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How Does an Electrical Panel Work?

electrical panel

Electricity is something we often take for granted. Lights, appliances and entertainment are all available with the flick of a switch. However, many people don’t know how electricity gets from power lines to light bulbs. Spoiler alert: it’s the electrical panel.

How Electrical Panels Work

If the wires throughout your home are veins, the circuit breaker panel is the heart of your electrical system. Without it, electricity can’t make its way from grid power lines to the rest of the home.

When you open the circuit breaker box, you’ll see a grid of circuit breakers, with the main breaker that controls all of them at the top (or sometimes on the side). The power lines run through the main breaker to the rest of the panel and the breaker indicates the amount of power, or amperage, that your home can use at one time. Today, the standard amperage is 200, but it can be more depending on your electrical needs.

Each circuit breaker is a switch that controls the flow of electricity to various circuits, which in turn carry current to power lights, appliances and more. If you switch the main breaker off, the power to the entire home is cut. If you switch a single breaker, you control power to a specific circuit. If a circuit uses more electricity than it can handle, the breaker will trip (cut off power). Each circuit breaker is labeled with a number that corresponds to a description of what the circuit powers in a list connected to the panel.

Electrical Panel Repair

Because your electrical panel controls the home’s electricity, some of its components are designed to fail in order to protect us from electrical hazards and fire. Blown fuses and circuit breakers are easily replaceable, but they can indicate a larger problem if they need to be replaced frequently. If you’re uncomfortable making breaker box repairs, call a professional electrician.

Circuit Breaker Panel Replacement

Replacing electrical panels is more common than you think, especially in older homes. If you’re wondering whether it’s time to upgrade your electrical panel, look for the following signs that it needs replacement:

  • It’s over the electric panel life expectancy of 25 years.
  • The wall around it is warm
  • The box buzzes
  • You still have 100 amp service

When it’s time to replace or upgrade your electrical panel, contact the experts at Benchmark Electrical Services and begin a service request.