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Thread: Federal Pioneer Stab-Lok in Canada

  1. #1

    Default Federal Pioneer Stab-Lok in Canada

    This is from another thread but I moved it here so people could find it in a search.

    I emailed Schneider Electric, the Canadian Mfr for Federal Pioneer to ask them to address the issues that I found on the internet.

    I have posted their response. I will let you be the judge.

    George,

    Thank you for your inquiry!

    If read carefully you can see that these web sites discuss US issues from the 1975 to 1982 period. The US agencies involved dropped the issues on lack of hard evidence.

    The author of the web sites suggest that the tooling used to make the US Stab-lok breakers 20+ years ago is now used in Canada - let me assure you that no equipment was transferred from the US to Canada. At the time there were two seperate companies (Federal Pioneer Ltd in Canada and Federal Pacific Ltd in the US) manufacturing in seperate countries and under seperate design and engineering departments. Even though the beakers were similar in design, components were not interchageable from one to another.

    Further the article suggests that our 1996 recall was some how related to the 1980 problem - let me assure you again it was not. In 1996 we introduced a product design change. Even though the product met and exceeded all of the testing requirements of CSA, we found some anomilies in the mechanism that could if all conditions existed, which was a very minute possibility, cause a safety hazard. We as a company voluntarily recalled all of the product from the market to eliminate any potential damges to our customers.

    Every person we have had contact with in the US has indicated that the Inspector who recommends changing out his Stab-lok panel based on the info in these web sites is also associated with a contracting business and for a fee, quoted as $1500 to $3000 US, they will remove this "hazard" from their home. There have also been residents contact us, who get an inspection done in advance of selling their home proving it's in top condition and the Inspector writes up a report about the "bad" panel and are then essentially blackmailed into removing the panel because it's now in a written document as dangerous and will decrease the value of the property or render the propery unsalable.

    Here is some information on out testing procedures:
    • Our Circuit Breakers are designed to the applicable CSA standards and are tested by CSA as well as ourselves on a regular basis.
    • Our circuit breakers are fundamentally designed to protect the building wire that connects the circuit breakers to the supply. The design is based on the fact that the energy that is passed through the breaker during an overload or short circuit must be limited by the breaker's tripping operation, to a level that will not damage the conductors.


    The CSA test program as well as our inhouse test program confirms compliance with the regulatory requirements by conducting the following tests:

    Initial Trip time confirmation
    • The breaker is "over loaded" to a value of 135% of the current rating and the breaker must trip within one hour.
    • The breaker is then "overloaded to a value of 200% of the current rating and the breaker must trip in typically in less than two minuets.


    Temperature test
    • The circuit breaker is overloaded to a current value of 6 times the rating ( but not less than 150 amp.) and switched 50 times.
    • The circuit breaker is then placed in a 40 deg. C. ambient temperature and forced to carry 100% of the current rating until the circuit breaker reaches thermal equilibrium. Temperatures are recorded and must be below the maximum temp. limits of the requirements.


    Endurance Tests
    • The circuit breaker is switched 10,000 operation and is then subjected to a short circuit current of 1,500 amp.
    • After completing the switching operations and the short circuit test the circuit breaker is subjected the Trip Time Confirmation test again.


    Short Circuit Tests
    • The circuit breaker is subjected to at least two short circuit tests as applicable to the current rating of the circuit breaker.
    • Typical short circuit levels are 5,000 amp, 10,000 amp and 22,000 amp. for StabLok circuit breakers.
    • The circuit breaker is then subjected to the Trip Time Confirmation tests
      Dielectric Strength Test
    • After the completion of each of the test above the circuit breaker is subjected to a dielectric strength test at 1,400 Vac to ensure that there is no breakdown of insulation when the breaker is in the off or tripped position.


    We also offer AFCI Circuit breakers and GFCI Circuit Breakers to further enhance the protection offered by our products. In some cases electrical faults do not produce enough energy to trip circuit breakers, however this energy is well below the energy that would damage the supply conductors. Our AFCI and GFCI Combination Circuit breakers are designed to trip at current levels below the trip current threshold of standard circuit breakers and therefore offer enhanced protection for fault currents below that which regular circuit breakers require to trip.

    Regards


    Debbie Auty
    Product Support Supervisor
    Schneider Electric Rexwood Location
    1-800-565-6699


    Helpful Tools:
    Technical Library - www.schneider-electric.ca

    Thank you for visiting our web site. We received
    the following e-mail request.

    Subject: Federal Pioneer Breakers

    Message: I've come across a good deal of material documenting US based issues with the FP breakers and panels.
    http://www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpestlouis.htm

    I am currently working with a panel in my cottage, and people have suggested I replace the panel with a different make as I was about to install a new sub panel by Fed Pioneer.

    Unfortunately, I can't find any testing data to dispell the fear that the Canadian made panels/breakers suffer from the same ailments as the US ones. I can't find any Canadian Test results at all. I would like to get going on purchasing the new panel and installing new breakers. Do you have any information to put my mind to rest?

    Thanks,

    George
    Last edited by gbeichho; April 21st, 2004 at 12:57 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Federal Pacific Stab-Lok

    I called Schneider yesterday and they said that their breakers here in Canada are not the same as the American ones. So I opened my Stab-Lok panel and pulled a breaker. It says "Federal Pacific Electric Co. Newark N.J." There is a CSA sticker on the breaker but it sure looks like this late 70s vintage breaker was made in the USA.

