The Electrical Panel in Your Home

The Electrical Panel in Your Home

The electrical panel in your home is where incoming electricity is divided into the circuits that power your lights and outlets. Also known as a load center, breaker box or fuses box, it’s a hardwired system that should only be worked on by licensed electricians.

If you suspect yours needs an upgrade, call our Pinellas County Electricians right away. Older panels are prone to malfunction and pose a risk of fire.
What Is an Electrical Panel?

The electric service panel is a key component to your home electrical system. It provides the connection between the external wires that run from the outside of your house to the internal electrical wiring within your walls.

Often found in a garage, basement or laundry room, an electrical panel is a metal box with doors that houses individual circuit breakers. This allows you to turn off the power to a specific outlet or fixture by switching one of the breaker switches. These switches shut off the electricity when it becomes too high, preventing fires and other dangerous accidents.

Your electrical service panel may also contain a subpanel, which helps direct the distribution of electrical energy to different areas in your home. This is common in homes with more than one living space, but can also be added to older houses that use fuses or have 100-amp service that is running at capacity. Knowing the basics of your electrical panel will keep you and your family safe and prevent costly repairs in the future.
What Are Circuit Breakers?

Your breaker panel is where the electricity that comes in from the power grid is divided into the circuits that power your lights and receptacles. It also contains circuit breakers, safety mechanisms that automatically shut off the flow of electricity when too much of it is running through the wiring in your house.

When a problem happens, the breaker’s internal sensor detects the overheating and opens the circuit to cut off the current. This prevents the wires from getting too hot and causing an electrical fire.

The basic circuit breaker consists of a switch that’s connected to either a bimetallic strip or an electromagnet. If the switch closes, it disconnects the power system from the load and allows the operator to reconnect the equipment for regular operation. Some types of fuses require replacement after they blow, but modern homes use circuit breakers that are designed to be reused over and over again. Homeowners who notice that their circuit breaker trips frequently should have it upgraded.
What are Fuse Boxes?

A fuse box is a central switchboard for your home’s entire electrical system, powering lights, outlets, and appliances. Often called a junction box, service panel, or breaker panel, it provides protection from overheated wiring, fires, and other dangerous issues.

Fuse boxes use either screw-in fuses or cylindrical cartridge fuses in fuse blocks. When more electricity is required than a circuit can handle, the fusing element inside the glass fuse body heats up and melts, disconnecting the power. Blown fuses must be replaced with identical fuses.

Most homeowners with fuse boxes have shifted to newer, more efficient circuit breakers in recent years. Fuse boxes were typically installed in homes before 1960, and they cannot provide enough amperage for modern electronics and appliances. If you need to replace a fuse, make sure to turn off the power to the fuse box before doing so. This helps ensure safety and avoids blowing other fuses in the process. You can identify a blown fuse by looking for foggy glass or melted metal inside the fuse body.
What Are Sylvania Panels?

GTE-Sylvania, which later became Zinsco, and whose panels are often seen in homes built in the 1970s, have been found to be dangerous. They have a design flaw that causes breakers to melt to the main bus bar, leaving them permanently welded there and never able to trip when they’re overloaded or in a short circuit.

This leads to overheating, electrical shock and fires in the home. Many insurance companies will not insure a house with a Zinsco panel until it’s replaced.

You can identify a Sylvania or Zinsco panel by its aluminum buss bars and breaker connections. You can also see this type of panel by the presence of soot inside or around its breaker box cover. Other breaker panels, including FPE Stab-Lok, do not pose the same risk. Connecticut Electric replacement breakers have also performed well in tests compared to Zinsco’s faulty design. Having one of these dangerous breaker panels in your home requires prompt replacement by a qualified electrician.Electrical Panel Clearwater

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