If your home was built before 1990, chances are it features an outdated (and unsafe!) electrical panel. Antiquated panels aren’t just a code violation; they present a real threat to your safety and the structure of your home since they do not feature modern safety devices designed to stop power flow in the event of an overload. To help you determine whether your home features one of these outdated panels, the electricians at Harrison Electric explain what they look like and why they’re hazardous below.

Zinsco Panels

Zinsco panels were commonly installed in houses throughout the 1970s, but today, Zinsco is defunct. And yet, many homes still feature these panels. Zinsco panels can function properly for years; however, because they’re so old, they’re not equipped to handle the modern household’s electrical demands. Worse, because these panels haven’t been used in decades, if your home still features one, it’s far beyond its intended lifespan.

Why they’re hazardous: Production was halted on Zinsco panels because they had serious design flaws. Many panels failed, even while conducting power, and unfortunately, caused numerous house fires.

Because the circuit breakers inside Zinsco panels can melt to the main bus bar, they can prevent the breaker from tripping even in the event of a circuit overload. And when too much electricity flows through a single breaker, it can melt the wiring and start a fire.

What to look for: If you can see “Zinsco” anywhere on your electrical panel, call an electrician to schedule a Zinsco electric panel replacement. If you see “GTE-Sylvania” or simply “Sylvania” on your panel, you may have a re-branded Zinsco panel, which should also be replaced. However, not all Sylvania and GTE-Sylvania panels present a hazard, so you’ll need to have an electrician inspect the panel to determine if it requires replacement. 

Federal Pacific Electric

Federal Pacific Electric panels were hugely popular from the 1950s to the 1980s, so if you have one of these, it’s well beyond its prime. Although FPE panels were commonly seen in new home construction for decades, they can be highly dangerous, which is the primary reason behind the cessation of their production in 1990.

Why they’re hazardous: The breakers housed inside FPE panels do not always trip when the circuits experience an electrical overload. Because an overloaded circuit can easily melt wires and start a fire, this well-documented issue presents a serious hazard to your safety and your home. There have also been many reports that FPE circuits continue to conduct power even when the breakers are in the off position. In such instances, electrocution is likely if someone is working on an FPE circuit they believe to be off.

What to look for: If your home was constructed between 1950 and 1980, there’s a good chance it features an FPE panel. To determine if you have one, look for “Federal Pacific Electric” or “Stab-Loc” written somewhere on the cover of your breaker box. If you have this type of panel in your house, for your own safety, call an electrician to schedule a Federal Pacific Electric panel replacement as soon as you can.

Need Electrical Service Upgrades? Contact Harrison Electric

If you believe your home contains an outdated, unsafe electrical panel, get in touch with our team at Harrison Electric right away. Since 1985, we’ve proudly served Twin Cities homeowners with comprehensive electrical installations, service upgrades, and electrical repairs, and we’re committed to your utmost satisfaction. To learn more about our services, schedule an appointment, or request a quote, give our Minneapolis office a call today at 763-544-3300 or send us a message.