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  • Writer's picturePaul W Abernathy, CMECP®

Facts about Federal Pacific Circuit Breakers from CPSC

Updated: May 5, 2023



I have been reading A LOT of information about Federal Pacific Breakers and the statements that Home Inspectors are using in their Non-Code Inspections.


While I am not a fan of FPE and replacing them does generate revenue for the electrician. As I always say, present the facts and let the CUSTOMER decide minus the fear factor. Here is some additional reading for you.


https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/1983/Commission-Closes-Investigation-Of-FPE-Circuit-Breakers-And-Provides-Safety-Information-For-Consumers


“The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced today that it is closing its two year investigation into Federal Pacific Electric Stab-lok type residential circuit breakers. This action was taken because the data currently available to the Commission does not establish that the circuit breakers pose a serious risk of injury to consumers.”


“To meet UL standards residential circuit breakers must pass a number of so-called "calibration tests."





The purpose of these tests is to determine whether the circuit breakers will hold the current for which they are rated and also automatically open or "trip" (shut off the current) within specified time limits if overloading of the circuit causes current levels in excess of the breaker's amperage rating. (Overloading can occur because a consumer plugs too many products into a circuit or due to the failure of a product or component connected to that circuit).


While the Commission is concerned about the failure of these FPE breakers to meet UL calibration requirements, the Commission is unable at this time to link these failures to the development of a hazardous situation.


According to Reliance, failures of these FPE breakers to comply with certain UL calibration requirements do not create a hazard in the household environment. It is Reliance's position that FPE breakers will trip reliably at most overload levels unless the breakers have been operated in a repetitive, abusive manner that should not occur during residential use.


Reliance maintains that at those few overload levels where FPE breakers may fail to trip under realistic use conditions, currents will be too low to generate hazardous temperatures in household wiring. Reliance believes its position in this regard is supported by test data that it provided to the Commission.


The Commission staff believes that it currently has insufficient data to accept or refute Reliance's position.”


So ultimately YOUR customers need to decide if changing them is worth their peace of mind. Do you have an alternate plan, such as replacement breakers available and so forth.


In many cases of their are more than 10 circuit breakers to replace the best option is a panel change to a more readily available brand, such as Square D. However, there are GUT replacements available by Eaton that can use the existing cabinet as well.


Point is...Give Options...Not Fear and let the customer decide and stay a HERO in their eyes and less of a "Salesman".


Paul Abernathy, CMECP® | CEO & President

Electrical Code Academy, Inc. | www.FastTraxSystem.com 3913 Edward Drive., McKinney, TX 75071 Office: 214-945-0653


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1 Comment


waffles7979
waffles7979
Jun 10, 2022

Been wondering about these breakers, I keep hearing that they don’t trip. Thanks for the information Paul!

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