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Federal Pacific Electric Panels


As a homeowner, it’s easy to overlook the importance of your electrical panel. It’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind component of your home, quietly providing power to your appliances and devices. But what if that very panel poses a hidden danger to your home and loved ones?

This is a reality that many homeowners in the zip code 02903 Downtown Providence, Rhode Island area may be facing without even realizing it. Despite its small size, the electrical panel plays a crucial role in the functioning of your home. And if you have a Federal Pacific Electric Panel (FPE) in your home, it’s time to pay attention.

B&K Electric, a family-owned and operated electrical business based in Warwick, RI, has been serving the residents of Cranston, Warwick, and all of Rhode Island for over seventeen years. We specialize in electrical repair, panel maintenance, and installation, making us your go-to electrician for your home or business in the Warwick area and the greater Providence Area.

But before we delve into the dangers of FPE panels, it’s essential to understand the basics of electrical panels and their importance in your home.

The Role of Electrical Panels

Electrical panels, also known as circuit breaker boxes or fuse boxes, are the distribution point of your home’s electrical system. They receive electricity from the utility company and distribute it to the different circuits in your home. These circuits supply power to various appliances, outlets, and light fixtures, ensuring that your home is adequately and safely powered.

Electrical panels are equipped with either circuit breakers or fuses, which act as safety devices, monitoring the flow of electricity and cutting it off if there is an overload or short circuit. This protects your home from electrical fires and damage to your appliances.

Federal Pacific Electric Panels: The Hidden Danger

Between the 1950s and 1980s, Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panels were among the most commonly used electrical panels in homes across the United States. It was estimated that millions of homes were built with FPE panels during this time period.

At first glance, FPE panels may seem functional and safe, but appearances can be deceiving. Over the years, these panels have been found to have a major flaw that poses a significant safety hazard for homeowners – the breakers or circuit fuses often fail to trip during an overload or short circuit, putting your home at risk of electrical fires. In fact, tests have shown that FPE breakers only trip 25% of the time, leaving the other 75% of the time for an electrical fire to break out.

In addition, FPE panels were also found to have manufacturing defects that can cause the breakers to malfunction and potentially overheat or cause an electrical arc, further increasing the risk of fire.

So why were these dangerous panels used in the first place? Unfortunately, it all comes down to greed. In order to cut costs, FPE used substandard materials and skipped vital testing and certification processes, putting profits over the safety of homeowners. As a result, FPE was eventually forced to shut down after multiple lawsuits and class-action lawsuits were filed against them.

Signs of a Federal Pacific Electric Panel

If your home was built between the 1950s and 1980s, it may be worth having a licensed electrician, like B&K Electric, inspect your electrical panel to determine if you have an FPE panel. However, there are a few visible signs that can help you identify if you have an FPE panel in your home.

– Look for the label on the panel cover. FPE panels often have a red or orange label with the company’s logo and the words ‘Federal Pacific Electric’ or ‘FPE’ on it.

– Check the style of the breakers. FPE panels typically have thin, colorful breakers with black switches. If your breakers are a different brand or style, it’s unlikely that you have an FPE panel.

– Observe any unusual behavior with your electrical system. If your breakers are constantly tripping or your lights flicker without any apparent reason, it could be a sign of a faulty FPE panel.

The Consequences of Keeping an FPE Panel in Your Home

As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your home is safe for you, your family, and your property. Continuing to use an FPE panel puts you and your loved ones at risk of an electrical fire. If your home is insured and an electrical fire occurs due to an FPE panel, your insurance company may refuse to cover the damages, leaving you with hefty repair or rebuilding costs.

In addition, if you’re looking to sell your home, a potential buyer’s home inspection may reveal an FPE panel, causing them to back out of the deal and devaluing your property.

Replacing Your FPE Panel

If an inspection reveals that you have an FPE panel in your home, the safest course of action is to have it replaced as soon as possible. As licensed electricians, B&K Electric has the expertise and experience to properly and safely remove and replace your FPE panel with a newer, safer panel.

Your safety is our top priority, which is why we also provide regular panel maintenance services to ensure that your electrical system is always functioning correctly and safely.

Don’t Wait, Act Now

Don’t wait until it’s too late to address the dangers of a Federal Pacific Electric Panel in your home. Call B&K Electric today to schedule an inspection and take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of your home and loved ones.


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