Breaker Panel Upgrades
Residential & Commercial Panel Upgrades
Single- and 3-Phase Load Centers
Older Memphis-area homes may require a panel upgrade for expanded circuit capabilities.
Modern homes are equipped with electronics and home appliances that did not exist 50-years ago. The need for additional receptacles to power modern appliances and gadgets might also be needed. If so, we can help.
We also upgrade commercial 3-phase panels and load centers in a range of voltages including 120/208V, 277/480V, and 120/240V 3-phase.
Many Memphis-area homes built in the 70's and 80's were equipped with a Breaker Panel from Federal Pacific or zeiss. Both of these circuit breaker panels are considered a fire or shock hazard. See the article below for more details.
Call Benchmark Electric for a free in-home consultation and estimate to upgrade your fuse box or breaker panel. Our courteous, skilled technicians can craft a safe, clean installation of your updated panel.
Truthfully, this is an image of a new GE panel being installed. As you can see, Brad, our expert tech, enjoys working with spaghetti. Brad remarks, "Did someone say lunch?"
Our customer called during the installation to report how impressed he was with Brad's expertise and work ethic. Check out how Brad turned the spaghetti into a neatly wired panel.
Heed this Warning About
Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panels
Memphis-area homes built in the 50’s through the 80’s may have breaker panels manufactured by Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE). Online articles report “millions” were installed in homes throughout the USA during this time period.
As years went by, numerous lawsuits were filed after house fires resulted in loss of life and property. Each of the fires started at the electric panel. Electricians found Federal Pacific Electric load centers fail to meet safety requirements.
Here’s the rub. The Stab-Lok breakers can overheat and bond to the hot bus bar, rendering the circuit breaker useless. The situation involves two hazards: (1) a Shock Hazard, and a (2) Fire Hazard.
A “short circuit” results in much more current flow and the accompanying heat. A circuit breaker "trips" when current and heat flow reaches unsafe levels. When a circuit breaker is switched to the “On” position, the breaker connects to the internal bus bar which is always "hot" with available electricity. Switching the breaker to the "Off" position releases the breaker from the internal bus bar.
In the case of an electrical short, a working circuit breaker releases automatically from the internal bus bar, stopping the flow of electricity. If you’re a computer geek, think of the “circuit breaker” as the firewall against unsafe levels of electrical current flow.
There are two Safety Hazards for homeowners, electricians, and house occupants. They are:
1. Shock Hazard – When a circuit breaker bonds to the bus bar, electricity continues to flow, even when the circuit breaker is switched “Off”. Tip: Always test electrical wiring with a meter. Better still, hire a professional.
2. Fire hazard – Bonding to the bus bar will not become a fire hazard until an electrical short develops. When it does, a working circuit breaker trips, or releases from the bus bar and stop the flow of electricity. A bonded circuit breaker becomes a fire hazard during a “short circuit”, increasing the flow of electricity. As current flow increases, electrical wiring overheats beyond safe limits and catches fire.
Our Best Advice for Curious Homeowners:
Check the label on your main breaker panel. You are looking for FPE or Federal Pacific Electric Company. If you have an FPE panel, consider replacing it soon. The panel may seem to work just fine. You still may be exposed to a potential Shock Hazard and certainly a Fire Hazard risk following a short-circuit. A short circuit has the potential of being a Shock and Fire Hazard for all occupants.
Our best advice is to play it safe and eliminate the hazard. Call Benchmark Electric for a safe, professional panelboard replacement.
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