The Electrical Panel is a series of switches and other circuit breakers that cut off or supply power to different parts of the building. It also houses wires, fuses and other components that work together to create the electrical circuits that keep your home functioning.
You’ll typically find the breaker box in one of your garages or on the side of the house near the street. It may also be located in an interior room like a basement, attic or closet. Older homes used round, screw-in fuses, which were replaced each time they “blew.” Most newer homes have updated panels that use circuit breakers. These are less prone to overheating, and can be switched off and on without having to replace them.
The breaker box itself is a metal cabinet with a cover that can be removed. Inside are several rows of electrical outlets, often numbered from left to right. Some are 15 amps, which control lighting and standard outlets, while others are 20, 30, 40 or 50 amps, which are able to power high-use appliances such as kitchen or laundry appliances. In some homes, there is a main breaker box that feeds the entire house, and in other cases, there is a sub-panel for a specific room or appliance.
Most breaker boxes have space to add more circuit breakers, and you can usually see how many spaces are open by looking at the metal knock-outs on the panel itself. If the spaces are filled, you’ll need to call an electrician to install more outlets or upgrade the breaker box.
The electric current that reaches your home starts at a power plant, travels long distances through high voltage wires (like the ones you see towering over your neighborhood) to a transformer in a city or town, then to a local transformer (like the large “cans” on poles along the road) and finally to the meter, which is where it enters the house.
A faulty breaker or other electrical mishap can put your whole house at risk of damage and fire. In the worst-case scenario, it can even cause a fire that could lead to property damage and possibly death.
Electric control panels can be found in industrial areas as well, and they help to manage complex industrial systems by giving real-time data of each change that occurs within the system. These panels are usually hazard-proof and flame-resistant with complete safety gears to protect the operators in case of any emergency or accident.
While it’s important for non-electrical persons to be able to gain entry into an electrical panel to carry out first-level breakdown intervention, this is not a task to take lightly. These devices can be very dangerous, especially when they’re not maintained properly. The best way to learn how to safely gain entry into an electrical panel is by taking a course. The course will teach you how to identify tripped circuit breakers and overload devices, and how to reset them once you’ve identified the problem.