Electrical Panel Basics
As a homeowner, it can be easy to stay out of the loop on the inner workings of your electrical system. When was the last time you thought about your electrical panel when you flipped on a light switch or plugged in your laptop? But knowing some of the basics about the electricity in your home can help you troubleshoot a problem on your own or diagnose one before you seek professional services.
24/7 Electric is here for you for any of your electrical needs, and we will be glad to help you solve any problems you are having. But we also want to help educate homeowners on some of the basic elements of their electrical panels. Here is a brief introduction to some electrical panel basics for the next time you take a look inside the box.
What is an electrical panel?
Essentially, your panel is the connection point between the power lines outside and the wiring within your home. All of the power available for your home, which is typically 100 amps or 200 amps, is located within your electrical panel. Power from the street is connected to the panel from a “service drop.” It is then split up into separate circuits located at different spots throughout your house.
What will you find inside an electrical panel?
The power lines on the street connect to the “service drop,” which is connected to lugs (the metal nubs) and thick wires inside the panel. There are between 20 and 30 spots for circuit breakers, which are switches used to protect electrical circuits throughout your home from overcurrents of too much electricity. You will also see a tangled mess of different wires.
Is it safe to do any work on my electrical panel myself?
Some people do choose to make changes to their electrical panels themselves, and it can be done successfully. However, we always recommend letting a professional, experienced electrician make fixes and upgrades to your panel. If you do choose to make changes within your electrical panel, beware of the metal lugs. A shock from the lugs will result in death or serious injury. Even if you do not touch them directly, a tool in your hand can conduct the electricity to you and harm you.
Can I upgrade my electrical panel to have higher amps, or add more circuit breakers for my house?
Yes and yes! In fact, in some cases we recommend it. While 200 amps is the industry standard found in most modern homes, some older homes only have 100 amps in their panel. If you want to upgrade to 200 amps, a licensed electrician can help. If you want to add more circuits within your home and corresponding circuit breakers, an electrician will be able to help walk you through the necessary steps and make the installations.