If you own a home that was constructed before 1990, then you may have an outdated main electric panel in place. Not only are these panels ugly, but they can also be quite unsafe.
Modern electrical panels are built with safety devices – either circuit breakers or fuses – that trip and then shut off the power if too much electricity moves through them. This helps prevent overheated wires and fires. However, many old homes still have these outdated panels in place. Some panels you should have replaced right away are found here.
FPE (Federal Pacific Electric) Panels
During 1950 to 1980 FPE was an extremely popular manufacturer of electrical panels. As a result, these were installed in millions of homes. However, today, they are extremely unsafe.
The circuit breakers don’t trip when they should. This has resulted in thousands of fires all across the U.S. There are also reports of FPE circuits that are in the off position still sending power to the circuit. This can result in electrocution if you are working on a circuit you think is turned off.
A Zinsco or GTE-Sylvania panel was a popular option for homes in the 1970s. However, Zinsco is defunct today, but there are still many homes using them today.
The main reason these are so dangerous is that the circuit breaker inside the panels often melts to the main “bus bar.” This results in the breaker never being able to trip, even in cases of an overloaded or short circuit. If there ever is a short or another issue, the surge of power will melt the wires and start a fire in your home.
Keep in mind, Zinsco panels may be labeled as GTE-Sylvania or Sylvania panels, so be sure to look for both of these brands on your breaker box.
Split-Bus Electrical Panels
Modern circuit breakers have one metal bus. The electricity moves into the panel, passes through the main breaker and to the bus. Then, the bus connects to each of the circuit breakers, distributing power throughout your home.
With this design, you can shut the power off to the bus by flipping the main breaker. However, a split bus electric panel has a different design. It has two buses with no main disconnect point. In fact, these panels can have up to six breakers that are labeled as “main.”
While these aren’t unsafe by themselves, these types of panels have not been used in more than four decades. This puts them well past their expected lifespan, which means the circuit breakers may not allow them to trip properly. Also, according to the electric code, multiple disconnects are not allowed.
If you are worried that you may have one of the panels listed here in your home, contact Teague Electric. The professionals can inspect your panel and easily determine whether or not it is safe. It if isn’t, they can offer you options to help ensure your home is safe and that the electrical panel will work properly if needed.