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Federal Pacific “Stab Lok” Split Bus Panels

Federal Pacific split bus electrical panels lost their UL rating about 25 years ago, due to a high failure rate in the effectiveness of its panel breakers.  If you own one, it needs to be replaced immediately.  If you have any questions about whether your panel might be a Federal Pacific, please don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll be pleased to check the electrical panel in your property.

Watch a Video on replacing Federal Pacific “Stab Lok” Split Bus Panels

Names and panel labels associated with the Federal Pacific Stab-Lok® design include at least:

  • Federal Pacific Electric
  • FPE
  • Stab-Lok®
  • FPE-Stab-Lok®
  • Federal Electric
  • Federal NOARC
  • Federal Pioneer

Why Federal Pacific Split Bus Panels can be dangerous

(from Inspectapedia.com)
  1. Fraudulent FPE Stab-Lok® practice: In 2002, in a class action lawsuit in New Jersey, the Court ruled that over many years FPE had violated the NY Consumer Fraud Act. Specifically, the court found that “… FPE knowingly and purposefully distributed circuit breakers which were not tested to meet UL standards as indicated on their label. This constitutes an unlawful practice proscribed by the Act.“[1] The court’s decision, which was based on extensive evidence that included FPE’s own documents, confirmed long-standing allegations of FPE’s fraudulent testing practices. *
  2. High FPE Stab-Lok® failure rates: Despite FPE’s fraudulent testing and falsified UL labeling, defective FPE Stab-Loc circuit breakers were installed in millions of residences throughout the United States. Tests on more than 500 Stab-Lok® breakers from homes across the country show defective performance for about 1/3 of the two-pole FPE Stab-Loc circuit breakers and about 1/5 of the single-pole FPE Stab-Loc circuit breakers in those tests. [3] Most recent FPE Stab-Lok® testing of 830 breakers from a New Jersey condominium found failures to trip on response to overcurrent in up to 70% of cases where 2-pole breakers were installed. 80% failure rate has been demonstrated on GFCI breakers, and 100% failures to trip occur on jammed 2-pole breakers experiencing a second overcurrent event. *
  3. FPE Stab-Lok® fire & injury hazard: In addition to the failure of these circuit breakers to protect a building and its occupants from dangerous overcurrents, switching an FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breaker to the “off” position may leave the breaker “on” internally, risking serious or fatal electrical shock. Based on failure studies and field reports, experts estimate that FPE Stab-Lok® panels cause significant annual property damage losses, injuries, and deaths each year. *
  4. FPE Stab-Lok® is a latent fire and shock hazard: the presence of the equipment in a home does not itself initiate a failure. Rather, when a dangerous overcurrent occurs, the equipment is likely to fail to provide the safety protection that is expected of circuit breakers. For this reason, an owner’s failure to observe a problem “up to now” is absolutely no assurance that the panel is safe. It may simply be that an overcurrent has not previously occurred and the circuit breakers have not been called-on to do their job.*
  5. FPE Stab-Lok® equipment violates the National Electrical Code Because of the proven high defect rate, the FPE Stab-Loc breakers do not provide the circuit protection that is required by applicable codes and standards (NEC and UL). This constitutes an increased risk of fire and injury. [4] NEC-240-2 “Equipment shall be protected against overcurrent …” – a building with FPE a Stab-Lok® electrical panel does not meet the requirements of the NEC nor of any other electrical code.*
  6. FPE Stab-Lok® inspection or testing not reliable: There is no practical way that a licensed electrician, inspector, or engineer can determine which breakers in a given electrical panel are seriously defective internally. The only way to do that is by means of functional and life test procedures that they are not trained to do nor equipped to perform. Do not attempt field testing of FPE Stab-Lok® equipment. Doing so risks serious fire or injury, and testing, even simply switching breakers on and off increases the risk of a future failure to trip.*
  7. Replace FPE Stab-Lok® equipment: Given these facts, FPE Stab-Lok® electrical panels and circuit breakers should be considered an un-due fire and injury risk and we recommend that the equipment be replaced completely. (Do not purchase and install replacement circuit breakers)*

*Source – Inspectapedia – FEDERAL PACIFIC ELECTRIC, FPE STAB LOK ® Electrical Panels & Circuit Breakers: Latent Fire & Shock Hazards

FEDERAL PACIFIC  ELECTRIC, FPE STAB LOK ® Electrical Panels & Circuit Breakers: Latent Fire & Shock Hazards

An Excerpt from the Washington Post on Federal Pacific “Stab Lok” Electrical Panels

by Alan Gould, Washington Post

January 13, 2007, page F1.

“These electrical panels, widely used by builders in the 1960s and 1970s, are considered unsafe. The problem is usually described as a latent hazard – that is, the panels and circuit breakers themselves do not cause unsafe conditions such as a short in a wire, but the breakers often WILL NOT TRIP when they should. That can lead to overheating and fires. In extensive testing by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the circuit breakers had a failure rate of approximately 25 percent. I see many Federal Pacific-brand electrical panels in homes I inspect, sometimes several in a week. They are easy to identify by the Federal Pacific and Stab-Lok branding on the panel cover. If a household electrical circuit is overloaded, the circuit breaker in the panel is supposed to trip (cut off) so that heat cannot build up and cause scorched wires, melting and fires. I rarely see evidence of this, but the many cases of failure have led to an industry view that because these panels are obsolete and possibly dangerous, replacement should be considered. That usually costs between $1,000 and $1,600. To date, there is no recall or class-action lawsuit for this panel, but the CPSC has issued safety warnings. The product is no longer manufactured.”