1

I just learned of safety issues with Federal Pioneer electrical panels. I have a house built in 2002/2003 (Canada) which has a Federal Pioneer panel, presumably of 2002 manufacture. Will it present the same hazard as older panels or would the safety issues present in older panels not exist in mine?

1

Meet Schneider Electric's red-headed stepchild

Since about the mid-1980s, Schneider Electric Canada has been the one responsible for the (re)design and manufacture of the Federal Pioneer Stab-Lok product line. While reliable information on the Federal Pioneer product line is scarce, there has been evidence that Schneider Canada has acted to clean up the most egregrious design flaws with the Federal Pioneer Stab-Lok product line, mainly in the form of recalls of Stab-Lok breakers that appear to be of somewhat later designs than the original Federal Pacific type NA and show proper concern for electrical safety on the part of Schneider Canada.

Considering the recent vintage of your panel, I would monitor it, preferably with periodic infrared camera inspections to catch failing connections. Having an electrician familiar with Federal Pacific/Federal Pioneer design flaws take it apart and inspect its innards visually may be valuable as well -- they may be able to tell you if your panel has retained any of the "red flag" busbar design errors that contribute significantly to the fire hazard old Federal Pacific panels pose. Furthermore, a panel that new is highly unlikely to be a "split bus" or "rule of six" design -- a panel with a single main disconnect is potentially less vulnerable to being rendered completely irrelevant due to common-trip jamming faults in two-pole branch breakers than the "rule of six" design was.

I do not recommend, however, any "testing" of branch circuit breakers, especially in-situ; the required fault currents to properly test a breaker's magnetic trip capability are highly hazardous in the case of a failure, and it is practically impossible to get a sufficiently accurate "calibrated short" in the field anyway. Furthermore, breakers are rated for a limited number of cycles at their nameplate interrupting current -- after they reach this limit, replacement is required to guarantee maintenance of their interrupting capability.

  • In the US I wont repair FPE stablock panels only replace them because of liability issues with the panels. I have read that the Canadian models were better or did not have all the problems that the models used in the U.S. had. This answer provides some good guidance on watching for trouble. + – Ed Beal Dec 6 '16 at 14:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.