Electrical Panel & Circuit Breaker Basics
What does an electrical panel do?
Power – If we were to pick the most important piece of electrical equipment in your home, the Electrical Panel holds the power, literally!
Sometimes referred to as a Circuit Breaker Panel, or a Breaker Box, the Electrical Panel functions as the central point where power comes in from your electric provider and then delivers that supply to all your outlets.
Safety – In a perfect world, this exchange between the Breaker Box and the circuits happens without interruption. The drinks stay cold in the fridge, the lights turn on, and cell phones charge as normal.
Unfortunately, electrical wiring is subject to a variety of factors that can trigger minor headaches for a homeowner or, in the worst-case scenario, endanger the health and safety of the residents.
Because of the potential hazard that electricity poses, your panel also functions as an essential safety mechanism. Inside the metal box, circuit breakers are designed to detect problems and cut the flow of electricity to prevent damage from power surges, meltdowns from overloaded outlets, physical shocks, short circuits, and even electrical fires. This process is commonly referred to as a “tripped breaker.”
What are some common reasons I should call an electrician to look at my electrical panel?
Outdated Electrical Wiring – Homes with newer, modernized wiring systems will rarely require a visit to the electrical panel. In older homes you can expect far more issues. If you find yourself consistently “tripping the breaker” when doing normal daily tasks, it is time to call an electrician, as this is generally a sign there are deeper problems with your wiring system that must be fixed.
Installing Additional Circuit Breakers – If you decide to spruce up your home with some renovations, it’s possible you will need additional circuit breakers installed into your electrical panel. If there is room in the current box you have, an electrician can install the new equipment there. If there is not room, the technician can put in a secondary breaker box.
Where is my electrical panel located?
The panel is a metal case with a door, generally located on a garage wall, hallway, or inside a closet. If you have an older home, it is possible your panel is located on an exterior wall.
Can I DIY repairs on my electrical panel?
Don’t get zapped with a DIY!
Beyond the simple and safe tasks of flipping the breaker switches back on with the protective cover intact, tinkering around with an electrical panel is extremely unsafe and can lead to severe electric shock or death.
All repairs with the front cover off should be left to a qualified, licensed, and insured professional electrician. When requesting a service call, reputable companies like JSR Electrical Services will provide you with the documentation to verify their technicians meet all these requirements.