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Outdated and Potentially Dangerous Electrical Panel Brands

If you own an older home, or are in the market to buy an older home, it’s a good idea to check the electrical panel brand. Many outdated electrical panels are still in service. We see them more often than you would think during our home inspections.

Outdated electrical panels pose several hazards, such as circuit breakers that don’t trip or breakers that are overloaded. These hazards can lead to an electrical fire. Most homeowners don’t realize that their electrical panel is outdated and potentially dangerous until they’ve had a home inspection or 4 Point inspection performed on the home.

Many insurance companies will deny coverage to homes with certain outdated electrical panels. Federal Pacific is one of the more common brands deemed uninsurable by most insurance companies. Continuing reading for a list of the more common outdated and unsafe electrical panels:

1. Federal Pacific (FPE)

Federal Pacific panels were commonly installed in homes built between 1950 and 1980. Federal Pacific breakers are reputed to have a high rate of circuit breaker failure, which can result in fire or shock/electrocution. The circuit breakers fail to trip when they should.

Federal Pacific, or FPE will likely be visible on the cover, or inside cover of the breaker box. You can also look for “Stab-Lok” labeled breakers inside the panel.

2. Zinsco

Zinsco panels were popular electrical panels installed in homes throught the 1970s. While Zinsco is no longer in business, these panels still remain in some homes. Zinsco panels are unable to keep up with today’s high electrical demands, which has resulted in melted wires and breakers, leaving homes at risk of fire.

To identify these panels, look for the name Zinsco anywhere on the panel.

3. Sylvania

Sylvania panels were commonly installed in homes through the 60s and 70s. Sylvania panels are re-branded Zinsco panels that contain the same problematic Zinsco design. The only change to the panel was the addition of the Sylvania logo after Sylvania purchased Zinsco.

4. Challenger

Challenger panels were popular in the 80s and 90s. Over the years, it was discovered that two types of circuit breakers manufactured by Challenger were overheating under normal conditions at the connection point to the bus bar.

Challenger products did not always feature the Challenger brand name. Many of them were also labeled as GTE-Sylvania or Zinsco. Look for these brands in your panel or the name Challenger anywhere on the panel.

What to do if you have one of these panels

If you find one of these panels in your home, it is highly recommended to have an electrician replace it with a more modern, safe electrical panel. At the very least, have the panel inspected for any signs of problems.

If you think you have one of these panels in your home, but are still unsure, hire a home inspector or electrician to inspect the panel and determine the manufacturer.

Call or Email Us Today!


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