Issues with Challenger Panels

By February 25, 2020May 28th, 2020Electrical, Home Insurance
Challenger Electrical Panel Issues - why are they bad?

As a third series to our issues with electrical panels, we are going to follow up with Challenger panels. Challenger panels practically have the same fire hazards as the Federal Pacific and Sylvania panel, but this panel is newer. Furthermore, some Florida insurance companies do accept challenger panels!

An Introduction to Challenger

The manufacturer of Challenger actually bought out Federal Pacific after the electrical issues came to light. Moreover, Challenger then got bought out by Eaton (Cutler Hammer). However, when Eaton made the purchase on Challenger, Eaton did not have FPE (Federal Pacific Electric) join in on that deal.

It all can be confusing, I get that. But personally, it is important to think about where electrical companies come from because you never know what could happen to your panel in the future. A company with a bad history, might have a bad future.

Challenger Electrical Panel Cover Off
Challenger Electrical Panel Cover Off

The Issues with Challenger Outlined

To break it down, the circuit breakers have been known to overheat/cause scalding on the bus bars. You can see this in action from the picture below.

Scalding and overheating on an electrical panel is a fire waiting to happen. Due to this, some insurance companies are now requiring challenger panels to be replaced.

Challenger Electrical Panel Issues
Challenger Electrical Panel Issues – image courtesy washingtonelectric.net

Identification

To identify if you have a Challenger panel, open your panel cover. The black circuit breakers are labeled with Challenger. You can also look at the design/font of the number on the break to see if it matches this image.

Next Steps

If your inspector or electrician finds a challenger panel, it is important to speak with your insurance company to get ahead of any issues. A home inspector will typically have to report the panel type during a four-point inspection (when a home is 30 years of age, in most cases). The last thing you need is for your insurance company to require you to replace the panel at a bad time.

Typical replacement of an electrical panel is about $1,500. If you can still have insurance with a Challenger panel, check to see if you can lower your premium by replacing it.

Concluding

If you have questions, comment below! You can also contact us.

Want to read more? Here is a great resource on Challenger Panels.

Aaron Shishilla

Author Aaron Shishilla

Aaron Shishilla is the youngest registered professional inspector in Florida. Coming from a family-owned home inspection company and now the marketing manager at Waypoint.

More posts by Aaron Shishilla

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