Author Topic: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker  (Read 3893 times)

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Offline ChuckM

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I'm looking for a NC020CP Stab-lok (NC) Single Pole 20 Amp Plug-On Circuit Breaker for my Federal Pioneer Panel. Neither my local merchants nor Amazon has it: https://www.amazon.ca/Schneider-Electric-NC020CP-Stab-lok-Circuit/dp/B01FTAKKX2

Are there any other brand (20amp) breakers that I can use for my panel?
« Last Edit: February 04, 2021, 02:44 PM by ChuckM »

Offline gunnyr

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2021, 12:19 PM »
I had a similar issue with an old panel. I ended up finding a electrician who had a stock of old parts that they would save when swapping panels out during rehabs.  He had just the breaker I needed, you might want to check with some of the old established electric electric contractors in your area.

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Offline ChuckM

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2021, 01:18 PM »
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try to make some inquiries.


Offline ChuckM

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2021, 02:45 PM »
@ChuckM These folks APPEAR to have inventory, who knows though:

https://www.airwill.com/product/01/NC020CP/FPE-20A-1P-BREAKER

https://store.cookstreetcastle.ca/product-p/6949655.htm

Ron
Thank you!

No idea how you could manage to find those Canadian sources!!! [thumbs up]

Offline JimH2

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2021, 03:32 PM »
Your best bet is to swap it out for another panel. The Federal Pioneer (Canada) is also known as the Federal Pacific (US) and they are known fire hazards. The issue is that the breakers do not trip when they are expected to. A quick search for either name will yield you more information to review. The Stab-Lok breakers are the ones that are a no go. I am no expert on this, but am familiar with the panels, noting that two houses near my mother-in-law burned down and the fire was attributed to Federal Pacific panels. I advised her to replace hers and she did and later found out that other neighbors had replaced theirs when remodeling their kitchens.

Offline ChuckM

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2021, 05:15 PM »
Let me do some research on the subject. Thanks.


Offline DeformedTree

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2021, 08:42 PM »
Would echo others and say replace it. From watching home improvement shows, I know these things are still a thing in Canada. They were never recalled in the US, but they are no longer for sale, and people continually replace them.  Like was mentioned, some folks very well may have parts as salvage, or go to Canada, which it looks like you planned ahead an live there already.

You are trying to find a breaker today to do something. Even if you succeed, who is to say you don't find yourself in the same situation again. Rip it out with one of the standard big names, have access to breakers anyplace, plus ability to put in newer breaker types that might not exist for it. Like I doubt they have AFCI breakers for them.

Offline Mortiser

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2021, 09:40 PM »
I'll echo what you've read previously... if it's an FPE, replace it, sooner rather than later. Get a serious and safe panel like Square D.


Offline SRSemenza

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2021, 09:47 PM »
Yup, had a panel problem  about ten years ago, and the electrician said to replace it due to the hazard.

Seth

Offline ChuckM

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2021, 10:02 PM »
Thanks, everyone for the advice.

I contacted a few electrical businesses, with one telling me that the installation would mean one day with no power for the house. "Decent weather" is recommended for the work to be done. We're expecting a bone-chilling weekend...so I'll revisit this after all the quotes are in (ballpark I think it'll be between $2500 - $3500 Cdn), and the panel swap won't happen until the warmer months return in the spring.

Offline Holzhacker

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2021, 10:22 AM »
Federal Pacific Stab lok panels are generally considered hazardous. Get that junk out of your house.
I won't even touch one.
Some insurance providers also won't provide coverage.
You can search FP Stab lok and see issues.
"The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

Offline Erich

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2021, 02:27 PM »
I too would recommend that you replace the panel. I worked as a site supervisor on an apartment complex rehab in 1998.  The first item on the list was replacing the FPE panels in all 420 units.  They had been deemed unsafe. That was in Kansas City, MO.

