Facts about your home’s electrical service panels.
When you hear the word Florida, you’ll likely think about the sunny weather and fun theme parks you can visit. Given the many perks the state has to offer, it is no surprise that many enjoy living there. However, no matter where you live, being a homeowner always comes with its fair share of challenges. One of these would be understanding your electrical service panel, which serves as the main distribution point that sends power to different areas in your home.
While you may be familiar with how electrical panels look, but you might not be as knowledgeable about how they work. To describe it simply, the electrical service panel connects the service wires from outside into the respective wires that branch out into different areas of your house. Understanding your breaker box allows you to fix minor problems immediately and identify warning signs that may require a professional’s help.
To give you a better idea of your service panel, here are some general facts related to it.
Locating the Electrical Service Panel
Generally, electrical panels are often placed in an area away from daily household activity locations. Some locations include the garage, basement, utility closet, kitchen pantry, or lower level hallways. If you live in an older home, you may also find your panel on an exterior wall, though this location is not as common as the others.
Electrical Service Panel Components
When you open the panel’s outer door, you will find these components:
Main Circuit Breaker. On top of your panel, you will find a switch that serves as the main circuit breaker. It feeds power to each of the breakers that connect to different parts of your home, so turning it off essentially shuts down power to your whole house.
Circuit Breakers. The electrical service panel consists of multiple circuit breakers usually organized in two rows. Each of them has a switch to feed power to its corresponding circuit.
These breakers can either be single-pole, which can handle 120 volts, or double-pole, which can handle 240 volts. Double-pole breakers will usually be connected to more power-intensive devices like your air conditioner or heat furnace.
Sub-panel. Some electrical panels may also have a sub-panel if you have installed a generator or additional breaker capacity to your home.
Breaker Panel Sizes
Electrical panels are measured in amperage ratings to determine the electrical capacity that the panel can take. A residential electrical panel can come in varying sizes, ranging from 100 amps to as high as 400 amps. Nowadays, modern constructions equip homes with at least 200 amps since 100 amps may not be sufficient for most residences, unless you do not use heating appliances or air conditioning.
Types of Electrical Panels
There are various electrical panel types that you can familiarize yourself with to understand their differences and functions. Here are some of the most common types you will find in the market today:
1. Main Breaker Panel. This is the most commonly used panel type, which controls electricity that flows into each of the areas in your home. It is designed to distribute a certain amperage to each circuit and cut power when needed to prevent overheating.
2. Fuse Boxes. Fuse boxes, as their name suggests, consist of small fuses placed inside an electrical panel to prevent overloads. When excess current flows through a particular circuit, the fuse shorts out, so you have to make sure they allow enough current to flow to your appliances.
3. Main Lug Panels. These panels have lugs that the line wires can run into, so they do not have a main breaker. You can connect the main lug to your main breaker to act as a sub-panel, with the latter being a separate disconnect.
4. Transfer Switches. If you have a backup generator at home, these switches will transfer power from the generator to the electrical power in the main panel to supply power even during outages.
Get Your Electrical Panel Checked Today
Getting your electrical service panel inspected at least once a year will be good practice to ensure all its components are working properly. Call Pinellas County Electric today at 727-269-1982 to get a professional inspection or breaker box repair services to keep your home safe and eliminate unwanted hazards. Take charge of your home’s electrical safety by choosing a trusted and professional electrician in Pinellas and Tarpon Springs.