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ZINSCO SYLVANIA ELECTRICAL PANELS
This article discusses and compares the hazards of Federal Pacific Stab-Lok® Electric Main Electrical Panels compared with Sub-Panels in buildings, and addresses the question of amount of risk reduced if only the main disconnect or main FPE panel is replaced. This information assists building inspectors, home buyers, home owners, electricians exploring hazards associated with Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok® circuit breakers and service panels.Our page-top photo shows a main FPE Stab-Lok® electrical panel and service disconnect (at left) and three FPE Sub-panels.
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.
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Comparing the Hazard of Federal Pacific Stab-Lok® (FPE) Electric Sub-Panels vs. Main Panels & Main Disconnects
Readers of this article should also see Federal Pacific Electric Panels: Fires Waiting to Happen and The Federal Pacific Electric FPE Panel/Breaker Hazard Summary - the main FPE Hazard Website. Also see our discussion of pre-1970 FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers at FPE Pre-1970 STAB-LOKS OK?.
Our photo (left) shows an FPE Stab-Lok® main electrical panel. Multiple main disconnects are in the top section of the panel.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Question: Do FPE Stab-Lok® Sub-Panels Present as Much Risk as the Main FPE Panel?
A commercial insurance broker in the Western U.S. placed insurance on a hotel built in 1964.
In 2000 the Main Electrical Panel, an FPE Stab-Lok® unit, was replaced with a unit made by Murray.
The hotel includes nine remaining “sub-panels” made by FPE
The insurance company that we placed the hotel with has a policy that they do not accept properties with FPE panels.
Our question is: Do the FPE sub-panels present as much risk as the main FPE panel?
It seems in a perfect world the hotel would change out all sub-panels, but at least they have upgraded the “main” panel. Do you think this is an acceptable compromise? - (Anon.)
Reply: Replacing the Main FPE Panel reduced risk but significant risks remain with the FPE Subs. Here are some of the risk factors:
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately assess the actual electrical hazards that would not be included whatsoever in a theoretical discussion. For example there could have been a history of failures to trip, overheating, or unusual circuit usage on specific circuits serving particular areas of the hotel, or there may be other significant electrical hazards (or other hazards) outside of the FPE topic that also merit urgent attention.
That said, here are some things to consider in assessing the degree of risk that has been achieved by replacing only the main FPE electrical panel:
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