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Hidden Dangers of FPE Panel Stab-Lok Circuit Breakers: What You Need to Know.  >> Download ebook PDF here

Hidden Dangers FPE Panel Stab-Lok Circuit Breakers and Your Home portrait-ebook-cover | Hettler Insurance Agency, Lubbock Texas, 806-798-7800


As a homeowner, or business-owner, your top priority is the safety of your family and your property. While you may not think about it often, your electrical panel plays a crucial role in keeping your home, or business, safe by preventing electrical fires. However, if your home was built between 1950 and 1990 and is equipped with the older Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) circuit breaker panel with Stab-Lok circuit breakers, you may be at risk. Experts say that FPE panels produced during that time frame would not conform to today’s updated safety codes and would no longer be allowed to be sold to the general public.  But, the newer individual breaker component that would go inside the panel can still be bought online.

FYI: Reliance Electric (a unit of Exxon Corporation) bought FPE in 1979. Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE) is no longer a functioning business entity. In this blog post, we will delve into the potential dangers of FPE Stab-Lok circuit breaker panels, and why it is crucial to address this issue promptly by replacing possibly defective older Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) circuit breaker panels.

Due to the nature, cost, and timeframe of manufacturing of these older FPE Stab-Lok Breaker Panels, middle-aged and lower-income homeowners, especially, need to be aware of the possible existence of these breaker panels in your home (or small office building). These breaker panels still exist within millions of homes across the U.S. and Canada.  Most homeowners have no idea how dangerous these existing panels could be, that is if they even know it’s there. And, you most likely will not be able to get home insurance if you have these older circuit breakers.

The Risks of FPE Stab-Lok Circuit Breaker Panels:

FPE Stab-Lok circuit breaker panels have been under intense scrutiny due to their inherent fire and safety hazards. According to the Greater New York Mutual Insurance Company (GNY), these breakers pose a significant risk of malfunction and fire, particularly in homes built between 1950 and 1990. The circuit breakers may fail to trip properly when overloaded or in the case of a short circuit, leading to potential electrical fires, damage, or even injury to your loved ones. As relayed by Society Insurance, an in-depth study of fire reports by Washington Post suggests that “FPE Stab-Lok breakers may be responsible for as many as 2,800 fires, 13 deaths and $40 million in property damage every year.” Even if the circuit is in the “off” position, FPE Stab-Lok has been known to still power the circuit causing an electrocution hazard. We personally knew a person who died as a result of injuries sustained during a home fire determined to have been caused by the malfunction of their FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers panel. The family of this poor man was displaced for 10 months while their home was being rebuilt.

Identifying FPE Stab-Lok Panels:

It is essential to be able to identify whether your electrical panel contains FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers. Look out for labeling on the panel such as “Federal Pacific Stab Lok,” “FPE Stab-Lok,” “Stab-Lok,” “Federal NOARK,” or “Federal Pioneer” (for Canadian homes). Additionally, the switches may have red or orange labels, and the circuit breakers will be labeled as Stab-Lok (breakers must be removed to verify). If you are unsure, it is best to consult a licensed electrician to verify.

The Controversy Surrounding FPE Stab-Lok Panels:

In 2002, a New Jersey court found FPE guilty of fraud for falsely claiming their products passed tests and standards. The investigation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the 1980s revealed that many FPE circuit breakers did not comply with Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) requirements. However, the CPSC, after two years of investigation, discontinued further research due to budgetary concerns, leaving homeowners to make their own decisions about the safety of their FPE Stab-Lok panels. But, tests showed that 51% of these circuit breakers failed to function properly, or 1 out of 3 panels are defective.

The Urgency of Replacement:

Given the potential risks associated with FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers, it is crucial to take prompt action. Many home insurance carriers now require the replacement of Stab-Lok panels with new UL listed panels and breakers. While replacement costs may vary depending on service and other factors, the average estimate ranges from $1000 to $2000. Investing in a replacement is a small price to pay for the safety and peace of mind it provides.

Bonus Info — “Non-insurable” Brands of Electric Panels, May Include:

FPE Stab-Lok – These panels have been linked to quite a few reports of arcing, sparks, and even explosions due to faulty design.
Federal Pacific – These are linked to many electrical fires because of faulty manufacturing and design.
Zinsco/Sylvania – Circuit breakers have been known to suffer from internal connection failures that may lead to overloading, arcing, melting, and fire hazard.
Challenger – Known for their dangerous design, which can create hazardous situations due to improper wiring connections known as “backstabbing”.
Trumbull – Malfunctioning breakers that do not trip when overloaded, posing serious risks such as fires and electrical shocks.
Bulldog Pushmatic – These had a problem where the breakers failed to trip when overloaded, leading to electrical shocks and fires.

Choosing a Licensed Electrician:

When it comes to replacing your FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers, it is essential to work with a licensed electrician who specializes in panel replacements. They will ensure that the new panel meets all current safety codes and regulations, offering you the highest level of protection. Additionally, a licensed electrician can assess your electrical system, provide recommendations, and address any other electrical concerns you may have.


The possible dangers of FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers are not to be taken lightly. By understanding the risks associated with these panels and taking the necessary steps to replace them, you can safeguard your home, loved ones, or business and employees/customers, from potential electrical hazards. Don’t wait until it’s too late – consult a licensed electrician today to ensure the safety and integrity of your electrical system. Remember, investing in the replacement of your FPE Stab-Lok circuit breakers is an investment in the well-being of your home, business, and family.

One Comment

  1. […] What can you do?  If you’re a homeowner or a renter living in a house built from 1950 to 1990, check to see if your home has these circuit breakers.  To see what they look like, and to plan a course of action if found, you can visit https://hettlerinsurance.com/2024/03/19/danger-fpe-panel-stab-lok-circuit-breakers/ […]

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