- and that's only one example.

4) Put up or shut up. That goes for inspectors, too. Exactly what is being said? What's their source? Otherwise, see my answer to #1.

5) Again, put up or shut up. Exactly what is being said by which insurance company? For that matter, 'liability' insurance is completely different from 'homeowners' insurance.

In practical terms, FPE being out of business really puts a bind on their continued use. Replacement breakers are quite expensive, and you can't get GFI or AFCI breakers. Other code issues (like the maximum number of disconnecting means) come into play when you try to expand.

You didn't upset me at all. I appreciate your candor. The 'put up or shut up' is my attitude, and similar to my response when my supervisor was telling me about his experiences. That is why I threw it out here. I have seen no legal documentation stating FP is 'illegal'.
I wasn't talking about homeowners insurance. I was talking about a insurance carrier for a commercial property who said they would not cover the premises because of the equipment. I was also told (I know he said she said) that some liability may not cover you if installing or working with FE. Sounds ridiculous, and I am pretty sure it is false, however stranger things have happened.
Again was just throwing out there to see what some of you have heard and maybe some authority here could speak up and show documentation

Last edited by SafetyWired; 07/17/13 10:16 PM.

#210645 - 07/17/13 10:17 PM Re: Federal Pacific Panels [Re: SafetyWired]  
electure  Offline


Member
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,259
Fullerton, CA USA
The only FPE breakers in question are the Stab-Loks.
The breakers lost their UL listing in the late '70s or early '80s, but gained the listing back in 6 months or so. The Stab-Loks were only available in 15-100 amp ratings.

There were no problems reported with any of the other FPE breakers; in fact the FPE breakers were factory installed in some non FPE brand panels.

I think their transformer division is still alive and well (I might be wrong about this, though)



#210646 - 07/17/13 10:19 PM Re: Federal Pacific Panels [Re: electure]  
SafetyWired  Offline
Member
Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 44
Pa, USA
Originally Posted by electure

The only FPE breakers in question are the Stab-Loks.

There were no problems reported with any of the other FPE breakers; in fact the FPE breakers were factory installed in some non FPE brand panels




Where can I find this documented?


#210647 - 07/17/13 10:37 PM Re: Federal Pacific Panels [Re: SafetyWired]  
electure  Offline


Member
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,259
Fullerton, CA USA
For the Stab-loks see here:

http://inspectapedia.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm


"There were no problems reported with any of the other FPE breakers; in fact the FPE breakers were factory installed in some non FPE brand panels"

I don't know of anywhere it's documented. I'm just relying on 40+ years of memories. Sorry frown







#210648 - 07/17/13 10:49 PM Re: Federal Pacific Panels [Re: SafetyWired]  
HotLine1  Offline


Member
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,809
Brick, NJ USA
The way I understand this is:

FPE Stab-Loc breakers had an issue, and were supposedly recalled and replaced. Fact or fiction, I cannot swear either way.

There are listed replacement 'Stab-Loc' breakers (new) available from American Circuit Breaker, but they are not cheap.

PS: As an AHJ, I do not have the legal authority to 'outlaw' any item, nor does any other NJ AHJ.

As to any official documentation, I doubt that any of the recall info is still around. I personally never saw anything, other than a notice in a supply house. They were a big FPE distributor at the time.

As to being 'outlawed' or 'illegal' IMHO, anything that was installed in compliance with the Code that was in effect at the time of installation is 'legal'.

The panels were not an 'issue' to the best of my knowledge.

I am not aware of any insurance carriers that have issues with FPE.

Now, all that said, the 'Home Inspectors' have a field day with FPE panels. I get numerous calls from sellers, buyers, and real estate people. They all look for the same info that ShortCircuit is asking. My stock answer is basically what I stated above.

Replacements or additional breakers were $20-$25 for a single pole, AFCI are not available (AFAIK), and a replacement panel would be the best solution for a homeowner.


John

#210649 - 07/17/13 11:05 PM Re: Federal Pacific Panels [Re: SafetyWired]  
HotLine1  Offline


Member
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,809
Brick, NJ USA
Electure:

Thank you for the link. IMHO, the date of 2002 seem to be incorrect. I think that the FPE issues here in NJ was in the late 70s/early 80s. The supply house I mentioned above was long gone in '02.

I did not read all the info at this time. As I said above, a replacement panel is the best solution.

BTW, I did a panel change inspection the other day, and laying next to the new Sq D Homeline are two (2) NEW FPE Stab-Locs. Both in 'retail' blister cards, quite dusty. Price labels from Rickels (Home Center; long gone) $2.79!!


John

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