Schneider Electric has recalled about 1.4 million electrical panels in the USA, plus another 289,000 units sold in Canada.
The hazard is described as: The load center can overheat, posing thermal burn and fire hazards. Specifically:
The issue detected is a loose neutral screw connection within the QO Plug-On Neutral Load Center.
The recall affects Square D QO Plug-on neutral load centers, commonly called breaker boxes or electrical panels, that might have been installed in homes, recreational vehicles, or commercial structures such as restaurants, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, commercial lighting, and others.
The affected products were manufactured between February 2020 and January 2022, with date codes between 200561 and 220233.
Circuit breaker boxes and covers manufactured between December 2019 and March 2022 are also included in the recall.
The recall notice provides advice on how to read the date codes:
For installed outdoor load centers, the manufacturing date codes are printed on the inside of the cover or door of the unit or on the box itself when the cover or door is open.
For installed indoor load centers, a qualified electrician can locate the interior date codes that are not visible to the home owner.
Affected products were sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, and authorized Schneider Electric dealers nationwide and online.
Remedy: Affected devices need to be inspected to determine if repair or replacement is necessary. Contact Schneider Electric at 1-888-778-2733; option 2,1,4 from 8AM-8PM EST, or via their website.
Recall No. 22-159
Date Issued: 6/16/2022
Well that’s embarrassing. I assume there will be a fix of some sort (not described) that does not require replacing the entire panel. Not rocket science is it?
“The issue detected is a loose neutral screw connection within the QO Plug-On Neutral Load Center.”
I think the truly high tech response to this issue is testing and tightening a single screw.
Most homeowners will never see this recall. And it’s a brand I’ve never used but in that era of COVID 19 I’m not sure lots of similar if not yet detected screwups (pun intended) aren’t going to come to light.
There’s no indication as to why the screw is loose. Stripped and malformed threads?
I have seen more loose and stripped screws in panels from installation and I am not talking just braker screws, than I care to count. Even on feeding wires. Somehow these panels have passed inspection. As Jim Felt mentions above the home owners don’t usually see those unless the situation arises and the panel catches fire.
It’s possible that some homeowners will notice an issue before any harm comes of it. Depending where the loose screw is, a poor neutral connection can be the cause of flickering lights and other voltage spikes because the return path on single circuits can be compromised.
We only spec QO load centers in homes we build because of the superior breaker performance. I’ve done a few with new Leviton panels but they’re expensive and mainly of interest to the Silicon Valley wunderkinden for their home automation integration.
In the past couple of years we had to switch from QO to the more standardized HOM because of supply issues with breakers, though, so I don’t think any of our customers will be affected.
Square-D normally makes solid, reliable stuff. And SE normally provides good support for professionals (they also own APC and Juno). I’m not sure where the breakdown in customer support has happened.
Homeline and QO breakers have the exact same internals. QO breakers are smaller and have the visible trip indicators, and some QO panels have (had?) higher quality bus bars.
Since it’s a loose neutral screw, hopefully the solution is to just tighten the screw to a specific torque figure if there is no damage. If the neutral bus itself is damaged, the good news is the insides of a QO/Homeline load center can be removed with a single screw. The bad news is you first have to temporarily remove every single neutral and hot wire to do it.
So what does it take to find the date codes on an interior panel? Take the entire panel out of the wall?
On a similar note…. These panels and meter panels are HARD to find and the prices have doubled. I bought a 400amp meter combo 2 years ago for $700. Now they’re like $2,000 IF you can find them…. And you can’t….
I have one of the recalled panels. I tried to contact them. They do not really have a plan for repair or replacement. They do not even have directions for the repair.
Wow. A company recalling nearly 1.7 million products needs to be more responsive than that.
I have heard they are only paying $200.00 for an electrician to out with a torque screw driver and tightend 2 screws
Well now I am looking very suspiciously at the new panels I just paid a lot of money to install in my house and garage.
