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  1. #1
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    Default Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Can anyone identify this particular breaker / panel as problematic?
    I know about Zinsco and Sylvania stab-loc panels and the names keep coming up on searches but with no definitive information.
    I am planning on defering this to a sparky, but more information is better. This is in a condo conversion and the last inspection I did for this customer was on a condo with Aluminum wire that she walked on.
    Thanks, Jim
    p.s. I thought you might get a chuckle at the "fire extinguisher" at the panel; we won't have to have the fire truck parked out front on this one, no sirree!

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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Jim,

    Regardless of whether "that type" of panel is problematic or not (I don't know that it is), *that* *panel* *is* "problematic" in that it appears to have been pretty well painted over by the painter.

    It looks to me like there are but two choices:

    1) The panel interior needs to be replaced and it gets replaced.

    2) The panel interior needs to be replaced and it does not get replaced.



    (Of course, though, where are you going to get a new panelboard interior to fit that old panel enclosure? You're not - at least no unless someone has some "NOS", 'new old stock', panelboard interiors which match that one laying around their warehouse.)

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Correct Jerry on all points with this panel, but I am always looking to learn more about the details on which things are problems and which are not for the future. I already have this report written including the paint.
    I did see on one of the sites with the defect information that said that changing out the internal bars was a possibility, but as you alluded, that could be problematic in itself.

    Jim Luttrall
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Jim,

    Sylvania did not make the Stab-Lok Panel. Sylvania bought Zinsco and continued to manufacture essentially the same product under the Sylvania name. Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) made the Stab-Lok.

    The panel in your pics is neither. Just because the breaker handles are different colors does not mean that it is a Zinsco. The panel in your pics is a newer "universal" panel. The Zinsco/Sylvania panel can be identified by the parallel buss bars. Take a look at the photos I have included.

    Breakers from many different manufacturers are interchangeable in these panels. However, they may not have been tested and UL approved to do so. Probably not terribly unsafe, but not tested. However, many building departments approve mix & match installations like this. I usually mention the mismatched breaker/panel.

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  5. #5
    Rob Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    That is a Bryant/Westinghouse box. Bryant breakers from the 80s are color-coded.

    RT


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Can anyone identify this particular breaker / panel as problematic?
    I know about Zinsco and Sylvania stab-loc panels and the names keep coming up on searches but with no definitive information.
    I am planning on defering this to a sparky, but more information is better. This is in a condo conversion and the last inspection I did for this customer was on a condo with Aluminum wire that she walked on.
    Thanks, Jim
    p.s. I thought you might get a chuckle at the "fire extinguisher" at the panel; we won't have to have the fire truck parked out front on this one, no sirree!



  6. #6
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Two differing characteristics in the Sylvania and th FPE are the buss bars.

    The FPE had a real design flaw with the 220 breakers not seating properly. The result was microscopic arc's continuoiusly eating away at the buss-bar. It was about 4 years ago, someone had posted a picure of an FPE panel with a 30-amp breaker just hanging there when the cover was removed. My thoughts were, "Wow, Never seen that happen". Well, low and behold, the very next FPE Stab Lok I removed the cover from had two breakers fall out at me!! I mean all the wal out-- just dangling there. Scared the sheeiit out of me!!

    Now the Sylvania panels have aluminum buss bars that because of similar situations with the contact points, would become eatten all the way thru-- Litterly have parts of the bar gnawed away-- creating alot of heat build-up at these points of contact.

    Zinsco--Zwas bought by GTE - Bryant - Sylvania and for a time true Zinsco breakers were unavailable. These hpanels basically had the same issues as Sylvania with the aluminum buss bars and crappy breaker contacts. One of the issues was that folks would try to retro-fit the buss bars by removing the aluminium and replacing with copper. Well, you still had old breakers that had previously overheated. The best option (cost effective) was to go ahead and replace the panel.




  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Thanks for the info guys, this basically confirms what I have been able to discover. I have not seen an issue personally with this Bryant/Sylvania half-breed, but both brand names come up when researching the Zinsco.
    Gunar, my bad, I mixed my terminlolgy with the stab-loc reference.
    Thanks guys.

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    I cropped and enlarged those for my field notes:

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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    I did see on one of the sites with the defect information that said that changing out the internal bars was a possibility, but as you alluded, that could be problematic in itself.
    Jim,

    Absolutely ... it is a possibility to change out the panelboard interior.

    Though, with an older panel, that possibility narrows with age as replacement panelboards (panel interiors) for the older products become no longer available.