    Now I don't know if I should be replacing my breaker panel!!!

    Joe

  3. #3

    Default

    It sounds like those old breakers match the description of the American company name outlined in their email.

    I wouldn't necessarily worry about the panel though. I compared my panel construction with the ones described in the web site and my panel did not have the design flaws illustrated there.

    I have been slowly replacing my breakers as I rewire some old circuits. Although I know some of the old breakers worked fine because I've had them trip before.

    It is a lot cheaper to replace the breakers than to replace your whole panel. I'm satisfied that the new breakers are manufactured in Canada and have no relation to the breakers described in the web site. The regular breakers are actually pretty cheap. It's only the GFI and AFCI breakers that are quite expensive.

    Just my thoughts.

  4. #4

    Default

    Hello. I am new to the site and am glad I found it as I am disabled but like to keep up my knowledge of code changes and such.
    This Stab Lock information is quite interesting. I have never liked Stab Lock and tried to always use Square D if posible.
    I have had 2 recent incidents that left me scratching my head as to why the breakers never tripped.
    The first was an older home where I did some extensive work for a friend. I was installing split receptacles in the kitchen. Unfortunately--the walls were very thick--around 5 inches. My buddy was helping and he installed a box with the wires entering from the top. When he pushed the box into the hole---the wires were severely bent. A tenant called him yesterday saying he had a fire in the kitchen. It was no fire---but the cable had a short due to the severe bending. Plugging an appliance in caused the plug to "buzz". He said it did this sice the instalation. The wire finally burned almost completely through at the top of the box. The double pole 15A breaker never tripped--at the end when he called---he went down to manually kill the circuit. I do nopt know why it refused to trip---it was a new breaker purchased here in Canada. I was lucky the place never burned down. Now I am rather worried about these panels.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Springfield
    Posts
    947

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HERMIT
    ...A tenant called him yesterday saying he had a fire in the kitchen. It was no fire---but the cable had a short due to the severe bending. Plugging an appliance in caused the plug to "buzz". He said it did this sice the instalation. The wire finally burned almost completely through at the top of the box. The double pole 15A breaker never tripped...
    When a cable is damaged by bending it typically fails with a 'series arc' and not a short circuit (parallel arc).

    The cross sectional area of the conductor at the point of damage is greatly reduced. So for example a #14 wire may narrow down to the equivalent of a #20 or so. This eventually melts under the load that the circuit was designed to carry (15A in this case). This produces what is known as a series arc. Arcs are bad because they create a lot of heat. Even the present generation of AFCI breakers (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) only detect parallel arcs.

    It is likely that the arcing that occured produced far less than 15A.

    It is the concensus of the industry that series arcs are less likely to start a fire when compared to parallel arcs. The points of failure are also usually in a box (unless a severely kinked cable is inside the walls).

    Arc Fault Characteristics

    Be careful working with solid conductors. Copper is more forgiving than aluminum but it has limits too!

    Any arcing is a potential fire starter. That buzzing noise was caused by the lovely blue arc of ionized air at the point where the conductor had actually separated and created a small gap.

    Homer
    Last edited by Homer; September 25th, 2004 at 08:56 PM.

  6. #6

    Default

    There is an alert out on these breakers from The ESA in Ontario.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HERMIT
    There is an alert out on these breakers from The ESA in Ontario.
    Yes, as stated in post #1 of this thread, there was a recall in 1996 of a handful of these breakers with certain lot numbers.
    Further the article suggests that our 1996 recall was some how related to the 1980 problem - let me assure you again it was not. In 1996 we introduced a product design change. Even though the product met and exceeded all of the testing requirements of CSA, we found some anomilies in the mechanism that could if all conditions existed, which was a very minute possibility, cause a safety hazard. We as a company voluntarily recalled all of the product from the market to eliminate any potential damages to our customers.
    This doesn't change the nature of a conductor failure from bending damage. A series arc will never trip a breaker because the load is still in series with the supply. It's not a short circuit.

    If your breakers match those lot numbers, then by all means replace them. I believe that the manufacturer will replace them at no cost to you.

    Homer

  8. #8

    Default

    When the current was sufficient to melt 3 of the four conductors--including the ground I think it should have tripped. Regardless---I wouldn't install Stab Lock in my home---or anyone elses.
    I figured the previous posters may have wanted to see the document and make their own choice from there. I will be changing the single pole 15s and the doubles to the upgraded serial number for my piece of mind and the owner's.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Springfield
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HERMIT
    When the current was sufficient to melt 3 of the four conductors--including the ground I think it should have tripped.
    Even a series arc can generate a great deal of heat.

    How can a circuit that draws 15A under load, draw more than 15A when you add a resistance in series with it? Ohm's Law easily explains why it can't.

    If you add a 5 ohm series resistance to a resistive circuit drawing 12A, what happens?

    The current will drop to 8A and your 5 ohm arc will dissipate 8x8x5 = 320W.

    Can't a 60W soldering iron melt lead?

    Homer

  10. #10

    Default Subpanel installation

    I have a 200A Nova breaker type panel in my basement to which I connected a Square D subpanel with 20 breakers. The subpanel is protected by a 100A breaker in my main panel. Is this the correct method of installation?
    Thanks (sorry if I posted this in the wrong forum)

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