How to Work With an Electrical Panel

The Electrical Panel is the heart of your home’s electric system. It contains the circuit breaker switches that control the flow of electricity to your lights, appliances and equipment. It also houses the main circuit breaker that monitors your entire home’s overall electrical flow. The panels are typically made of metal and have one or two doors that keep the breakers and wiring safely out of sight and reach.

When working with electrical panel, the first thing to do is make sure that there are no hazards in the area before opening the door. If there are, remove the hazard before proceeding. Also, be aware that there may be live wires that could be exposed. It is best to leave this type of work to a licensed electrician.

Once the safety hazards are taken care of, you can remove the dead front cover to gain access to the panel. It is usually held in place by screws in each corner. Once the cover is removed, you will be able to see all of the individual switch handles inside the panel.

At the top of the panel is the main breaker. This is the only switch that will shut off all of the circuits in your home. It is a good idea to label each breaker with its purpose. This will help you determine which ones are on or off and will be a valuable reference for the next time you need to do some troubleshooting.

Each of the individual circuit breaker switches is rated for how much current it can safely carry. The higher the amperage rating, the more power that can be drawn by the circuit. This information is printed on the breaker handle.

When a circuit breaker is in the “on” position, it means that electricity is flowing from the main power lines into your house and to that specific space in your house. If you add an appliance to that space, it will most likely cause the circuit breaker to trip. This will protect you and the appliance from damage.

If you notice that a breaker is constantly tripping, there might be too much current flowing through the circuit. This can be caused by an overloaded electrical system or a bad connection in the wiring. To fix this, you will need to increase the capacity of the circuit breaker or move some of the existing equipment into another circuit.

If your service panel is full of circuit breakers and has no more spaces, you will need to have an electrician install a new main panel box or a sub-panel to feed the extra power to your home. Another option is to use tandem circuit breakers, which fit into the same-size slot as regular breaker but can serve two separate circuits. These are great for older homes with fully-loaded panels that need to be updated. If you do choose to use these, be sure that the electrician is familiar with the proper installation procedure and knows how to properly install them in a service panel box.

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