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ZINSCO SYLVANIA ELECTRICAL PANELS
This article describes additional hazards and potential defects in Federal Pacific Electric / Federal Noark / and some Federal Pioneer electrical panels besides the problem of circuit breakers that fail to trip. These conditions add force to the argument for complete replacement of the equipment.
Replacement FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers are unlikely to reduce the failure risk of this equipment. We recommend that residential FPE Stab-Lok® electrical panels be replaced entirely or the entire panel bus assembly be replaced, regardless of FPE model number or FPE year of manufacture. We do not sell circuit breakers nor any other products. For more information see FPE REPLACEMENT PANELS and FPE REPLACEMENT BREAKERS. This page assists in identifying Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok® electrical panels and circuit breakers. More FPE information is in the links listed at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article .
It is information for building inspectors, home buyers, home owners, electricians exploring the background of possible hazards associated with Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok® circuit breakers and service panels.
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OTHER DEFECTS - Federal Pacific Electric Equipment issues extend beyond basic design of the Stab Lok Circuit Breaker
But it's more complicated than that. The company actually changed the design from time to time (without necessarily telling anyone). On the other hand, No one has provided any technical or even anecdotal data suggesting that any of these changes corrected basic design flaws. In addition, there was the problem of equipment UL-listing label swapping and therefore mislabeling individual pieces of equipment, therefore incorrectly stating the use to which individual pieces of equipment could be applied.
FPE USA stopped making equipment quite a while ago, but Stab-Lok® (TM) panels and circuit breakers continued to be produced in Canada, under the name Federal Pioneer, a Canadian "FPE" company which was later bought by Schneider Electric, also in Canada.
Federal Pioneer Stab-Lok® circuit breakers and panels continue to be available even still as new today. Some of my Canadian contacts claim that the Canadian product was better than the U.S.-made version but my own first-hand view of some of it in the home of a Canadian Home inspector was that it was just as bad. (The circuit breakers had to be held into the panel using adhesive tape!)
Several years ago I called Schneider Electric and was able to speak with a Schneider engineer about this product. I asked if they had changed the design to fix any of the inherent problems with the product series over the U.S. version. I was promised an answer to this question - the engineer was quite polite. But in follow-up calls no one at the company wanted to provide any information about this product.
If a manufacturer cannot, or will not provide their supporting test or other data for a product professionals are forced to err on the safe side by refusing to endorse it.
"Trust me" just doesn't cut it where electrical safety is concerned.
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Questions & answers or comments about other FPE Stab-Lok® equipment hazards that have been identified in addition to the failure-to-trip problem.
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