Anatomy of a Circuit Breaker Box

The main electrical panel, commonly referred to as a “breaker box” is the heart of your home’s electrical system. It is an basic device in the modern world, and one of the most important safety mechanisms that can be found in your house.

Your household’s electricity is sent to your home from the utility company either by overhead strength lines, underground conduits, or a combination of both. After passing by your home’s electric meter, the energy is then sent to the main electrical panel to be distributed throughout the house. The main panel is your dwelling’s strength dispensing center, providing electricity to outlets, light fixtures, and appliances throughout the house.

Electrical service panels are manufactured in various types, sizes, and configurations. The main panel may be mounted on the exterior of the building or, alternatively and more commonly, located inside the building, providing easier access and better security.

The main panel receives electricity by 3 main incoming cables and then routes this strength to many smaller wires which create circuits throughout the complete house. The average breaker panel consists of 2 main “buss bars” which control strength for the complete building. The main breakers draw electricity from the incoming energy source and move it to these 2 main buss bars. Sequentially, these 2 buss bars pass the electricity along to all the secondary breakers. The secondary breakers each control separate aspects of the house. For example, one may control the electricity flow to a particular room of the house, such as the kitchen, while another may control the strength flow to the dwelling’s air conditioning unit.

Larger beakers found in buildings with a higher capacity may divert strength to sub-panels. These sub-panels will have its own set of breakers, used to control a specific aspect of the house.

A ground wire (usually copper) is always installed with the building main service panel for safety reasons. This metal wire runs from the neutral connector located within the panel, to a metal rod pushed into the ground.

Every home’s main electrical panel contains a mechanical switch for each of the circuits contained within the residence. These switches allow the circuit to be deliberately broken temporarily, thereby cutting strength to that aspect of the home. These are used when service or repairs must be performed to electrical aspects of the building. Also, these switches may be “tripped” automatically due to a failure in the circuit, such as a strength overload. This is to prevent damage to the electrical system, in addition as to the building, such as an electrical fire.

The maximum strength amperage capacity for your home is printed on the main breaker. Most residences have a 100-amp capacity, which is sufficient enough for all energy needs in the household. However, some newer homes are being built with a 200-amp capacity, ensuring sufficient energy capability into the future. Some older homes may be found with a 60-amp capacity or lower. This amperage is now considered insufficient for modern household needs and these homes should have an electrical upgrade for safety reasons.

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