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FEDERAL PACIFIC


zeb
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Ok,,,, I know that we have been here a Billion times, However I had my head up my a?&.. I have a client that is looking at a Federal Pacific Stab lock Panel and it comes with a house. I would like to give him some resources that he could read and make a good decision as to buy the house or to pass.. Info please and I will forward to him.

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Go to the Code Check website and look up Douglas Hansen's excellent article detailing the problems with FPE design. It isn't hard to find.

I tell clients I wouldn't live in a house with an FPE panel; that's the truth. Either the panel or the house would have to go.

Brian G.

Tell It Like It Is [:-hot]

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Depending on the size and number of breakers in the panel.....the enclosure itself is not always the problem, Yeah I hear the breakers jump out but thats obviously when you remove thed dead front as I see plenty of FPE's that are in great working order EXCEPT for the breakers which are actually not UL "properly" listed....because they lied...so here are some solutions..

1.) Get a Cutler Hammer Inner Retro-Kit and change it over to a cutler hammer panelboard inner frame and use the FPE enclosure itself...perfectly UL listed.

2.) Replace the FPE breakers with newer UL listed breakers......which HAVE properly passed the UL process.

3.) Simple replace the panel......However.....if we are talking less than 20 breakers....option (2) is what I would go with.

Either way....I do this everyday and I would not have a problem with a stab-lok with the newer replacement breakers in it.

A properly installed stab-lok I really don't have all that much concern over really....the largest concern I have with the FPE is the breakers itself....they just don't trip....the new ones do and they are made by Challenger or American but do run about $ 16.00 a piece.......so that is why I said if under 20 breakers...it is an option.....

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Hey fella......Yep it might but then we are talking LABOR......factor in 4-6 hours of labor versus say 20 minutes to replace the breakers.....just an option fella...don't kill the messenger...:)

16.00 x 20 = $ 320.00 and labor 1 hour $ 65.00hr = $ 385.00

Me doing a total panel change....$ 1,500- $ 2,000.....so thats why I say it really depends on the number of breakers...less than 20 and it becomes cost effective to just upgrade the breakers to UL Listed ones that have been TRULY tested.

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Oh yeah.....it is a regional thing I am sure but then again really GOOD electricians make the big bucks...thehehe

But even at $ 800.00....if the panel looks VERY nice...which I see alot of them and a properly installed FPE stab-lok NEWER UL Listed breaker...designed for that panel....and less than 20 breakers.....heck they could be safe for less than $ 400.00 so it all depends on the clients budget.

My belief is........and how I train HI's is to offer advice...it is ONLY advice and they should always consult with a licensed electrician...but if they are NOT going to do anything.....replacing the breakers is a good SAFETY upgrade and atleast another option for the client....as I see alot of 100A panels with less than 20 breakers being FPE....so they need to know their options.

But I can agree...as an Electrician as my REAL fulltime job.....I have no problem upgrading that panel and charging my fee...:) after all business is business.....but I still like my clients to know their options.

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Jim,

So what I find alot is this.....so Mr. Hanson explains the problems with the buss bar....can you please explain why it is a problem when installed properly and the fact I run into improperly installed Cutler Hammer, Square D and GE breakers all the time that melt down and cause fires. Stat wise I do not believe a properly installed FPE Stab-lok has caused any more fire potential than any other electrical panel.....now the breakers are a different story and we explained that above.

The issue here is an improperly installed Circuit Breaker by anyone could be a problem, a CB that is installed incorrectly can effect the connection gap on the buss bar on any brand, induce a load on it an it could have issues like ANY other panelboard with improperly installed breakers.

If the buss bar for the breaker terminations is overheating due to improper installation you will see discoloring on the connecton bar.....but I have ripped out 90% meltdowned breakers from all manufacturers and to be honest with you...and again it is my opinion ( as Douglas has his own ) that a properly installed FPE (newly UL listed version ) are safe.

hey I fully understand many will not agree...I can only give you my experience.

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Originally posted by kurt

I find myself thinking I wish Abernathy lived in Chicago.

Can you imagine, someone skilled & competent, who offered options for repair instead of jamming a new 200 amp panel down your throat?

I'd think I'd died & gone to heaven....[:-angel]

lol....well I find the laws of Chicago area a bit funny...I honestly would not work in that area because I LOVE NMC and feel personally it is safer than metal conduit....because of the wide range of improper bonding issues....and again not all FPE's meet the nice and clean label...lol....but some do but in Chicago I could not live with all that metal conduit requirements...lol

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What's NMC? There's something called "rope" that the heathen outlanders use, but the true believes won't let us have it.

My motto is "If it ain't rigid, don't use it". Wait a minute, that's not about NMC......

