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Is My Challenger Brand Electric Panel Safe?

Electric panels created decades ago may have dangerous faults in the design process. If you know the electrical system in your home is more than a couple of decades old, it's a good idea to contact an experienced electrician to ensure your electric panel is safe.

How Your Electric Panel Works

Challenger brand electric panels were produced in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many homes were built during this time and Challenger was a popular brand of electric panel known for quality, affordability, and easy installation. The dangers of the Challenger circuit breakers weren't fully understood until after these panels were used in thousands of homes.

Your electric panel is the hub that receives electricity and sends it throughout your home. All of the circuit breakers to your home are located in the electric panel including the main breaker that turns off power to the entire house. Each of these breakers is designed to carry a specific amount of current. When it becomes overloaded, the breaker trips, temporarily breaking the circuit of electricity. This important feature is designed to keep breakers from overheating and potentially catching fire.

Why Your Challenger Panel Puts You in Danger

Thousands of Challenger brand electric panels manufactured between February 22, 1988, and April 29, 1988, were voluntarily recalled with the offer of free replacement from the Challenger company. While the company is no longer in business and the offer has long since expired, 9,000 of the panels were never located. The reason for this recall was a faulty ground circuit that could break and result in danger of electric shock.

Unfortunately, this isn't the only problem with Challenger electric panels. Over the years, it has been discovered that Challenger electric panels contained faulty circuit breakers which short out and overheat, even under normal circumstances. The overheating action causes expansion and contraction which leads to arcing electric currents between the circuit breaker and the bus bar. Eventually, the damaged parts fuse together and fail to do the vital job of tripping a breaker when necessary. Overheating wires have the potential to ignite and result in a house fire.

Invisible Danger

Perhaps you've had a Challenger panel in your home without incident for decades. You might have even personally inspected your system to make sure there is no damage. Just because the damage isn't visible when you open your circuit box, doesn't mean the danger isn't present. When breakers begin overheating, there is no evidence when you simply open the panel. The back of the breakers is where overheating occurs and where damage is visible. Replacement is critical because you can't see how long the breakers have been overheating and electric panel failure or fire damage is imminent.�

Challenger Electric Panels in Disguise

Sub-standard electrical panels with dangerous faulty wiring problems were manufactured for decades from the 1950s through the 1990s. When these brands met trouble, they often chose to rebrand instead of correcting the issues with the product. This is true with the company that created Challenger electric panels.

Other brand names associated with Challenger electric panels include

  • Zinsco
  • GTE-Sylvania
  • Sylvania
  • Eaton Corporation

Not every electrical panel in within these brand names experiences failure or overheating. Still, the potential risk puts your family in considerable danger. Additionally, these systems were created decades ago, making them outdated for today's electrical demands. Don't take chances on an electrical system that could endanger your home and family. If you have questions about the age of your home's electrical system, contact an experienced electrician to discuss an electric panel upgrade.

Signs You Should Consider Replacing Your Home's Electric Panel

Many homes built in the 1980s and 1990s were designed for a significantly different lifestyle than most people are accustomed to today. This puts more stress on the electrical system in your home. If you think your electric panel might be outdated, you're probably right. Waiting for something to go wrong could lead to disaster. Here are a few signs you should consider replacing your home's electric panel.

  • The brand could be defective; Examples include GTE Sylvania, Zinsco, Challenger, Federal Pacific Electric (Stab-Loc). Rebranding was a major issue for faulty electric panels, so these brands often experience the same problems.
  • Your lights flicker frequently. When your lights flicker or dim when other appliances are being used, your panel may be having trouble distributing electricity.
  • Your breakers trip frequently. While this means the breakers are doing their job, it's likely the electric panel wasn't designed to handle the amount of power you currently use.
  • You can't get homeowners' insurance (or your premiums are higher) because of the wiring in your home.
  • Acrid or burning odors are coming from the panel. This is a major red flag that circuit breakers are overheating, melting, or in danger of catching the surrounding materials on fire. This symptom should trigger an immediate call to your electrician.
  • Your appliances overheat quickly and often. This is a sign that the circuit is overloaded and you might need an updated panel.
  • You still have a fuse box. A functional fuse box isn't a problem in itself. However, it's a sign your system is outdated and should be examined by a professional.
  • Additions or construction that enlarges your home has been completed after the electric panel was installed. Increased space leads to increased electricity needs and your electrical panel should be updated to meet the elevated needs.

Your electrical panel is designed to provide convenience and safety to your home. Outdated technology and faulty techniques can lead to inconvenient lapses in power and potential fire danger to your home. If you think your electrical panel is outdated, inefficient, or faulty get in touch with the experienced electricians at iVol3. Our team has extensive experience in replacing these inferior systems, and we can provide you with a safe modern solution that meets today's electrical codes and demands.