Offline ChuckM

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2021, 03:06 PM »
Still working on the quotes, but two of them are zero, because the two electricians are of the opinion that the panel I have (installed in 1997) is fine. One sent me this link:

https://www.cpsc.gov/content/commission-closes-investigation-of-fpe-circuit-breakers-and-provides-safety-information-for

One contractor needs to schedule a visit next week to have a look, while others are giving me estimates based the photo of the panel I sent them. The city permit and power company fee alone will cost about $600 Cdn!

Offline Sparktrician

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2021, 04:08 PM »
You might want to look into the Leviton load centers.  I notice that they have load centers for the Canadian market
- Willy -

  "Show us a man who never makes a mistake and we will show a man who never makes anything. 
  The capacity for occasional blundering is inseparable from the capacity to bring things to pass."

 - Herman Lincoln Wayland (1830-1898)

Offline RussellS

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2021, 05:20 PM »
I contacted a few electrical businesses, with one telling me that the installation would mean one day with no power for the house. "Decent weather" is recommended for the work to be done. We're expecting a bone-chilling weekend...so I'll revisit this after all the quotes are in (ballpark I think it'll be between $2500 - $3500 Cdn), and the panel swap won't happen until the warmer months return in the spring.

Why would replacing an electrical panel cost that much?  You would/should not be touching any of the electrical work in the house.  All you are doing is getting the power company to turn off the power to the house.  Then going in and disconnecting all of the wires going into the current panel.  Marking them.  Then putting in the new panel and reattaching the existing wires.  All you are doing is loosening, tightening screws in the panel and attaching, detaching wires in the panels.  All in the same spot.  You are not doing any electrical work in the house.  Why so expensive for a 2 hour job.  20-30 circuits total.  In my house the panel is in the garage wall so it would also require tearing out some drywall on either side of the panel and repairing it when done.  But that little drywall work is cheap and easy to do.  The homeowner can do that.

Or am I missing something.  Does replacing the electrical panel require the entire house to be recertified by the electric company, government, church, god, devil, UN, FDA, and Santa.  Changing the panel requires you to tear out every wall, ceiling, floor, roof in the house and requires seven inspectors to use magnifying glasses on every wire and outlet and switch to make sure it is up to code.  Is it wrong to assume since the house passed code when it was built it still passes today if you don't actually touch anything except the connection at the panel.

Offline ChuckM

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2021, 06:29 PM »
So far the two quotes I have in front of me are $2,200 and $2,500 subject to confirmation with a site visit. As I said, two other contractors offered a "no need for a panel swap" quote. Of course, if I insisted, I'm sure they would send me some quotes for a new panel.

The last offer from a business that has done some electrical work for my house before should be here next week.

I know people charge a lot here for technical jobs. The supports for my car hood weakened over time, and the car dealership quoted me $400 or so for replacing them. Thanks to YouTube, I found the steps needed for installing them, and saved myself $300 or so (parts from Amazon). Including watching and rewatching the video, and actually doing it...the time spent was under an hour. It was like I had made $300 in an hour!

Another trade, apart from plumbers, that charges a lot, is garage door service. My brother had an issue with the door closing/opening, and some guy quoted him over the phone $250 for fixing/replacing the (weak) spring. I told my brother he should try adjusting the tension buttons. He himself fixed the problem with a screw driver!

Actually, elderly homeowners here are particularly at the mercy of the trade people.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2021, 06:39 PM by ChuckM »

Offline DeformedTree

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2021, 07:10 PM »
I don't know the full details of Canadian electrical code. I know they base of the NEC just like the US, as the 2 countries work towards having the same code, so I will assume things to be the same as here.  So if someone is replacing a panel, they will have to bring that part up to code as best as possible. Mainly this might just mean adding AFCI breakers to all the 120V stuff.  Some cost associated with it might be that depending on the old panel setup.

In American dollars.

