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FPE breaker failed to trip - this is a typical breaker side blow-out that occurs.UBI-FPE Stab-Lok Breaker Comments
Vendor sales manager comments on FPE Stab-Lok replacement breaker safety

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Vendor comments & opinion exchanges about the safety of UBI-brand FPE Stab-Lok replacement circuit breakers sold by Connecticut. Are replacement FPE - Federal Pacific Electric circuit breakers and electrical panels unsafe?

This article series explains the latent electric shock and fire hazards associated with Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok® electric panels and circuit breakers and in Challenger® electrical panels and circuit breakers as well as in some other brands such as Zinsco. Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok® " service panels and breakers are dangerous and can fail, leading to electrical fires.

The problem is that some 240-Volt FPE circuit breakers and possibly also some 120-Volt units simply may not work. Notice: the page top photograph is of an NB-100 double pole 125A circuit breaker sold as an FPE Stab-Lok replacement breaker and that may not be a UBI product - Ed.

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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Comments from Vendor of FPE Replacement Circuit Breakers

UBI Replacement circuit breakers sold for FPE replacement - 5-16-2014 incident report (C) InspectApedia.comThese comments on FPE Stab-Lok replacement breakers were originally posted by a manufacturer sales representative as comments to FPE Stab-Lok® : FIRES WAITING TO HAPPEN.

The photo of gray circuit breakers shown at left illustrate UBI-brand replacement circuit breakers, provided by reader E.K. (2014) who included this image in an FPE UBI breaker field failure report described at FPE FAILURE FIELD REPORTS. [Click to enlarge any image]

The following is OPINION of the reader who was at the time of writing a sales manager for Connecticut Electric, a vendor of replacement circuit breakers for a variety of electrical panels.

Reader Comment: You do not have to replace your entire FPE panel

(Apr 8, 2014) Mike said:

You do not have to replace your entire panel if you have Federal pacific Stab-lok style breakers. There is a company, Connecticut-Electric, Inc that makes brand new, ETL listed, same test as UL, circuit breakers that are safe to use and completely safety agency listed.

There seams to be a "red scare' out there about these breakers, yes, there were some issues. Even the federal government couldn't make a decision based upon the facts present to say that Federal Pacific breakers are actually unsafe. Why spend all that money replacing your entire panel, which most electrician love to hear. They just see dollar signs.

Reply: be careful:

Watch out: 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.

(Apr 8, 2014) (mod) said:

Mike,

In my OPINION, I cannot imagine worse advice than your opinion stated below. There are several very serious concerns:

  1. the "replacement breakers" that you cite have no evidence of performing any differently than the unreliable ones they replace
  2. the underlying design problems that lead to breaker no-trips and bus connector burn-ups and on occasion more serious losses, remain when the panel remains
  3. In addition to having been found guilty of fraud, label switching, cheating on breaker qualification tests, and other improper practices, independent research has consistently shown that the product fails to respond to overcurrent at a stunning rate, in the 60% range for 2 pole breakers, in an industry where overall circuit breakers fail to trip in response to overcurrent at a fraction much less than 1%.
  4. FPE Stab-Lok electrical panels and circuit breakers are a latent safety hazard. That means that the product does not itself initiate a failure or fire. The breakers may also remain "on" internally when apparently switched off - a good way to electrocute someone. It's a latent safety hazard just sitting there, failing to protect when it's called upon in an emergency. That may explain why this "sleeping dog" while it remains asleep - not called on to perform - seems just fine. There's no need for panic, but there is a need to replace the equipment.
  5. On one point we might agree, that is that some electrical repair companies, electricians, and product vendors might improve sales based on consumer fear. For this reason we point out that

Really? One wonders who Mike is and what might be his connection with the company he touts.

Reader follow-up comments "Would you prefer that this escalated further? "

(Apr 9, 2014) Mike said:

DanJoeFriedman,

You are correct, My position with Connecticut Electric is inside sales.

We make the UBIF line of circuit breakers, Which is a Federal Pacific REPLACEMENT circuit breaker that is ETL listed to the UL molded case 489 standard. We have been manufacturing for nearly 20 years the UBIF breakers, and have not seen an issue with the design or function.

