Once you are sure that your home requires a new electrical panel, it is time to decide which one you should choose. While this is a job for a licensed electrician, there are a few tips that can help you make the right decision. But first, what is an electrical panel?
What is an Electrical Panel?
An electrical panel, also known as a breaker box or a load center, is a distribution point for electricity in your home. It distributes power from the energy provider to various circuits throughout the building. The panel houses circuit breakers that protect each circuit from overloads and short circuits.
When Should You Replace Your Electrical Panel?
If you notice any of the following signs, it may be time to replace your electrical panel:
- Your main circuit breaker trips frequently
- Burning or melting plastic near the panel
- Outdated or no longer manufactured panels
- Panel manufacturer types thought to be dangerous. (See Consumer Product Safety Commission Report here)
- Damage to the panel caused by water. Evidence of rust is a good sign of this.
- Plans for a significant addition to your building that will require significant additional power
What To Consider When Choosing an Electrical Panel
When selecting an electrical panel for your home, the major consideration should be the amount of power you need and the quantity of circuits necessary. The panel should also be compatible with other components and wiring in your home, as well as be rated for the current it needs to carry.
How to Choose the Right Size Electrical Panel
The size of the panel you need depends on the number of appliances you desire to use at the same time. There are typical main sizes for residential panels, but larger services may be needed.
These sizes include:
An experienced electrician can help you decide on the right size panel for your home. They will look at the power demands of all your appliances and lighting fixtures and determine the amp rating required for your electrical panel.
Make sure to hire a licensed electrician who will make sure your panel is installed safely and correctly. They will also ensure any existing wiring in your home meets safety standards and update it if necessary.
Circuit Breaker Panel Amperage
The amperage of the breaker panel will determine the amount of power it can handle. Most homes have a 100 through 200-amp panel but if you have higher power needs, it may be necessary to upgrade to an even larger panel or service. Even though your panel is full it does not necessarily mean you need a larger amperage size. Panels come in various physical sizes allowing for more circuit breakers to be installed in the same main breaker sizing. For example you can purchase 200 amp main breaker panels that have 30 spaces for breakers or 200 amp panels with 60 spaces.
Types of Circuit Breaker Panels
While most homeowners are only familiar with the main type of panel, there are a few other types available.
Main Breaker Panels
The function of the main breaker panel is to protect the home from electrical damage. This type of circuit breaker has a switch that supplies power to all devices in the house. If there is an overload on any one device, the main breaker trips and shuts off all of the circuits. It can be installed indoors or close to the meter.
Subpanels are typically used for larger homes or detached garages where extra power may be needed in certain areas. It can also be used to increase the number of spaces of the main breaker panel if there are too many devices connected to it. This type of panel will require its own circuit breakers and is usually installed in an area close to the destination of the circuits it will control. For example in a garage or a 2nd floor.
If you have a backup power generator, a transfer switch Panel may be necessary. This type of panel is used to control the amount of power supplied by the generator and ensure that it remains safe. It functions along with the main control panel.
These are some of the tips to keep in mind when choosing an electrical panel for your home. Now that you have a better understanding of different types of electrical panels and the factors to consider when choosing one, it is important to consult with a certified electrician before making any decisions.
Choosing the right electrical panel for your home is important, as it ensures your system will operate efficiently and safely. Consider factors such as amperage, number of circuits, and future needs before making a decision. In the end, it is best to consult with a qualified electrician who can advise you on the best option for your home.
Consult With a Licensed Electrical Contractor Today
M.R. Electricians are experienced in the installation and maintenance of electrical panels. We can help you choose the right panel for your home and ensure it is installed correctly to keep your family safe. Contact us today at (301) 871-0477 to learn more about how we can help with all of your residential and commercial electrical needs.