Aaron La Flam
I’m not going to lie or even embellish the facts, I’m not a licensed electrician however I have several years experience in the industry and have made attempts to complete the pre-apprenticeship progran, however due to events outside of my control I’ve been unable to attend for the full duration. Now that I have out of the way, having been raised by an electrician and always had an interest in the topic. This has resulted in a significant effort to learn as much as I can on the subject. Unfortunately the type brand I grew up installing and have always had an admiration for is now in the spotlight but not for the kind of attention that is sought by any manufacturer. For those who don’t know these units are sold under the brand name “Square D”. I’ve personally never had a single issue with the dozens of Square D panels and the hundreds of breakers that are installed in them. I’ve always avoided FPE service panels aka “Stab-Lok” as I’ve seen many examples of premature failure caused by faulty design and construction of the Federal Pioneer and if I recall correctly sometimes called Federal Pacific I’m booked to diagnose and remedy a faulty electrical installation in a condo my friend recently purchased, in about two weeks from now. Just from the description and follow up questions I asked I have concluded the panel is the issue at hand or at least a good portion of the job will be to replace this panel with a new reliable unit. Fortunately I’ve got a rather descent selection or used single phase breakers and even a couple three phase breakers so I won’t have to search for nearly as many components o get the job done. Anyways now that I’ve said my two cents I hope someone finds my experiences with FPE useful and I hope avoids either a fire causing injury, death and or property damage.
Not sure how it works where you live but if your not a licensed electrician you should never under any circumstance work on a electrical panel….I’m surprised you haven’t been sued.
Aaron La Flam
Well for one thing if I’m working under a journeyman as an apprentice I’m 100% legal and fully protected by the law/insurance policies assuming one has been contracted and paid accordingly and the other scenarios are when I perform work for myself or when assisting a home owner who has applied for an “owner’s permit” and I’m assisting them with a signed waiver notorized officially and they understand both the risk they are accepting and the responsibility to ensure it’s safe and not energized until it has passed inspection. In reality I generally energize the circuits long enough to verify everything is operating as expected then I shut it down until it’s been inspected and certified as acceptabl.
in Virginia I’m allowed to work on the panel in any house I own. I have done so, and passed inspection with either flying colors or the usual issues every time. (I was trained by an electrician, and picked up the bad habit of not marking circuits, even though I think it’s a bad habit. So had to send the inspector a pic of the marked up panel)
I’m a competent residential electrician, even though I’m not licensed. I’d actually rather not do electrical, but my electrician is swamped, and he’ll often reply with “charles, you know how to do that, just do it”
Residential electric is easy. Now that said, the amount of handymen and hacks I come after makes me realize I’m the exception not the rule, and most people shouldn’t be touching electrical.
That said, licensed electricians backstab all the time, and I’d fire someone for backstabbing, I can’t believe that’s still legal
Si a todos los Tornillos se le diera el torque que especifica el panel. especialmente al newtral creo que esto no ocurira?
Maybe, but it’s hard to say without knowing what the exact defect/problem is.
si tienen torque correcto probablemente no hay problema. Pero los tornillos deben estar puestos correctamente, no “stripped”.
Sino, va a estar un situacion que se llama “loose neutral” que es my peligroso
One of the three I recently installed was affected, a few hours waiting for chat to catch up with me and I filled in a form and theoretically somebody will contact me at some point in the future and fix the issue. I didn’t see anything untoward with a thermal camera, so I’m not too fussed for the time being.
I think the bigger issue here is, of the relatively small percentage of non-electricians that will see the recall, I’m betting that 90% of them will look at the part number on the door of the panel, not find it in the list because there is nothing wrong with the door and think they are fine. Square-D panels have different part numbers for the door, box and backplane and door’s one is similar in format to the backplane, easy to find and not at all interesting.
I have one of those panels QOC40UF
My panel is on the recall list. However there is a stamp on the panel , signed by an inspector, that certifies the panel was tested and meets the NC energy code. If the panel was tested wouldn’t this defect have been found? Seems like my panel would be fine since it was “tested”?
If in your shoes, I would contact the company, just in case.
Aaron La Flam
I would go a step further and simply replace it with an entirely new panel and ideally one made by a different manufacturer and even more ideally one that have been verified to have the fewest if any recalls at all! I know it’s an added expense but replacing your home, workshop, place of business or whatever else would be considerably more expensive and obviously more tragic if someone is injured or killed especially when it could have been prevented. I’ve always been a fan of Square D panels but I probably inherited that from my father as he also has that preference. I’ve never had one fail and out of the several thousand breakers I’ve installed only one was defective and it worked for several years before if developed a permanently open circuit condition. In other words it simply didn’t conduct current and when tested with a multi-meter for continuity there wasn’t any no matter what the position the lever/switch was in.