Used FPE Breaker

mbrooke

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Location
United States
Occupation
*
For an A/C Unit above an Gas station I was considering using an used three pole 40amp FPE stabloc breaker... any comments on reliability of used breakers? Thanks in advance!
I would say its a double whammy in this case. Nothing can grantee the reliability of a used breaker, but the biggest problem by far its an FPE. I would consider asking the owner to replace it and educate him on the risk of having one. A gas station is the last place you want a fire. If the owner insists on reusing the panel I would add a small 3 space breaker enclosure next to the panel and after the FPE breaker feed through a modern equivalent breaker via the new enclosure.
 

Fulthrotl

~~Please excuse the mess. Sig under construction~~
For an A/C Unit above an Gas station I was considering using an used three pole 40amp FPE stabloc breaker... any comments on reliability of used breakers? Thanks in advance!
i just recently replaced a zinsco 100 amp 3 pole "prince of darkness"
breaker that was put in by my predecessor. they used a used
breaker, charged the customer $500, which is about current market
value for the critter, and it lasted 18 months, before losing B phase
that made a poor weld, neither opening nor fully closing.

considering that the big Z and FPE weren't any good when they were new..... :happyno:
 

HackElectric

Senior Member
Location
NJ
My biggest problem with FPE is explaining it to people in condos and trying to rationalize it.


When the customer has a house with an FPE panel I will usually say that I won't add to it. Usually the panel is old as well as the service so it's a good candidate to recommend for upgrade.


But when I go to a condo and tell them that I won't add to it and it should be replaced, how do I justify replacing their one panel in their 6th floor unit while there are 85 other units in the building with the same old FPE panel? :lol:
 

mbrooke

Batteries Not Included
Location
United States
Occupation
*
My biggest problem with FPE is explaining it to people in condos and trying to rationalize it.


When the customer has a house with an FPE panel I will usually say that I won't add to it. Usually the panel is old as well as the service so it's a good candidate to recommend for upgrade.


But when I go to a condo and tell them that I won't add to it and it should be replaced, how do I justify replacing their one panel in their 6th floor unit while there are 85 other units in the building with the same old FPE panel? :lol:

The best bet is the condo association or the landlord of the property. Condo associations listen more though which is a good thing. Condo complex nearby just lost dozens of FPEs thanks to them:D. Of curse, you could always show them the QO vs FPE test. When people see that they change their minds fact. Just be careful:eek:
 

jrannis

Senior Member
What is this test ? QO vs FPE ? Is there a link some where ?
I changed the interior of an existing FPE load center with a Cutler Hammer retrofit kit and let the chief engineer know that they were available if any other owners were interested. He stated that not all FPE had problems and that the type in his building were not recalled or have any safety issues.
I was not so comfortable with his answer. Is he correct?
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Placerville, CA, USA
Occupation
Retired PV System Designer
One obvious limitation to his analysis is that very few if any of the unsafe breakers were actually recalled as we currently use the term in the NHTSA or CPSC context.
And although some were more dangerous than others, the basic principle of the StabLok bus was deficient and a poor engineering decision.
So really two problems:
1. Breakers that failed on their own with spectacular consequences, and
2. Breaker and panel combinations that failed too often in slightly less dramatic ways ( if you can call a panel catching fire less dramatic.)

Tapatalk!
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
My biggest problem with FPE is explaining it to people in condos and trying to rationalize it.


When the customer has a house with an FPE panel I will usually say that I won't add to it. Usually the panel is old as well as the service so it's a good candidate to recommend for upgrade.


But when I go to a condo and tell them that I won't add to it and it should be replaced, how do I justify replacing their one panel in their 6th floor unit while there are 85 other units in the building with the same old FPE panel? :lol:
You have a decent job though if you can convince all 85 of them to change panels:happyyes:

A gas station is the last place you want a fire.
I have to ask, where is the first place you want a fire?:)
 

jrannis

Senior Member
One obvious limitation to his analysis is that very few if any of the unsafe breakers were actually recalled as we currently use the term in the NHTSA or CPSC context.
And although some were more dangerous than others, the basic principle of the StabLok bus was deficient and a poor engineering decision.
So really two problems:
1. Breakers that failed on their own with spectacular consequences, and
2. Breaker and panel combinations that failed too often in slightly less dramatic ways ( if you can call a panel catching fire less dramatic.)

Tapatalk!
The Stab Lok bus, to me, is inconsistent. Some of the half size breakers will almost fall off of the bus, while other full size breakers, usually the double pole size, will need to be pried out.
 

mbrooke

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Location
United States
Occupation
*
What is this test ? QO vs FPE ? Is there a link some where ?

