Why is the electrical panel board important? This article will soon answer this question. If you have ever experienced a thunderstorm, natural disaster or otherwise large electrical event, then you have probably dealt with a power outage and needed to visit the electrical panel in your home to turn the power back on. The electrical service panel is what distributes currents of electricity to all of the various rooms and components of your home.
If you have not yet familiarized yourself with it (or even found where it is located) then it would be a good idea to do so, particularly in the case of natural disasters. Having the ability to get to the correct circuit breaker (both for turning power off and on) can mean the difference between life and death. The electric panel is usually located in basements, backrooms and other 'tucked away' areas of the house. Once you open the panel's door, you will have access to all of the circuit breakers or fuses in the house. Usually, there will be one panel for the whole house, but if there were additions to the house or remodeling (such as installing a new kitchen); there may be additional sub-panels for those as well. Because all of the circuit breakers are located in this one spot, this panel may also be referred to as the 'breaker box'. Within the breaker box, the circuit breakers are stacked and a lever that is labeled 'on' and 'off' controls each one.
There is a regulated amount of current that can go through each breaker, so if there is a short or an overload (such as when lightning strikes) it causes the breaker to trip and protect the circuit by cutting the power. In addition to all of the breakers for the individual circuits in your home, there is also a main breaker controlling the power entering your home. Like other circuit breakers, it can be either 'on' or 'off.' If it is not located in the breaker panel, it may be located in a separate panel board elsewhere in the house. In certain homes, you may also have a fuse box with screw-in fuses instead of circuit breakers, but the function and the way it works is basically the same. To see the main breaker, which you will need to do if you plan to add a circuit or replace one that goes bad, you need to take the electric panel cover off.
This can normally be easily accomplished with a screw driver as electrical panel covers are usually held in place with 4 screws, one in each corner. You can easily identify the main breaker because it has two thick black wires feeding into it from the electrical meter and is made of two circuit breaker handles put together. The main circuit breaker also identifies the amperage capacity (how many electrically charged particles flow past a given point on the circuit breaker per second) of the electrical panel and will have a number written on it indicating the number of amps. A 100 amp electrical panel board is the lowest allowed by code today, but 200 amp and even 400 amp panels are also available. The most common is 150 amps. Although we all hope to avoid natural disasters, shorts, or any other kind of potentially bad or dangerous situation, that situation can only be made worse, by not being able to get the power back on when you need it. As such, it is always good to take the time to find, and understand your electrical panel and electrical subpanel making sure you replace any faulty breakers as soon as possible.
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