Modern homes require electricity to function. Most people don’t understand how electricity makes its way into the home or how it is distributed throughout the residence. They know where the utility lines are coming into the home and where their electrical panel is. However, electrical panels are more complex than they realize.
Electrical Panel Types
Many people don’t realize there are several electrical panel types. When someone talks about the types of main breaker panels, they have to ask how many types of panel boxes there are. The following list summarizes the five types seen today.
Main Breaker Panel
The main breaker panel in the home is the one most people are familiar with. This electric panel box controls the flow of electricity into the home and is the most common of the electrical panel types. Besides distributing current to the different portions of the home, this panel outlines the amperage capacity while protecting the circuits in the home. With the help of the main breaker found in this panel, a person can stop all power to the home. This is typically only done when there is electrical work being carried out in residence or when there is an emergency.
The panel is also home to the ground and neutral bus bars which ensure the circuits don’t overheat. This panel is where you will reset a breaker if it trips. Manufacturers classify these panels according to their amperage and the number of circuits they can handle.
Fuse boxes continue to be found in many older homes. These old electrical panel types protect against excessive current flows and system temperature increases. The fuse, much like a modern circuit breaker, functions to protect the home’s electrical system from excessive temperatures or a power surge. If the fuse detects either, it burns out or blows. It differs from a circuit breaker in that the fuse cannot be reset. The homeowner or an electrician must replace it.
A metal box houses these fuses, much like a breaker panel. However, fuse boxes are smaller than electrical service panels and they hold a maximum of 12 fuses. Modern electrical panel types have replaced these fuse boxes in most homes because standard fuse boxes come with a 60-amp total capacity rating. Electrical systems in modern homes come with a 200-amp capacity.
Main Lug Panel
Main lug panels are like main breaker panels, with one key difference. A main lug panel lacks the main breaker. Many homes feature main lug panels functioning as sub-panels. Line wires used in this panel run to a lug or electrical connector. You find the main breaker for this panel at the meter, which allows power to be cut to the home without entering the residence.
An electrician can connect this main lug panel to the main breaker panel, which is often done when it is being used as a sub-panel. A Safe Electric electrician can install this type of panel when the main panel cannot hold more circuit breakers. However, we often recommend upgrading the main panel box in this scenario.
A modern home might need multiple circuits, but the circuits aren’t in proximity to the main panel. When this situation arises, you might choose to have a sub-panel installed. This electrical panel uses a single circuit from the main panel. However, the sub-panel contains its own circuit breakers.
The breakers found in the sub-panel cannot exceed the amperage of the breaker connected to the main electrical panel. This sub-panel relies on the disconnect found in the main breaker box. The sub-panel is used to distribute electricity throughout the home, but it isn’t possible to increase the power in residence using sub-panels. This would require an upgrade to the main breaker box.
Individuals who own a generator to power the home when the electrical grid goes down may have a transfer switch. This device does exactly what the name suggests. It takes generator power and transfers it into electrical power.
Often, the installation team wires this backup power into the home’s breaker panel. The homeowner may manually start the generator and transfer the electric load to this backup power source, or the process might be handled automatically when the system detects a power outage.
Contact Safe Electric to discuss the different electrical panel types and determine which best meets your needs. Our team is available to answer questions, and we can send a licensed electrician to your home to make this determination. Your safety is our top priority, so we ensure the right box is selected for your home and needs.