No link. Its a do it yourself. With PPE, Take an 15 or 20 amp FPE breaker run it through a QO. Short the wire. Qo trips fast. Then do the same thing minus the QO in series. Watch and learn. To those who aren't convinced they change their opinion quick:happyyes:
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
The Stab Lok bus, to me, is inconsistent. Some of the half size breakers will almost fall off of the bus, while other full size breakers, usually the double pole size, will need to be pried out.
testing this out with old panels or old breakers may not give you same results as it would with new panels and new breakers - but they only make new breakers and no new panels so unless you find an unused panel somewhere you are not going to do this test

No link. Its a do it yourself. With PPE, Take an 15 or 20 amp FPE breaker run it through a QO. Short the wire. Qo trips fast. Then do the same thing minus the QO in series. Watch and learn. To those who aren't convinced they change their opinion quick:happyyes:
Square D used to have a demonstration set they took to trade shows, I haven't seen it for years though. I'm guessing they used an isolated source at a low voltage for safety, but then they would take a competitor breaker tie a short fine wire link in the circuit(not sure what the link was made of, was probably about 16 to 18 AWG though) and connected it as a short circuit in series with the breaker being tested. They had samples of just about every popular competitor breaker at the time and every one of them would hold while the link burned up. But insert the QO breaker and it would trip before the link even had a chance to start glowing. QO does have a fast response time - that is part of why they have the QO name - which is for "Quick Open". There is nothing wrong with those other breakers that did not open, they just had a different response time but still falls within listing standards.
 

jim dungar

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Wisconsin
Occupation
Retired Electrical Engineer - Power Systems
Square D used to have a demonstration set they took to trade shows, I haven't seen it for years though. I'm guessing they used an isolated source at a low voltage for safety, but then they would take a competitor breaker tie a short fine wire link in the circuit(not sure what the link was made of, was probably about 16 to 18 AWG though) and connected it as a short circuit in series with the breaker being tested. They had samples of just about every popular competitor breaker at the time and every one of them would hold while the link burned up. But insert the QO breaker and it would trip before the link even had a chance to start glowing. QO does have a fast response time - that is part of why they have the QO name - which is for "Quick Open". There is nothing wrong with those other breakers that did not open, they just had a different response time but still falls within listing standards.
QO does not stand for Quick-open and never has (regardless what you see on Wiki-pedia).

The family series was QO, Q1, Q2, and Q4, which replaced previous families of breakers like XO, A1, MO and others.
Some QO breakers, in the 15A and 20A 1-pole size, do have a Qwik-Open (R) feature which provides for a 'faster trip' than standard QO breakers (I believe a low pickup point plays a role in this). I would have to check my old product data sheets, but I recall that the Qwic-Open was not part of the original product release.

The breaker test kit ran at 120VAC which is one reason is was discontinued. One version contained bus connections for breakers and a standard duplex receptacle. The demo was to insert a paper clip into the receptacle and then see what happened. A seond version included an air core inductor (about 250' of coiled #18AWG) which allowed for a sparking test. The test set instructions recommended that an extension cord always be used to limit the current so that the building branch breakers would not trip. This effectively prevented most breakers from entering their magnetic pickup points. Another trick we often used was to keep the competitors breakers cold, while ours were kept warmer.
 

mbrooke

Batteries Not Included
Location
United States
Occupation
*
QO does not stand for Quick-open and never has (regardless what you see on Wiki-pedia).

The family series was QO, Q1, Q2, and Q4, which replaced previous families of breakers like XO, A1, MO and others.
Some QO breakers, in the 15A and 20A 1-pole size, do have a Qwik-Open (R) feature which provides for a 'faster trip' than standard QO breakers (I believe a low pickup point plays a role in this). I would have to check my old product data sheets, but I recall that the Qwic-Open was not part of the original product release.

The breaker test kit ran at 120VAC which is one reason is was discontinued. One version contained bus connections for breakers and a standard duplex receptacle. The demo was to insert a paper clip into the receptacle and then see what happened. A seond version included an air core inductor (about 250' of coiled #18AWG) which allowed for a sparking test. The test set instructions recommended that an extension cord always be used to limit the current so that the building branch breakers would not trip. This effectively prevented most breakers from entering their magnetic pickup points. Another trick we often used was to keep the competitors breakers cold, while ours were kept warmer.
What if the breaker feeding the kit was QO?:?
 

mbrooke

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Location
United States
Occupation
*
That was the major reason for the extension cord. More than once I managed to trip the wrong breaker.
I think the reason the QO trip the fastest was because it had the lowest instantaneous magnetic trip. I think a better option would have been a 1,500va high impedance isolation transformer with only a few volts output potential. Amp wise it could put out around 500 when short circuited. Much safer and much easier to test breakers.
 
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