New residential panel $120
Guessing on breakers, and going for a worst case, with guesses of a typical house
Double pull breakers, qty 4 * $10 = 40
AFCI-GFCI dual function breakers, qty 20 * $45 = $900 max,   
  If they can just use standard breakers 20* $5 = $100
  I'm going to assume there is at least 1 or 2 GFCIs in there now, so probably more like $200 min.
New SER cable from meter base (likely needed and with meter pulled for panel swap, why not) so 10ft * $5 = $50

So ~1110 dollars max for parts, or $410 on the low end.

It's going to be an all day job, between waiting on utility to come and pull power, then come back. Farting around pulling it, doing the job, I'd say full 8hr job.  So 8hr * $100bucks,  so $800 labor.

So I would expect something in the $1200-2000 USD  $1536-$2560.  Plus permits which were 600.  -> $2136-3160.

So yeah, I would say those prices are inline.  If you are used to the kind of work, then doing it yourself will save a bunch of money for sure. But you aren't going to avoid a permit on something like a panel, since you need the utility to come out. Not that anyone should be avoiding permits.

Like others, I will stand with the panel needs to go. But if you want to keep it, yet are struggling to find breakers, there has been a national shortage of them due to covid. Plants got shut down, many brands are made all in the same place. You might get lucky and they have a pile of them, or the one you need just doesn't exist anyplace.

Offline ChuckM

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2021, 07:26 PM »
Were you a Master Electrician in your previous life?

The contractors told me that I should be prepared for having no power to the house for up to 8 hours.

The labor charge on one of the quotes is $800, which is the market rate here at $100 Cdn/hr. (The average hourly wage for electricians here is between $35 and $50 plus benefits.)

I just noted that the fee for the power company is times 2, meaning one trip for cutting off the power and a return trip for turning it back on. The total fee for the city and power company amounts to $670 Cdn+tax.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2021, 07:49 PM by ChuckM »

Offline DeformedTree

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2021, 10:03 PM »
Were you a Master Electrician in your previous life?


Eh,  I have experience in things.

Offline Holzhacker

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2021, 10:04 PM »
The pricing DeformedTree listed are in line with material and labor costs around here.
Not sure why you would be calling the electrical company to turn power ON/OFF. Around here everybody just yanks the meter then puts it back into the socket when done.
A panel swap is 2-3 hrs.. If there are a lot of pipes, Greenfield or tight quarters it can be 3-4 hrs. If I had taken 8hrs to do a panel swap my master would have kicked me off the job. On the flip side, a contractor will charge you for the full 8 hr day because by the time he's done doing the job, dealing with you, packing up, driving, etc. there isn't much of the day left. Maybe enough time for a service call or two.
If you have guys telling you the Stab lok panels are ok, they are the guys NOT to hire.
"The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

Offline DeformedTree

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #23 on: February 05, 2021, 10:53 PM »
I wouldn't base keeping it on a 1980s US document saying "eh, we will ignore it".  I skimmed it but basically it's going with "there are a ton of these in service, doing a detailed study if these are bad would cost a lot of money, and if they were to be recalled, it would cost a massive amount of money, so lets just ignore this".  Either way, those panels were doomed in this country, and everyone has been replacing them for decades. Basically nothing every gets recalled here that is built into homes, it just falls out of use.

Oddly the only reason I knew they still existed in Canada was from various Mike Holmes shows. Such panels showed up from time to time doing some searching I found out they were the stab-lock  FPE panels.  The pretty white breakers and colorful switches were interesting, till I found what they were.  I have seen Frank service some of them, but most often they just replace the panel, often a vague reason given for replacing it. Clearly he's not going to say things like "these are a fire hazard in the US and not sold there for decades, so I'm going to remove it" and create a whole big panic, or even a potential liable lawsuit.

They aren't illegal there, and Electricians you are talking to very well installed many of them. I would suspect the ones that say it's fine are such folks. They don't want to go down a road of stuff they have used or do install is bad and shouldn't be used. But at the same time they probably are good with quietly removing them.

