Most of us don’t realize how much we rely on electricity to navigate our daily lives. From our appliances, to our computers and televisions, even the locks on our doors, almost everything we interact with is powered in some way by electricity. That reliance on electric power leaves us vulnerable to sudden surges that can bring life to a halt.
The main electrical panel is the heart of the electrical supply system in the home. Utility power travels first to the electrical meter on the exterior of the home. From the meter, electricity then energizes the main service of the electrical panel and is then divided into specific branches of circuitry to supply power to household appliances, lighting, receptacles, heating and air conditioning, etc. Read on to find out when it might be time to upgrade the home with a larger service, panel, or add a sub-panel.
Each electrical panel has a finite amount of amperage available, this is determined by the size of the service entrance cable and the main breaker. If a homeowner requires additional amperage they will need to install a new electrical panel with a larger main breaker. If the main breaker trips or feels warm to the touch this is a good indication that the main breaker is being overloaded and a service upgrade is necessary.
Sub-panels are typically installed during remodels or when building an addition or garage. It’s most convenient and cost effective to connect a sub-panel to the main electrical panel with a single wire, rather than running multiple wires for each individual circuit back to the main electrical panel. Especially if the main panel is flush mounted to the drywall and would require minor demolition and repair.
Each circuit in the electrical panel or subpanel is protected by a fuse or circuit breaker which allows a specific amperage of electricity to flow to the receptacles. If the flow of electricity is continually interrupted by tripping circuit breakers or the homeowner notices flickering lights, it could indicate that the circuit is carrying too heavy of a load. If that is the case, the problem should be diagnosed immediately by a trained, professional electrician as this presents a series safety hazard.