    Replacing an panelboard (panel interior) with a different one is not allowed as the combination panelboard/enclosure no longer has any listing addressing it. At least *I* have never seen where (for example only) Square D lists their enclosures for use with a "proper" (specified model panelboard) OR *any other* panelboard by them (one not listed on the label) or one by any other manufacturer.

    With Zinsco and FPE, though, replacing the panelboard interiors is out of the question as *they are the problem*, and installing a new panelboard interior is only updating the problem (if new ones can even be found, which is unlikely).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Any feel for the cost of attempting that versus replacing the panel? It seems like labor time in replacement would quickly make it impractical.

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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Walker View Post
    Any feel for the cost of attempting that versus replacing the panel?
    Of attempting what?

    Replacing the interior?

    It seems like labor time in replacement would quickly make it impractical.
    *IF* a new, matching, same model, panelboard interior is still available, then that is much less time as all you need to do is disconnect every conductor, remove all the breakers, replace the interior panelboard section, then reinstall the breakers and conductors.

    When replacing the entire enclosure and all, once all the conductors are disconnected and the breakers removed ... that's when the *REAL RUN* begins, especially if there is conduit. Even without conduit, with NM cable, you may find conductors which are too short to be connected to where they need to go.

    Given the choice, replace the interior panelboard ... if still available.

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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    As Jerry indicated, replacing the interior may be impractical. I believe that Bryant no longer makes panels or breakers. So, it would likely be necessary to replace with a used panelboard.

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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    So, it would likely be necessary to replace with a used panelboard.
    No, no, no ... a *new* panel.

    Don't suggest replacing something with something "used", that's just asking for more trouble than there is already.

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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Jerry,

    That was what I intended. It just didn't come out right.

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  15. #15
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    That's alright Gunnar. I knew exactly what you meant....

    Many years ago, I replaced my old wife with a new/used one.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Of attempting what?

    Replacing the interior?



    *IF* a new, matching, same model, panelboard interior is still available, then that is much less time as all you need to do is disconnect every conductor, remove all the breakers, replace the interior panelboard section, then reinstall the breakers and conductors.

    When replacing the entire enclosure and all, once all the conductors are disconnected and the breakers removed ... that's when the *REAL RUN* begins, especially if there is conduit. Even without conduit, with NM cable, you may find conductors which are too short to be connected to where they need to go.

    Given the choice, replace the interior panelboard ... if still available.
    Thanks for the input. I am aware of the difficulty factor. What I poorly worded was "what is the professional electrician cost to the consumer differences in rebuild versus replace; 25%, 50%?" At 50% or more, rebuilding looks real attractive.

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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Walker View Post
    "what is the professional electrician cost to the consumer differences in rebuild versus replace; 25%, 50%?" At 50% or more, rebuilding looks real attractive.
    I would say that the difference between replacing the panel interior (if the proper listed one is still available, and for newer panels that should not be a problem) and replacing the entire panel - enclosure and all, is more more than double to replace the entire panel ... if it is an easy one, otherwise more than triple.

    The 'best' way to buy a new panel interior is to buy a new panel, enclosure and all, of the same make/model/etc., and just take the interior from the new panel and put it in the old one. Then just discard the new enclosure along with the old interior.

    It's like the difference between buying a new cars assembled, or buying the parts and assembling it yourself ... the new assembled one is cheaper.

    If you are dealing with a panel which has conduit to it - the replacement time gets high as the new enclosure's knockouts more likely than not do not match the locations of the conduits - creating major headaches (been there, done that - several times -, no desire to do it again).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Thank.

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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Or, thanks as they say in English.

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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Getting back to the Zinsco panels, if the panel appears to be in proper working condition would you you still write in your report the possible problems of the Zinsco?


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Gilstrap View Post
    Getting back to the Zinsco panels, if the panel appears to be in proper working condition would you you still write in your report the possible problems of the Zinsco?
    Absolutely!

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Thanks Jerry, That's exactly what I did.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Bryant Breakers in Sylvania panel

    Dave,

    Look at those things like this:

    Imagine you are about ready to drive down a one lane road with a fence on each side - no where to go, and for the next mile or as far as you can see, you see nothing but roofing nails covering the road surface ... YOU KNOW you will get a puncture and a flat tire, just not when, you are now half way down that road and you have not had one yet, what do you think your chances of making it the rest of the way without getting a puncture or a flat tire are?

    Slim to none.

    When you see an FPE or Zinsco, if you do not see a problem, your chances are slim to none that there will not be any problems, and, in fact, the chances are slim to none that there are not any problems now - you just did not find them - they are there, just like those nails are there.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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