After decades of seeing & using nothing but EMT, 4" metal boxes, & mud rings sized to wall finish, I find myself looking @ NMC jobs & wondering WTF is this stuff? It's crazy, but you get used to crazy when it's all you see.

I think what I like most are the 4x4 metal boxes; solid mounts, and room to move.

I'm a complete devotee of EMT on renovations when one is trying snake new wiring through all the areas one has to snake. Nice hard pipe, and I don't have to worry that I've got exposed wiring too close to stud faces, or someone mangling the pull through an old wall full of lath & lath tacks.

Re: FPE......

I'm not the one to have final word, but just the look of those crappy bus connections makes me queasy. Why would anyone design something that stupid looking? It's really easy for me to imagine loose connections w/that arrangement. I'll take your word for it that CH & SqD have connection problems also, but at least the connection looks like someone w/some practical experience designed them.

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Originally posted by zeb

Should I pull a breaker(s) out during an inspection to check the bus bar? I beleive it is outside the scope of the inspection.

I don't even pull the covers on FPE panels because I've had several where the breakers literally fell out & dangled on their respective wires.

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Originally posted by zeb

Should I pull a breaker(s) out during an inspection to check the bus bar? I beleive it is outside the scope of the inspection.

It's clearly outside the scope. But more importantly, it may be illegal for you to do so unless you're an electrician or are working under the supervision of one.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Word of caution to everyone. I hope that Y'all are wearing safety glasses whey you are removing the panel covers. If not you need to start. Most importantly it should be an automatic movement to reach and put safety glasses on when you look at an FPE panel.

If the panel arc's it will send liquid metal at high speeds in all directions.

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Originally posted by kurt

What's NMC? There's something called "rope" that the heathen outlanders use, but the true believes won't let us have it.

My motto is "If it ain't rigid, don't use it". Wait a minute, that's not about NMC......

After decades of seeing & using nothing but EMT, 4" metal boxes, & mud rings sized to wall finish, I find myself looking @ NMC jobs & wondering WTF is this stuff? It's crazy, but you get used to crazy when it's all you see.

I think what I like most are the 4x4 metal boxes; solid mounts, and room to move.

I'm a complete devotee of EMT on renovations when one is trying snake new wiring through all the areas one has to snake. Nice hard pipe, and I don't have to worry that I've got exposed wiring too close to stud faces, or someone mangling the pull through an old wall full of lath & lath tacks.

Re: FPE......

I'm not the one to have final word, but just the look of those crappy bus connections makes me queasy. Why would anyone design something that stupid looking? It's really easy for me to imagine loose connections w/that arrangement. I'll take your word for it that CH & SqD have connection problems also, but at least the connection looks like someone w/some practical experience designed them.

I hear ya fella....the problem I find is this. There are far fewer ways to KILL someone with Non-Metalic Cable than with Rigid or EMT due to improper bonding and so on.

Everytime I teach about bonding and so on with regards to conduits.....I find more and more screw ups that could cause more of an issue than good ole' NMC cable....hell if it is in the walls as it SHOULD be and installed properly...NMC is as safe if not safer than any other wiring method....Improper bonding with metal conduit systems is more of an issue to be aware of....

Heck Me...I LOVE romex...:)

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Oh, I know. There's very few good reasons for EMT. It's like anything else though; once you get used to it, it's how you think.

I can trace an EMT path, look @ couplings, bushings, & connections, and pretty much know what's going on w/grounding & bonding. When I see NMC, I see a tangle of wires and wonder how anyone can be sure they've got them all tied together like they're supposed to be. It's bewildering.

I'm not in favor of the crazed world of Chicago electrical installations & union driven code requirements; it just happens to be where I am. Someday we'll get NMC, but it's nowhere on the horizon; too many union jobs would go down if they allowed EMT.

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Technically, Glencoe allows it, but no contractor will install it.

No one is going to install it in Oak Park either; still gotta be licensed union in Oak Park, and the brotherhood is circling the wagons to prevent anyone from crossing over.

I wouldn't call NMC silly; I just look @ it and I'm confused.

Put another way.....

Affordable housing will never be a reality in Chicago until things like NMC are allowed. The politicians all make noise about affordable housing, but no one will line up against the union & take the action that's necessary to put laws in place so affordable housing can exist.

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Originally posted by Jesse

All you Chicagoland folks: Oak Park now allows Romex, "but only if it's new." Do you know of any other suburbs that allow NMC?

I, for now, still see a bunch of Romex as Kurt does: foreign, and a little silly. Some day, I'll grow up. Maybe.

McHenry, Woodstock, Bull Valley, Grayslake, and lots of far south places (Channahon, Peotone, etc.) Got's to go to the boonies.

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