I have a 100 amp (says on the panel) federal pacific but has no main disconnect. I would like to replace it with a combination panel. Is this possible as it is located behind the back door on a landing. It is a Federal Pacific 12 circuit spaces. I live in Alberta Canada. I know I have to get a permit and have it inspected. I am a 4th year electrician. Wondering if it could be done myself it main power coming in from Atco was shut off?

  • 1
    Generally if there is no main disconnect, you are looking at a sub-panel, and the main disconnect (or main panel) is elsewhere. Sometimes the main disconnect/main breaker is in an outside panel or box near the meter...
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 1, 2016 at 17:26
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    Alternately, the main breakers could simply be two of the breakers in the panel. This is called "back feeding" breakers and it is allowed if they are not GFCI or AFCI. Most of my Pushmatics do this. Aug 1, 2016 at 23:13

2 Answers 2


I'm sure you know this, but you definitely want to replace any Federal Pacific breakers in your house, as they're known to not trip, overheat, and/or catch fire! You might give the box a close inspection, my in-laws house has a Federal Pacific panel and the main panel instead of having a main disconnect breaker at the top of the panel, it has them in the rows to the side among the regular breakers, and the only way you know they're the main disconnect is the breakers are 100A each and they're marked "main" but they're the same size as the other breakers. Yours might be hiding in there as well. I'm not sure in Canada, but here in the US, unless local codes are different, if you've got a main disconnect that's separate from the rest of the panel, you can do your own work on the panel, but you can't touch the main disconnect, whereas if it's all part of the same panel, the power company won't pull the meter or otherwise disconnect it unless it's requested by a licensed electrician, and then it either has to be worked on by an electrician, or at least inspected and done up to code before they will turn the power back on. Running into this issue right now at my house, it has the original 1954 fuse panel with glass fuses and it's going to be $2500 to have it replaced!

  • I hear Federal Pacific Canada panels aren't as toxic as the USA ones. Given your situation @AndrewBowers, I would install a new panel right next to the old panel and either move or add circuits to that panel, then pay the guy to eyeball your work and cut it over. Aug 1, 2016 at 18:35
  • You're right, also after further digging it's only a specific type ("Stab-Loc") of Federal Pacific panel made up until the early 80s, (82-83 IIRC) that's prone to failure and was the result of several lawsuits, however it pretty much forever tarnished the brand. Main thing I heard to look for was to see if the breakers have a proper UL logo on them, as most of the "bad" ones didn't from what I read. As for my panel, there's not all that much room around the panel, as it's between my garage door and the wall, but that is definitely a tempting solution. Aug 1, 2016 at 19:12
  • As far as pulling the meter it depends where you live. Some states in the U.S. allow a home owner to any and all electrical work, I am not sure about Canada. You will find the FPE panels are much smaller than today's panels because more space is required now to allow for the wires and bending space. I have read that the Canadian FPE panels were better than the U.S. However the "StabLock" style has much weaker connections to the panel board than all of the other breakers on the market today and at a minimum the entire back plane needs to be examined if moving forward with a "Sub".
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 1, 2016 at 19:26

If there is no main disconnect before the panel, talk to the electric company; there may be a disconnect at the pile, or the answer may be for them to remove the meter.

More importantly, talk to a pro...

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