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Aaroncarpet 08-27-2010 05:04 PM

Replacing Breakers on a federal pacific Box
I do most of my home electrical, and have worked with an electricion replacing service panels. I am deciding whether to change my own breakers or pay someone. It is a 1969 Federal Pacific 125amp box. Don't know if I can even find breakers that fit it. do I need to pull the globe to do it safely? or can I knock out the top and test for current then change?

jbfan 08-27-2010 05:41 PM

Do not pull the meter.
Turn off the main before trying to remove an fpe breaker.

Consider replacing the panel!

bobelectric 08-28-2010 03:56 AM

Upgrade to at least 150 amp service. You have a 40 year old panel.

Aaroncarpet 08-28-2010 11:30 AM

the meter has to be pulled this box doesn't have a shut off...I am going to ask the utility if my line coming in is thick enough for 150....underground

Red Squirrel 08-28-2010 11:56 AM

If you do pull the meter yourself (call the hydro company first, I don't think most allow you to do it) make sure you turn off all power in the house before so you will get less of a flash when you pull. Think of it as pulling the plug from the vacuum when it's still running, you see a small blue spark.

Aaroncarpet 08-28-2010 12:26 PM

i have the utility coming to pull the meter...what guage do I need for 150 5? 4? 3?......

Aaroncarpet 08-28-2010 05:36 PM

I am seriously considering purchasing the material to fully replace and upgrade service to 150.....I wonder if the utility will permit me to put the globe back in and then they can come another day and retab....tamper tab...the globe....I don't want to be rushed by my service provider but I need my fridge back on in 3 hours.....I think the tech will tell me if I can put the globe in......

Jim Port 08-28-2010 06:39 PM

A refrigerator will stay cold longer than 3 hours if you keep the door shut. I normally tell the HO they will be without power most of the day when I change a panel.

If you are not tripping the main now are you planning on adding new loads to the panel? You might be fine with the current service size.

BTW, I would dump the FPE panel.

Scuba_Dave 08-28-2010 07:36 PM

My new panel was installed next to the old panel
New wire run, ready to go
POCO shut off the power
Main feed swapped over + 240v loads
Then a few more 120v circuits
It was off for 4 hours .....then POCO came back & connected at the pole
Possible all the circuits were swapped over during that time, not sure

I have a SW fish tank that was fed power off a generator during the swapover

frenchelectrican 08-29-2010 04:31 AM

To replace the panel box typicaly not a DIY item to do due there are quite few items you have to deal as few mention. { I know few serious DIY's can do it if they do understand the electrical codes }

• Power outage will varies depending on set up most case useally anywhere from 4 hours to couples days { 4 to 8 hours is most common }

• You will need permit to change the load centre and many POCO will not hook it back up without the inspector approved it. { many area is getting very strict on this }

As above item you will have to check with the building offices to see what they will required for this so plan it ahead of the time { emergecy calls is diffrent but I will not bring it up in here at the moment}

• You may have to change the conductors or cable in case the exsting one is poor shape or going to larger one.

For the 150 amp service I will list the two sizes one for copper verison and second one for ALUM verison.

55mm˛ { 1/0 AWG } copper SE or THHN cable


70mm˛ { 2/0 AWG } Alum SE or XHHN cable

If you can not get them in that size you can get them in larger size which I know they will stock more common size.

But check with your local officals for latest info for any update change beside you will need two ground rods no question asked plus 25mm˛ { #4 AWG } bare conductor for grounding puropse.


Aaroncarpet 08-29-2010 10:36 AM

I have not made any drastic electrical changes I added a couple lights to existing circuits that where plugs on a switch. the wire is 100% copper 14g in the house. I think I will try and find a square D panel that will fit in the existing hole and try and keep the service at 125.

Jim Port 08-29-2010 03:12 PM

Most newer boxes are larger than the old boxes and you will probably need to cut a wider hole. The new boxes fit between standard stud spacing.

Aaroncarpet 08-29-2010 05:53 PM

no biggy, i can fix drywall big concern is is keeping the wires organized, i don't want to put them back on the wrong poles and i want to get the same amperage breakers for the existibg circuits, I will probably tape the wires to the wall and label box has all red and black no white casing....

Jim Port 08-29-2010 07:44 PM

Pay special attantion to any multiwire branch circuits. These should have a black and a red from the same cable sharing a neutral. These need to go onto two pole breakers to assure the neutral does not get overloaded

You could wrap white electrical tape around the wires connected to the neutral buss to mark them.

frenchelectrican 08-30-2010 01:16 AM


Originally Posted by Aaroncarpet (Post 492913)
no biggy, i can fix drywall big concern is is keeping the wires organized, i don't want to put them back on the wrong poles and i want to get the same amperage breakers for the existibg circuits, I will probably tape the wires to the wall and label box has all red and black no white casing....

That one item you will have to make a marking which one it have proper netural which you will see it landed on netural bussbar.

Due you have red and black conductors I am pretty sure you will have white conductor in there as well.

Are you in Canada ? if that the case you probly have a bit of straight 240 volts loads in there { most likely electrique baseboard heater }


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