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Federal Pacific Panel


As a homeowner, one of the most important aspects that you need to pay attention to is the electrical system of your house. The electrical panel, also known as the breaker box, is the heart of your electrical system. It distributes power throughout your home, ensuring that all your appliances and devices have the electricity they need to function properly.

However, not all electrical panels are created equal. One type in particular has gained a lot of attention and controversy over the years – the Federal Pacific Panel. If you are a homeowner in Downtown Providence, Rhode Island (zip code 02903), you may have come across this type of panel and have questions about its safety and reliability. In this article, we will delve into what a federal pacific panel is, its history, potential dangers, and alternative options for homeowners in the Warwick and greater Providence area.

We at B&K Electric are here to guide you through this topic and provide you with valuable insights that will help you make informed decisions when it comes to your home’s electrical system. Our family-owned and operated business has been serving the residents of Rhode Island for over seventeen years, specializing in electrical repair, panel maintenance, and installation. Being based in Warwick, we are just a stone’s throw away from Downtown Providence, and our team is dedicated to providing exceptional customer service to our community. Make us your go-to electrician for all your electrical needs in the Warwick area and beyond.

What is a Federal Pacific Panel?

A Federal Pacific Panel (FPE) is an electrical panel that was commonly installed in homes from the 1950s to the 1980s. This type of panel was manufactured by the company Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) and was widely used due to its affordability and availability during that time. These panels were also known as Stab-Lok panels, named after the brand’s unique design of stab-in circuit breakers.

In simple terms, a federal pacific panel is responsible for receiving electricity from the grid and distributing it throughout your home. It is composed of various circuit breakers, which are designed to detect and interrupt any electrical overload or short circuit, preventing potential fires and electrical damage to your home. These breakers are essentially switches that can be continuously turned on and off to regulate the flow of electricity.

History of Federal Pacific Panels

Although federal pacific panels were popular during their time, they have a controversial and concerning history. In the 1980s, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) conducted a series of tests on FPE panels and found that a significant number of them did not meet safety standards. The tests showed that the breakers were not tripping when they were supposed to, leading to potential electrical hazards such as fires and electrocutions.

In 1983, the CPSC released a report stating that FPE panels were not safe and recommended further investigation and action. However, no recall was issued due to a lack of resources and funding. This meant that millions of homes across the United States still had these dangerous panels installed, putting homeowners at risk.

But the controversy surrounding FPE panels does not end there. In a 2002 study conducted by a professional engineer, it was found that these panels had a potentially fatal flaw – a design flaw in the circuit breakers that could cause them to fail to trip, even if a short circuit occurred. This means that even if a homeowner attempted to reset the breaker, it would not protect against an electrical overload. This brought to light the severity of the issue and reinforced the need for homeowners to replace their federal pacific panels.

Potential Dangers of Federal Pacific Panels

The main concern with federal pacific panels is their inability to trip or shut off during an electrical overload, increasing the chances of an electrical fire. As a homeowner in Providence, Rhode Island, it is essential to understand the potential dangers of having a federal pacific panel in your home and the importance of getting it replaced by a licensed electrician.

Apart from the obvious risk of fire, there are also concerns about the quality of the breakers themselves. FPE panels were found to have manufacturing defects, making them more prone to malfunctioning and causing electrocutions. Furthermore, the company has been accused of falsifying Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety certifications for their panels, giving homeowners a false sense of security and further adding to the controversy.

Another issue that homeowners may face with federal pacific panels is that they are outdated and unable to support the increasing electrical demands of modern homes. With the advancement of technology and the increasing number of electrical devices in homes, these panels may not be equipped to handle the load, leading to frequent power outages and the need for constant repairs.

What are the Alternatives for Homeowners?

If you are a homeowner in Providence, Rhode Island, and have a federal pacific panel in your home, the safest and most practical option would be to have it replaced. However, as these panels were once widely used, it is essential to hire a licensed and knowledgeable electrician who is familiar with the issues surrounding FPE panels. At B&K Electric, our team of professionals has the expertise to remove your FPE panel and replace it with a newer, safer, and more reliable panel.

Some of the alternative options for homeowners looking to replace their federal pacific panels include:

1. Upgrading to a newer panel: One option would be to upgrade to a newer panel that meets modern safety standards and can support the electrical demands of your home. These panels use more advanced technology, making them less prone to malfunctions and safer for homeowners.

2. Installing a whole-house surge protector: A whole-house surge protector is installed at the main electrical panel and is designed to protect your entire home against power surges. This can add an extra layer of protection and help prevent potential damage to your electrical system.

3. Installing an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI): AFCIs are specifically designed to detect and shut off power when an electrical arc occurs. This can help protect against potential fire hazards and is now required by the National Electric Code for all new homes.

Concluding concepts

Federal pacific panels have a controversial history and pose several safety concerns for homeowners. As a homeowner in Downtown Providence, Rhode Island, it is crucial to be aware of the potential dangers of these panels and the importance of having them replaced. At B&K Electric, we understand the significance of having a safe and reliable electrical system in your home and are dedicated to providing top-notch services to the residents of Warwick and the greater Providence area.

If you suspect that your home may have a federal pacific panel, do not hesitate to contact us. Let us help you protect your home and loved ones by replacing your outdated and potentially hazardous panel. Trust in B&K Electric to provide you with quality workmanship and exceptional customer service for all your electrical needs.


Federal Pacific Panel,

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