Offline Mario Turcot

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2021, 11:41 PM »
@ChuckM I did replace my 100AMPS panel for a 200AMPS 4 years ago. The cost was just under 2,000. I provided the panel and breakers, and also an adequare backboard. Since I need to rewire everything, they put a 100AMPS breaker to feed my old panel while everything is competed.

Because they had to replace the service mast, meter and wires, it cost me an extra $600 from the electricity provider. Everything was completed within 6hrs.

If you go that route, I strongly suggest that  you use bolt-on breakers instead of Clip-on.


In Canada you need a Master Electrician to get that kind of permit.
Mario

Offline ChuckM

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2021, 07:41 PM »
Thanks, Mario.

I'll bear this in mind and see what the price difference is like when a final contractor is picked. What's the key advantage of these bolt-on breakers?

My current panel is 125 AMP.

Offline Mario Turcot

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2021, 07:56 PM »
Thanks, Mario.

I'll bear this in mind and see what the price difference is like when a final contractor is picked. What's the key advantage of these bolt-on breakers?

My current panel is 125 AMP.

The main advantage is a better contact. Electrical panels like everything else is subject to vibration and the clip-on is prone to loosen with time. I installed hundreds of panels during my 18 years as industrial electrician and always been bolt-on. Use to conduct yearly inspection on panels, checking every single breakers.
Mario

Offline ChuckM

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2021, 08:08 PM »
 [thumbs up]

Offline Sparktrician

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2021, 01:08 PM »
Thanks, Mario.

I'll bear this in mind and see what the price difference is like when a final contractor is picked. What's the key advantage of these bolt-on breakers?

My current panel is 125 AMP.

The main advantage is a better contact. Electrical panels like everything else is subject to vibration and the clip-on is prone to loosen with time. I installed hundreds of panels during my 18 years as industrial electrician and always been bolt-on. Use to conduct yearly inspection on panels, checking every single breakers.
 

Mario nailed it.  Better (more solid) contact means less opportunity for oxidation which, in turn, causes high-resistance shorts which often result in fires. 

Around here, one has to pull a permit, arrange with the power company to schedule a meter pull and (later in the day) a meter reinstallation after the county inspector gets there to do his thing, and this is a job for a licensed master electrician.  In the meantime, every lead has to be identified as it's removed from the old panel; the power feeds have to be carefully removed to avoid nicking the aluminum conductors; the new panel needs to be reinstalled flawlessly with all conductors neatly and safely reconnected before the inspector arrives to verify the work is done right.  It's tedious and time-consuming, and all that results in pretty steep fees, once all the individuals and entities get paid for their efforts. 
- Willy -

  "Show us a man who never makes a mistake and we will show a man who never makes anything. 
  The capacity for occasional blundering is inseparable from the capacity to bring things to pass."

 - Herman Lincoln Wayland (1830-1898)

Offline Peter_C

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Re: Electrical advice sought on Federal Pioneer panel circuit breaker
« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2021, 02:21 PM »
With a 125amp panel, it would be a good idea to contact the power company to find out if you can up your panel to a 200amp feed. Depending on how the wires enter the house it may require mast replacement if overhead wires, or very simply just upping the breaker panel and the main breaker, with permission from the power company. They may have to do a physical inspection prior to approval. 

Is there a sub panel in the home too?

My own house was upgraded from a 100amp service (Smoked Murray panel) to a 200amp service requiring a mast replacement. It took two of us 10 hours to get it reconnected and fridge back on. Typical cost in California starts at $2500 for a panel swap and goes up for add-ons like mast replacement. Trim must be on for final inspection, but caulk and painting not required here to pass. There were a lot of other things I had to do in advance of the panel replacement to meet current code, like running a ground from the incoming water pipe, across the hot water heater to the breaker panel ground, which required driving in a new ground rod. Those types of jobs will drive the costs up if you don't want to do them yourself.