Plastic Electrical Panels? Plastic & Electricity?

On occasion, I come across the Unicorn of electrical panels – the Trilliant model plastic electrical panel.

I have talked to numerous master electricians in New Hampshire that have never even seen one of these panels, yet I’ve come across 4 – 5 now in my time as a home inspector.

Now, even if you’re not an electrician, if the idea of a plastic electrical panel seems odd to you, you are not alone in your thinking.

This type of panel was manufactured for only a short amount of time, and was not widely disseminated throughout the United States.

The reason for this, was that electricians generally viewed this type of panel as potentially flawed, and as a result, plastic electrical panels were never welcomed into the industry.

After a short manufacturing stint, the technology was abandoned.

The manufacturer for the panels that I’ve encountered was Square D – one of the most well known and respected names in Electrical Panels in the United States. The model name was Trilliant.

This model of panel was manufactured between the years of 1990 – 1996 by Square D.

Interestingly enough, plastic electrical panels were welcomed with open arms in Europe, but here in the United States, they were met with serious skepticism by most electricians, and as a result were not widely adopted in any area of the U.S.

Because of the skepticism, Trilliant panels and other types of plastic electrical panels (which apparently there were others), were effectively phased out of use here in the States.

There were no known major deficiencies that were associated with plastic electrical panels. But a byproduct of the panels not being adopted for use here in the U.S., was that the circuit breakers and other components of the panels are very expensive to replace.

The only know potential issue with the panel is an issue with the surge protectors that were designed for use in the panels. The surge protectors were recalled in 1995.

The plastic screws that hold the “dead front cover” in place are very difficult to operate and can be easily broken. And of course, the screws are very hard to replace if you do break them. And if you lose enough screws, you have an unsecured panel cover.

I can tell you from experience, that the covers are a pain in the butt to take off. But we take them off never-the-less!

At First Choice Home Inspection, our experience gives you piece of mind!

Michael McCarty
NH Licensed Home Inspector # 316
Vermont Property Inspector License # 143.0134099
HUD 203k Consultant # P-1939

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