You claims of unsafe, recalls, and fire hazards, etc are all based upon fiction. You are making false claims. Would you prefer that this escalated further?

Reply: Stating the FPE Hazard Accurately

(Apr 9, 2014) (mod) said:

Mike, with all due respect, and appreciation that you want to discuss this matter, you completely mis-state the CPSC position. The issue was not closed with a statement of absence of evidence. The history of the matter is that CPSC management, in negotiation with FPE attorneys decades ago, overrode their own engineers and the results of that work to decide to stop the investigation.

There is not a shred of doubt that the hazards are real. That information is supported by the CPSC's research, by very extensive independent research, and by decades of reports of serious failures, fires, and even a few fatalities.

Before you try threats or other silly action that could embarrass you, you should read the independent research in this matter.

Take a look at

The updated test report of independent testing (a large 1.2MB PDF file) using a larger pool of FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers than the older CPSC and Wright Malta tests found

Also see

Mike,

If you have independent research on the failure rates of FPE replacement breakers from various sources, we would be glad to see it and would be glad to add that to information for our readers to consider.

It would be great for consumers if there were a field repair for FPE equipment that addressed the breaker hazards, bus hazards, and that were supported by independent research.

Unfortunately, just plugging in a breaker from an unknown (or possibly even a known source some of which included both used and new old stock FPE breakers) into an existing FPE panel does not address the known hazards. To date, the effective repair that may be less costly than a whole new panel has been the installation of CH's replacement bus and breaker assemblies.

InspectAPedia.com® is an independent publisher of building, environmental, and forensic inspection, diagnosis, and repair information for the public - we have no business nor financial connection with any manufacturer or service provider discussed at our website.

We are dedicated to making our information as accurate, complete, useful, and unbiased as possible: we very much welcome critique, questions, or content suggestions for our web articles provided discourse is polite and informed. Threats from Mike (no last name provided) or his company are in my OPINION a poor substitute for unbiased data, research, and data.

Finally, Aronstein's research has been continued by another independent electrical engineering researcher, David Carrier who has added additional brands and breaker sources to the mix; to my knowledge that work is ongoing and additional results have not been released.

As Mr. Carrier has continued independent testing of circuit breakers for no-trip failures, if you are interested in providing [funding for an in-the-market-place purchase of ] some of your product for independent testing let me know and I'll check with David - I'd expect that he'd welcome a chance to have a source of new or old product for failure testing.

[Aronstein has pointed out the importance of testing circuit breakers that are obtained in the same market place in which consumers will purchase them, thus avoiding any suggestion that any manufacturer might have pre-tested, pre-qualified, or otherwise skewed independent test results with product supplied directly from its producer. ]

Daniel

FPE - UBI Replacement Circuit Breaker Discussion Continued [with a vendor of replacement breakers]

(Mar 13, 2012) Anonymous said:

Dan, the one point that I find very confusing is why Schneider-Federal Pioneer Stablok panels and breakers have not been shown to have an elevated risk of danger--except for the relatively few breakers subject to the recall. If the stablok design is inherently dangerous, Federal Pioneer breakers should seize frequently enough to result in a "body count."

It does seem that the one FPE panel shown has buss corresponding to Jesse Aronstein's "Type C," direct insertion; is this the main difference? If so, does it reduce heating to a sufficient extent to a sufficient extent that the better environment overcomes any inherent inadequacy in the breaker design?

Also, when you describe Asian replacement stab-loks as similarly inadequate, are the breakers you tested NRTL-listed?
Thanks

(Oct 2, 2012) Mike said:

Still have seen nothing regarding FPE Replacements, such as being made by American Circuit Breaker, except, "not recommended", "no evidence the replacement is any better", etc., and other opinions. The testing and research into FPE is extensive and proven.

Why, as you have many resources available to minutely test the originals, do you rely on mere opinion and conjecture regarding the replacements. In my experience, I have seen none of the supposed problems with the so called "split buses" buses or other parts of the FPE panel, excepting wire bending radius inadequacies, so it seems a replacement of the FPE breakers with AMC breakers would work satisfactorily. AMC has been UL tested, and approved. They have not been proved to be unsafe.

