At Solectric are always concerned about the safety of a home’s electrical system. The main electrical panel, sometimes known as a breaker box, is the main source of protection of your electrical system. There are multiple components that, combined, will allow your panel to provide the best protection.
Is your panel safe? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than half the homes in the U.S. were built before the ’70′s. We know that people today rely on technology more than ever: computers, printers, fax machines, cell phones, televisions, surround sound systems, DVRs, etc., etc. These items can drain a home’s electrical system.
Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) panels were once the most common panels installed from the ’50′s to the ’80′s. Unfortunately, they have been found to fail to provide proper protection. In a class action lawsuit in New Jersey, the court ruled FPE “violated Consumer Fraud Act because Federal Pacific knowingly and purposefully distributed circuit breakers which were not tested to meet UL standards”. FPE panels fail to trip at a much higher rate that other standard panels. If a breaker fails to trip, panels can overheat and possibly catch fire.
Not all FPE panels have caused problems, but when they do, they can quickly become fire hazards.
Zinsco is another brand of panels that have caused problems. Most Zinsco panels are obsolete today due to a design flaw in which the circuit breaker’s connection to the bus bar becomes loose, causing arcing and overheating. Many breakers overheat to the point of melting to the bus bar and therefore can no longer trip. The panel can then overheat and possibly catch fire.
Aftermarket replacements may be available for some of these panels. However, it is often more cost efficient to replace the entire panel with a more modern, safer design.
If the bus bar shows any sign of corrosion, or if breakers show any sign of overheating, the panel should be replaced entirely.
If you have any concerns about your panel, or would just like to upgrade your service, Solectric would be happy to come out to your home or office and perform a panel review. Please fee free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.