Federal Pacific Electric Circuit Breakers

Electricians, including 110220v have continued to see Federal Pacific Electric circuit breakers in San Mateo homes recently. If you search for Federal Pacific Electric on Google, the first result that comes back is “FPE Panels – Is My Electrical Panel Safe?

Our electricians are very concerned with this state of affairs.

The History:

The problem has been known since at least 1980. The FPE company was purchased in 1979. Shortly after, in 1980, Reliance notified the CPSC (the Consumer Product Safety Commission) that an internal investigation had shown that FPE circuit breakers did not trip correctly. They had found that FPE circuit breakers did not fully comply with Underwriter Laboratory compliance requirements. (UL is one of the approved safety inspectors by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration). The CPSC also conducted its own investigation and determined that the circuit breakers were defective. However they did not order a recall.

There has been at least one lawsuit over the years. The New Jersey State Court ruled that FPE had violated the Consumer Fraud Act.  They believed that the FPE had distributed circuit breakers they knew were not tested to UL standards.

The FPE company no longer exists in any shape or form. However thousands of the defective Stab-Lok circuit breakers are still in homes across the Bay Area and they represent a real risk to your house.

The Problem:

So what exactly is wrong? Well the circuit breakers in question are called the “Stab-Lok” curcuit breakers from FPE. Our electricians have seen these exact circuit breakers in cities like San Mateo, Burlingame, and Millbrae.  What have we observed?

  • The circuit breakers were installed before 1990.
  • They are often recognizable because they say “FPE” on the cover of the circuit box.
  • Scientific tests in the 1980s have proven that one quarter of all FPE Stab-Lok breakers are defective and will not trip circuits correctly.
  • The circuit doesn’t “trip” because the mechanical device which activates the trip jams very easily in Stab-Lok breakers.
  • Can lead to a fire if there is a circuit overload and the breaker continues deliver electricity to the shorted circuit.

Why is the circuit breaker important:

Circuit breakers are there to protect your home from circuit overloads, shorts, and power surges. When the circuit has an overload, the breakers will “trip” by breaking the electrical current to that circuit. If the circuit doesn’t break the overload continues and it is very easy for the circuit to burn through its housing and cause a fire.

So what do you do if you see one of these in your home?

fpe circuit breaker

Call us right away! We’ll make a full assessment of your situation and take into account all your existing electric infrastructure, then we’ll make the right recommendation for your house.

Green Energy Partnership for San Mateo & Peninsula

Peninsula Clean Energy for San Mateo

San Mateo Green Energy

A proposal for San Mateo and other cities to band together to purchase renewable energy in bulk is gaining steam in the Peninsula. The Peninsula Clean Energy is known as a community choice energy (CCE) program, sometimes called “community choice aggregation”.

The Peninsula Clean Energy program is a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) that gives homeowners the opportunity to get larger parts of their energy from renewable energy and would give residents in participating cities within the county the chance to get a greater percentage of their electricity from renewable sources at prices competitive with PG&E rates.

A JPA is an entity that gives local governing bodies the power to act as a unified decision making body for their scope of control. It is becoming more popular in situations like this, where a conglomeration of districts can realize cost savings by grouping together.

The Peninsula Clean Energy JPA would give the program the authority to make any decisions about buying Green energy for the cities who have joined the coalition. The core of the idea is for the people and entities of San Mateo county to pool together and buy large amounts of renewable energy resources in exchange for discount prices..

Proponents reviewed what renewable and clean energy combinations might best work for San Mateo and other peninsula cities. A variety of city councils have discussed the proposal, including:

  • Atherton
  • Woodside
  • Menlo Park
  • Portola Valley
  • San Mateo

The Proposal

Under the proposal of the program almost 300,000 PG&E customers in the Peninsula would get almost all of their electricity from renewable resources. Modeled after similar programs that are already in place in Sonoma and Marin counties, the program would be partner with the federal Office of Sustainability to pilot the program.

In order to get any momentum for progress the program must have at least 3 of the 20 San Mateo county cities join the initiative.

The JPA would allow its customers to buy renewable energy at competitive rates. Over time city residents can expect their electricity costs to be reduced by using renewable energy and many city officials are excited about the prospect.

A JPA agreement is expected to be in place by the end of winter 2016 and the tentative plan is to start purchasing renewable energy next summer.

There are even options for 100% of county residents to get their power from renewable energy.  This scenario means zero emissions would generated during energy production. Customers in the county who buy their power from companies such as SolarCity will not be affected by the proposal.

If the proposal is adopted, the cities participating will continue to get their electricity delivered by the current electricity lines utility (PG&E).

Local electricians have stated that they think the initiative is a good idea. This is not an endorsement of the initiative. 110220v is simply reporting on the proposal. We’ll wait to see how the whole thing shakes out.

Advisory Committee

The Clean Energy program is scheduled to meet 7pm to 9pm on the 4th Thursday of each month and is open to the public. The program is being run by San Mateo County and the official website is here www.peninsulacleanenergy.com

Who installs motion sensor lighting?

How Landscape Lighting Makes Your Home Safer


Millbrae ElectricianMany homeowners use landscape lighting on their property to accentuate flower beds, walkways, or specific trees. Landscape lighting is a beautiful way to add to a home’s curb appeal and helps to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere for visitors. There is a much more important reason to use landscape lighting, however. Landscape lighting can actually make a home safer for the family that lives there, and for their guests as well.

Statistics have shown that perimeter lighting around the outside of a home is a very effective deterrent for unwanted intruders. Shrubs and trees that are in the shadows provide hiding places for those seeking to break into a home. Landscape lighting can be an important tool to prevent this, especially near entrances. Landscape lights that shine upward help to eliminate shadowy areas, therefore increasing visibility. For even more security, many homeowners appreciate lights with motion sensors. As he or she approaches the door, a motion-sensor light will come on, providing light to find the right key or keep from stumbling over an unexpected toy in the way. There are various kinds of motion-sensor lights, and many prefer the type that lights up when a person or large animal approaches, but not for a small animal such as a cat.

There are several kinds of landscape lighting, including low-voltage lighting and solar-powered lighting. A combination of both kinds is often recommended. An important advantage of solar landscape lighting is that it does not use electricity, so it is a great way to save money while lighting the property. Common areas for solar lights include along a driveway, sidewalk, in flower beds, near swimming pools, and on the risers of decks and outdoor stairs. Guests for an outside event at night, such as a barbecue or swimming party, will appreciate the added security of lighting to let them see where they are going and to help prevent falls. Landscape lighting is a wonderful way for the entire family to enjoy all of their property and be safer while they are participating in outside activities.

Are you looking to install motion sensor lighting in your Millbrae home? Call 110/220V Electric at 650-784-1886 and get started today!