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Federal Pacific Electrical Panels


Have you ever given much thought to your electrical panel? Most homeowners don’t, until something goes wrong. But did you know that the type of electrical panel in your home can have a significant impact on the safety and functionality of your electrical system? This is especially true for those living in older homes, like the ones scattered throughout North Providence, Rhode Island, and the rest of the United States. As a licensed electrician, it is important for me to educate homeowners on the potential dangers of outdated electrical panels, particularly the Federal Pacific panels that were commonly installed in homes during the mid-20th century.

At B&K Electric, a family-owned and operated business based in Warwick, Rhode Island, we have been providing electrical repair, panel maintenance, and installation services to residents in Cranston, Warwick, and surrounding areas for over 17 years. As the owner, I have seen firsthand the hazards that Federal Pacific panels can pose, and it is my mission to spread awareness and encourage homeowners to take action to ensure the safety of their homes and families.

Federal Pacific Electrical Panels: What You Need to Know

So what exactly are Federal Pacific electrical panels? In the 1950s and 1960s, Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) was one of the leading manufacturers of electrical panels, supplying thousands of homes and buildings across the US. These panels were known for their cost-effectiveness and were often installed in low to mid-range priced homes. However, over the years, numerous reports and studies have shown that these panels have significant design and manufacturing flaws that can put homeowners at risk for electrical fires and shocks.

The main issue with Federal Pacific panels is their failure to trip during an overload or short circuit. When an excessive amount of current flows through the electrical panel, the circuit breaker is designed to trip and cut off the power supply to that specific circuit. This is a crucial safety feature that prevents overheating and fires. However, in the case of Federal Pacific panels, the circuit breakers often fail to trip, leaving the circuit vulnerable to overheating and causing a potential fire hazard.

In 1982, a class-action lawsuit was filed against FPE, stating that the company was aware of the issues with their panels but failed to address them properly. As a result, they were ordered to pay $10 million in damages and cease manufacturing electrical panels in the US. Yet, millions of homes across the country still have these panels installed today, leaving homeowners at risk.

The Risks for Homeowners

As a homeowner, it is essential to understand the potential risks associated with Federal Pacific panels. These include:

1. Increased risk of electrical fires: When an overloaded circuit fails to trip, the wires can overheat and start a fire. The lack of safety mechanisms in these panels makes them more prone to causing fires compared to other types of panels.

2. Safety hazards: Federal Pacific panels are also known to malfunction and cause electrical shocks. This can be particularly dangerous for small children or older adults who may have weaker immune systems.

3. Difficulty obtaining insurance: In recent years, insurance companies have become aware of the risks associated with Federal Pacific panels and may deny coverage or charge higher premiums for homes with these panels installed.

4. Difficulty selling homes: If you plan to sell your home in the future, having a Federal Pacific panel can be a huge red flag for potential buyers. Most home inspectors will recommend replacing the panel, which can be a costly and time-consuming process.

What Can Homeowners Do?

If you are a homeowner with a Federal Pacific panel, it is highly recommended to have it replaced by a licensed and experienced electrician. At B&K Electric, we specialize in panel maintenance and installation and can help you find a safer and more reliable alternative to the outdated Federal Pacific panels. Some of the options include upgrading to a modern circuit breaker panel or a more advanced panel with added safety features.

It is crucial to note that attempting to replace an electrical panel on your own can be extremely dangerous and should always be left to a qualified professional. Our team at B&K Electric is fully licensed and insured, and we have extensive experience with electrical panel replacements. We will ensure that your new panel is up to code and properly installed for optimal safety and functionality.

In Conclusion

It is essential for homeowners to prioritize the safety of their homes and families. As we have seen, Federal Pacific panels can pose serious risks, and it is imperative that homeowners take the necessary steps to replace these outdated and potentially hazardous panels. With B&K Electric, you can trust that your home will be in good hands, and we will work with you to find the best solution for your specific needs. Don’t wait until it’s too late – contact us today to schedule a consultation and ensure the safety of your home’s electrical system.


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