How the Electrical Service Panel Works
Basic knowledge of electricity starts where the electrical panel originates. The electrical panel has access to all the branch circuit breakers or if you have an older panel where the fuses are located. In many residences, the main electrical service panel feeds the whole home but you could have another sub-panel to serve a certain area such as an addition or new cooking area.
The circuit breakers are a lot like a light switch with the “On” or “Off” position. You’ll see a bigger double pole circuit breaker at the top of the box called the “Main”. It is the first breaker between your home and the utility company and will shut down all the power in your home.
It will not reset all the various other switches or breakers, I have people call that tell me they shut off and on the main and they still don’t have power to some area of there home. Each switch is separate however if the primary is off there is no power getting to the other breakers. Occasionally when a breaker shuts off they will still look like its in the “ON” position. Reset the breaker by manually shutting them off and then back on. Always have an expert Electrician in Orange County Ca diagnose your electrical system prior to turning breakers back on.
With a service panel having fuses, you’ll have a lot of screw-in-fuses rather than circuit breakers however the feature of this box coincides.
The cover of the boxes are often held in spot with 4 screws, one in each edge. Remove these and you will have access to the breakers in the box. This should only be done when adding a new breaker and adding a brand-new circuit.
Power originates from the Utility power line, via your electric meter on the outside of your house and into the breaker box. The “Main” circuit breaker is exactly what regulates the live power from getting to the other breakers in the box. It is the one that has two thick black cables feeding it from the electric meter. The Main can be used to power all the circuits on or off at once.
The Main circuit breaker will be marked with the size of the breaker box determining its amp ability such as 100 amp or 150 amp. 100 amp solution is the minimum enabled by code today, with 150 amp being quite typical. Breaker boxes are likewise offered in 200 amp and 400 amp dimensions.
Single Pole Breakers offer 120 volts and are typically available from 15 amps to 20 amps. These breakers serve the smaller circuits for receptacles and lighting. Double Pole Breakers give 240 volts and are available in rankings from 15 amps to 50 amps. These breakers are utilized for dedicated circuits for bigger appliances located in the kitchen which include electric stoves or even electric dryers located in the laundry room, and of course air conditioning systems.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or there better known as GFCI receptacles and breakers safeguard an entire circuit from ground faults happening within the circuit. With a GFCI Breaker you do not require local GFCI’s. These are typically used on circuits where the possibility of deadly shock is greater, such as washrooms and kitchen areas. GFCI’s shut off when identifying a ground fault.
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