Most of us are aware of our electrical panel basics, or breaker box, or breaker panel. Whatever you call it, most of us are vaguely aware of where it is located. It’s not something we think about until we need to.
We start thinking about it pretty hard when one of the breakers goes. When it does go, most of us feel pretty useless. When the circuit breaker shuts off, it’s actually a safety feature, not a penalty.
What is The Breaker Panel?
Your electrical panel, or breaker panel, controls and distributes the electricity through your home. It takes the electricity that comes into your home from your electric company and sends it all around your home through circuits.
The electrical panels contain circuit breakers. These are the safety features that keep the circuits from getting too much energy or electricity in one area. They cut off the power or trip when your electrical system has a fault, short circuit, or the wires are overloaded with too much current.
There are several circuits for different areas of the home. Each circuit has a breaker. Depending on the size of your house, you may have more or fewer circuits. A small apartment may only have three. A large home could have a dozen.
What is Inside?
The first thing you need to know about your electrical panel basics are what each switch controls. Many of us wait until it’s too late, and we find ourselves in the dark flipping all the switches until the television comes back on.
One of the most important things you can do is label all the circuit breakers. There is often a guide you can fill in to map out all your breakers. It is helpful to mark the breakers, as well.
They are numbered, going from left to right. These numbers will be odd on the left, and even on the right side. Label each room or appliance on each breaker and make sure you check occasionally, that the tape hasn’t come off or the lettering has faded.
There are also a lot of wires, bolts, and switches. The wires are what carry the circuits throughout the home. The wires connect to the bolts, and those are connected to the breakers. There will likely be empty spaces where an electrician can add more breakers if needed.
Don’t Touch Them
Keep well away from these breakers unless you need to turn one back on. When you open the electrical panel, you will see a metal barrier over the circuit switches.
These are called dead front covers. Only a professional electrician should ever remove a dead front cover. It is very dangerous and could lead to electrocution and death.
If you need help, you should never attempt to fix your own electric issues. Even if you think you know what you are doing, you don’t. Always call an electrician.
What Can I Do?
The most useful thing you as a homeowner can learn is where the electrical panel basics are, and what each switch controls. If you are in a new home, you can fiddle with them as you label them to find out which is which.
Mark them clearly. This will save you a great deal of trouble when one of the breakers goes. Also, get your panel and your electrical system inspected regularly.
An inspection will tell you if your electrical system is up-to-date. You may need an upgrade, as older homes are not equipped for today’s demands.