Reply:

Anon and Mike:

There are certainly field reports of FP failures from the Canadian product, but in point of fact we have very little data from the Canadian installations and too few tested breaker samples to support an unequivocal conclusion about their performance. However, in speaking with a Schneider engineer several years ago, it was made clear that there was no product redesign from the original defective FPE design.

I asked Schneider where their manufacturing line equipment came from, figuring that perhaps the manufacture, testing, or QA were different from the offending plant(s) in the U.S. but the company appeared to get nervous and declined to offer further information.

Keep in mind that the FPE defects are a latent hazard - the breakers fail to respond properly to an overcurrent. If an overcurrent does not happen, no evidence of failure shows up. We do not have a study of differences in electrical wiring and installations between the U.S. & Canadian homes, nor a study of differences in frequency of overcurrent events - in particular, interruptible electrical ignition events in which a fire will be caused ONLY if the protection device is defective, improperly sized, mis-wired, tapered with.

Mike,

I much appreciate the discussion, but with respect, your comments and conclusions about the safety of FPE equipment are simply incorrect. The articles found in this section draw from, quote, cite testing that has been performed through 2012.

And I think you'll find that we have documented that the FPE replacements are the identical design, in fact are generally, new old stock that was purchased from FPE. I have asked experts to keep us informed about any additional testing of FPE, FP (Canadian equipment now sold by Schneider) and of the replacement market products.

In fact as the article above cites and Aronstein confirms, testing included a limited number of replacement FPE circuit breakers. No-trip failures were encountered in that group as well.

Aronstein also points out that self-selection of product submitted for "independent" testing is itself problematic. At least in past experiences manufacturers first screened product to weed out failing devices before submitting the remainder for testing. And as you know from reading FPE history, there was still more serious test fraud occurring in the in-house tests.

Excerpting from FPE Stab-Lok® : FIRES WAITING TO HAPPEN where you also posted comments and where we provide more details, and again earlier on this page we cite independently-conducted FPE circuit breaker studies and more-recently (into 2017) replacement FPE-breaker failure rate studies.

 

What's needed is an amended circuit breaker test procedure that obtains breakers for testing from the open marketplace, from the very same sources that will be used by consumers and electricians when buying replacement circuit breakers.

Watch out: Finally, the fact that you have not personally seen "supposed problems", while it is an understandable reaction, is not sound. One individual's experience is hardly a technically sound approach to product evaluation. Or putting it in fancier language, absence of evidence in one person's personal experience is hardly evidence of absence of a problem. In fact we have both independent test results indicating no-trip failures and field reports indicating no-trip failures of these devices.

Notice: In subsequent discussion reader Mike informed us [the editor] that he works in sales for Connecticut Electric, a vendor of replacement FPE circuit breakers - Ed.

Notice: The information provided at InspectApedia.com may not be taken as an endorsement of any company, service, or product. Separately at UBI FPE CIRCUIT BREAKER TEST RESULTS readers can see the results of preliminary tests of a modest sample of UBI circuit breakers used as FPE breaker replacements. A significant no-trip failure rate was found in the FPE replacement breaker samples tested to date. Those tests continue on additional samples and are performed by an independent expert.

InspectAPedia is an independent publisher of building, environmental, and forensic inspection, diagnosis, and repair information provided free to the public - we have no business nor financial connection with any manufacturer or service provider discussed at our website.

Contact Information for Connecticut Electric & Unique Breakers Inc., (UBI circuit breakers)

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Continue reading at UBI FPE CIRCUIT BREAKER TEST RESULTS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see FPE Stab-Lok® : FIRES WAITING TO HAPPEN opinion about the FPE hazard

Or see FPE FAILURE FIELD REPORTS over 270 field reports of FPE failures, incidents, fires & events in the U.S. & Canada

Or see FPE FAILURE FIRE PHOTOS Field reports & photos of FPE Stab-Lok® panel or breaker incidents & Field photographs of FPE Stab-Lok® equipment failures

Or see FPE REPLACEMENT PANEL safety improvement options

Or see FPE REPLACEMENT BREAKERS - Advice about replacing FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers

Also see ZINSCO CIRCUIT BREAKER TEST REPORT

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