An electrical panel, also known as a breaker box or distribution board, is a crucial component of any home’s electrical system. It is responsible for distributing electricity throughout the house, regulating the flow of electricity, and protecting the electrical system from overload and short circuits. Electrical panels come in various types and configurations, each with their own unique features and benefits. In this article, we will explore the different types of electrical panels and their configurations.
Main Breaker Panels
A main breaker panel is the most common type of electrical panel found in residential homes. It is installed by the utility company and is responsible for distributing electricity to the various circuits in the home. The main breaker panel has a large breaker switch that can be turned off to shut off all electricity to the home in case of an emergency.
Main breaker panels can have different amperage ratings, such as 100 amps, 200 amps, or more. The amperage rating determines how much power the panel can handle. It is important to have a main breaker panel that is properly sized for the electrical needs of the home. If the panel is undersized, it can result in overloaded circuits, tripped breakers, and potential safety hazards.
A sub-panel, also known as a distribution panel or load center, is an additional electrical panel that is installed in a separate location from the main breaker panel. Sub-panels are typically installed in areas of the home that require additional electrical capacity, such as a garage, workshop, or home addition.
Sub-panels are connected to the main breaker panel with a feeder circuit, which supplies electricity to the sub-panel. The feeder circuit has its own breaker switch in the main panel and is sized according to the electrical needs of the sub-panel.
A transfer switch is a special type of electrical panel that is used to connect a backup generator to the home’s electrical system. In the event of a power outage, the transfer switch allows the generator to supply electricity to the home’s circuits.
Transfer switches can be either manual or automatic. Manual transfer switches require the homeowner to manually switch the electrical load from the main power source to the backup generator. Automatic transfer switches sense when the main power source has failed and automatically switch the electrical load to the backup generator.
Other Types of Electrical Panels
In addition to main breaker panels, sub-panels, and transfer switches, there are other types of electrical panels that are used for specific purposes. Some of these include:
- Fuse Boxes: Fuse boxes are an older type of electrical panel that use fuses to regulate the flow of electricity. They have largely been replaced by circuit breaker panels, which are more reliable and easier to reset.
- GFCI Panels: GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) panels are designed to protect against electrical shocks and fires caused by faulty electrical equipment or wiring. They are typically installed in areas of the home where there is a higher risk of electrical hazards, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
- AFCI Panels: AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) panels are designed to detect and prevent electrical fires caused by arcing faults in the home’s electrical system. They are required by the National Electrical Code in certain areas of the home, such as bedrooms and living rooms.
Electrical panels come in various types and configurations, each with their own unique features and benefits. Understanding the different types of electrical panels and their configurations is essential for maintaining a safe and reliable electrical system in the home. Whether you need a main breaker panel, a sub-panel, or a transfer switch, it is important to consult with a licensed electrician to ensure that your electrical system is properly installed and maintained.