An electrical panel is a box of switches and fuses that manages the flow of electricity from your house’s main power source to all the appliances, lighting fixtures and other devices in your home. It is usually located in the garage or on an exterior wall of your home.
Electrical panels contain circuit breakers that monitor the amount of current flowing to a space in your home, called a “zone.” This allows a certain amount of current to flow to these zones, which are sized according to their needs. If there’s too much current being pulled, the breaker will trip, cutting off the flow of electricity. This is meant to protect the circuits from overheating and potential fire. The breakers are rated in amperage, with 15 amps controlling standard light bulbs and outlets, 20 amps controlling high-use outlets, and 30 amps and 40 amps used for electric dryers and dishwashers.
The incoming wires that connect to the electrical panel are connected to busbars, or strips of metal that run across both sides of the panel. These bars are arranged in rows, with one side for neutral and the other for ground. There is also a main switch, usually in the middle of the panel, that controls which breaker in the row to flip on or off.
There are other components in an electrical panel, such as push buttons and pilot lights. These are used by the operators and indicate various conditions in the system, such as an emergency stop red mushroom head push button, MCR reset push button, or other indicator lights. Some electrical panels have a network switch that facilitates communication between PLC and other equipment in the production line.
When working on an electrical panel, be sure to wear proper safety glasses and other personal protective equipment. You should also take a moment to understand how the panel works before opening it. If you have any questions, contact a qualified electrician to work on your panel.
If your panel still has fuses rather than circuit breakers, it’s time to upgrade! Upgrading to a breaker panel will keep your home safe and your utilities more efficient. You may even want to consider upgrading to 200 or 400 amps for your home, depending on its size and the number of electrical appliances that you have. If you decide to do this, your home insurance provider will probably need to know about the change and will have specific requirements that must be followed. It’s important that you label each breaker with clear and meaningful labels. Avoid using shorthand or nicknames; these won’t make sense to someone else who doesn’t live in the home. For example, “upstairs west bedroom” isn’t a good label, but “upstairs west bedroom breaker 2” would be. The labeling will be helpful for anyone who needs to troubleshoot problems in the future.