Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)


Federal Pacific Electric Panel (King of the House) Bellingham WA Home Inspector

The most frequently seen older electric panel of questionable merit, here in Bellingham WA and Whatcom County, would be Zinsco-Sylvania brand. More often than not, when I recommend replacing an electric panel, it will be Zinsco brand.

However, maybe once every two or three years, I run into a  "Federal Pacific Electric" service panel with "Stab-Lok" circuit breakers. These old panels are controversial: The manufacturer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission wrestled safety issues with this panel for 30 years. The manufacturer aggressively argued that the panels were safe. Then, only a few years back, the Consumer Product Safety Commission threw up their hands, gave up the investigation, because the agency claimed they could not determine the risk factor that these panels might present to consumers. So, in effect, they said that they do not know if the panels are unsafe or not. It took 30 years to come up with that pearl of wisdom for consumers.


From the standpoint of a home inspector, and in light of many serious and documented problems that have been attributed to these panels over the years, including breakers that malfunction or fall out if covers are removed, I always recommend having an electrician further assess Federal Pacific panels as to safety and functionality. Usually, electricians replace the panels.


Steven L. Smith

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Comment balloon 6 commentsSteven L. Smith • July 27 2014 07:42AM


Nothing comes quicker from a home inspector than the gasp I hear every inspection they see a Federal Pacific electrical panel. I can almost predict it now Steve!

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Northwest.) almost 5 years ago


I do not gasp, I grumble to myself.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

Funny, I rarely see a Zisco Panel, but a fair amount and frequency of Federal Pacific. The "nice" thing about them now is, there are becoming so old, they can be called out for replacement due to age alone.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 5 years ago

I just carry Square D stickers with me to cover up Federal Pacific or Zinsco labels.  This way, everyone loves me :)


Posted by Joshua Frederick, Home Inspector in Defiance & all of Northwest Ohio (Home Inspector for ASPEC Residential Services, LLC) almost 5 years ago

I see them all the time Steve.  Whole neighborhoods here have them in the houses, along with many apartment buildings.   Jim's comment is good as they are old enough to suggest professional attention and/or upgrade.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

hey there ,

nice one.

keep posting...


have a great day to you...

Posted by Christopher Lotte, Central Ohio Realtor, 614-390-9243 (Red 1 Realty) over 4 years ago