Federal Pacific Electric Panel Safety Information

Important Safety Message to Maui Homeowners:

Does your panel look like this?
Old electrical panels.

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What you don’t know about your Electric Panel COULD hurt you!
Your Electric Panel may not be your Friend just when you Need One!


Click to download PDF of documentI’d like to call your attention to a potentially dangerous type of electric panel that may be in your very own home, or in those of your relatives, friends and neighbors here in Hawaii. The panel can be a fire hazard and has been the cause of fires and electric panel burnouts in the United States and Canada for a number of years. These panels were made by Federal Pacific Electric Company and it is commonly referred to as “FPE Stablok” or just “FPE”. It was a very widely used panel from the 1950’s through the 1980’s throughout the United States. There are a large number of these panels installed on Maui and we have found homes with these panels in neighborhoods all over Maui. There are a number of websites that you can visit that will give you lots more information on the problems with these electrical panels. Two of them are www.ismypanelsafe.com and www.inspectapedia.com/fpe/fpepanel.htm

A lot of folks might think, “Well, this panel has been here all these years and I’ve never had a problem. Why should I do something now?”. My response to that is, first, these panels and breakers can be as old as 50 years. Anything that is 50 years old is due for replacement, no matter what it is, especially if it is guarding your home and family. In addition to the risk of your panel failing or burning out, a major expense and inconvenience, there is a very real possibility that an FPE circuit breaker, if called upon to trip, may trip too late to prevent damage or may fail to trip at all. Tests have shown that over half of the breakers tested failed to trip at 135% of their rated load. This means when the circuit breaker is supposed to be protecting a circuit at 20 amps and should trip at anything over 20 amps it still failed to trip at 27 amps. That is a very serious problem and the heat that can build up in an extended overload period could ultimately break down components of your wiring and lead to a fire. We never know when a fault may occur that would result in a tripping breaker. You may be having an overload at this very time and not be aware of it. I think you will agree on the importance of having circuit breakers in your home that will trip rather than circuit breakers that may not trip. One insurance company that I recently read about had a rule: “Stablok? Out!”. I don’t know what your homeowners insurance policy is regarding older or obsolete electrical panels, but we at Valley Isle Electric recommend that anything over 30 years old be replaced with new and up to date equipment.

This notice is intended to inform and educate you to the potential hazard that could be existing in your home. It is up to you to ultimately do what is best for you and your family. Valley Isle Electric has considerable experience in replacing FPE panels and are continuously educating our customers as to the potential danger that lurks with these and other older panels. Removing these unsafe panels and replacing them with a new modern panel is the only way to correct the problem and we at Valley Isle Electric are experienced and skilled at doing this. You can have a brand new safe and modern panel installed in one day, and there will be no mess and in most cases nothing to patch or paint. We will be happy to come to your home and answer any questions you may have regarding this or any other electrical issue. A call to your home always includes an inspection of your meter panel and your electrical sub panel to determine its type and the condition it is in. We will also check to see if your smoke detectors are in place and working, and if there is Ground Fault Protection and Arc Fault protection where it is required.

We also strongly recommend that homeowners “whole house” surge protection in place to protect their appliances and electronic equipment from both outside and inside surges. We will answer all of your questions about surge protection on a visit to your home.

Your electrical system should protect you, not threaten you! The phone number to schedule a visit is 242-1974. Do the right thing. We’ll welcome your call. We even offer free electric home inspections.

If you are living in this home and you are not the owner, for your safety, please forward this information to the owners, or your property management company.

Don Varni, President
Valley Isle Electric

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