Have you ever wondered how the electrical system in your home works?
Electricity has brought a lot of conveniences into our homes. More than just a bunch of wires, the electrical wiring system in our house is a complex system designed carefully to deliver the power we need as efficiently and safely as possible.
Getting to know about your electrical wiring system and understanding how it works is an essential step towards becoming a more confident and empowered homeowner. Electrical panels play a significant role in the power distribution in your home and having a basic understanding about them offers you benefits you might not have even realized.
Understanding Electrical Panel Wiring
The electrical panel is known in various names – a load center, circuit breaker, breaker panel, service panel, or distribution board. It is typically enclosed in a steel box and houses all the circuit breakers in your entire electrical system.
As your home’s main power distribution board, it is responsible for distributing and regulating the electrical current that flows into each of the circuits.
Electrical panels come with switch levers that you can turn on or off. If you take a look at your electrical panel now, you will see a main (and the largest) breaker usually mounted at the top of the panel. Below it are smaller circuit breakers that represent every room in your house and sometimes the hard-wired appliances in your home such as your air-conditioning units and water heaters. You’ll also see a number on the panel which identifies your circuit breaker amperage capacity. The amp varies from 100, 150, 200, or 400, but a typical household utilizes 100 amp, and it is the minimum amp allowed for residential homes.
For older homes, instead of an electrical panel you may still be using a fuse box that basically functions the same. However, instead of breakers what you have are fuses which are essentially the weak links in an electrical circuit designed to burn out safely when there is a circuit overload. At this point, when a fuse burns out, the overload should be addressed, and you’ll have to replace the fuse with the same amp rating, so the circuit works again. Generally, fuse boxes are known to be less safe and efficient compared to the modern electrical panels that come with circuit breakers.
How Does an Electrical Panel Work?
There is a good reason behind why an electrical panel is dubbed as the heartbeat of the entire electrical system of your home. Electrical panels work by supplying and dividing the electrical power into its subsidiary circuits. It gets the power from the service drops which are then split into the sub-panels or circuits. Electrical panels keep your overall electrical system safe and secure. They help you avoid the risk of short circuit or fire accident in your home. In the event of an electrical overload, the circuit breaker automatically shuts off the power supply to the circuit, reducing the risk of fire and further damages.
Electrical panels are strategically located in your home in such a way that they require little to no maintenance at all to ensure they are able to function smoothly. In general, they should be placed in a safe area where they are not exposed to direct sunlight, moisture, and harmful chemicals.
How Do Electrical Panels Keep You Safe?
When working with electricity, safety should always be the top priority. Your home’s electrical system must adhere to building codes necessary to protect you, your family, and your home. Electrical panels protect your wiring from shorts or power surges, effectively cutting off or shutting down the power supply when tripped. For instance, when wires are tripped, it’s your circuit breaker that shuts off the power supply to prevent fires.
The Importance of Learning About Electrical Panel Wiring
So, why should you care about electrical panel wiring?
It is important that you know where your electrical panel is located inside your house so you can turn it on or off immediately when needed. Understanding how the electrical panel wiring functions is also vital for your protection and safety. A responsible homeowner knows the importance of being well-prepared. And, the basic knowledge about electrical panel wiring will save you from troubles later on.
Dealing with the electrical wiring panel can be dangerous and may even cost your life. If you are unsure what to do, a trial and error can be a costly mistake to make. That said, if a problem arises or you need a repair done in your electrical panel, it is best to contact a licensed electrician immediately to take a look at the issue for you.
When it comes to maintenance, a little effort can go a long way. Make sure you keep the electrical panel cover on and keep it closed to protect it from dusts and other substances that may cause damage. Ideally, you should also have a professional electrician check your electrical panel wiring at least once every three years to keep it working at its best.