What does an electrical panel do?

An electric panel is often referred to as a breaker box, and it’s the metal box where all your home’s circuits are stored. If it’s labeled, and it should be, you’ll see placards next to each label stating what it controls. Knowing where your electric panel is and what it does is essential for the safety of your home.

Understanding Electric Panels

Your electric panel is essential for your home’s safety. The circuits in the box either allow power to certain areas or cut off power to certain areas or certain appliances. In general, large appliances get their own circuit, so you may see labels for your washer, dryer, air conditioner, water heater, freezer and furnace. All of the rooms in your home should also have their own circuit, so you may see labels for bedroom 1, 2 and 3, dining room, laundry, kitchen and bathroom. You will also see a larger switch labeled master, which controls whether or not your home has power.

Understanding the Circuit Breakers

The circuit breakers in your electric panel are there for safety reasons. If an appliance experiences a power surge, the breaker for that appliance ‘trips’, cutting off the power, which can help avoid a fire. For example, if your dryer overheats and it causes a surge in the wiring, the breaker for your dryer would flip, cutting off the power and potentially avoiding a fire.

It’s important to note that if a breaker trips, you’ll probably want to call an electrician. This is because the reason for the tripped breaker may not be readily known. There may have been a problem with the wire to that room or appliance. The appliance may be broken, or the circuit breaker may have gone bad, and you’ll need to have that diagnosed before you turn the breaker back on.

Understanding the Master

The master breaker is usually located at the top of the panel. It’s a much larger breaker than the standard circuits. This switch controls all the power to your house. When it’s on, you have power to your home. When it’s off, no power is reaching the inside of your home. If the master breaker trips and you didn’t turn it off, it could be due to a large surge of power from your electric company, a lighting strike or an indication that the entire panel has overloaded. This situation needs the help of a licensed electrician.

Reasons You’d Want to Turn the Master Off

While it’s rare to have to turn off the master circuit breaker, the need can arise. If your home has flooded either from a busted water pipe or a severe storm, you’ll want to turn the master off to prevent electrocution. If you have a gas leak, you may want to turn off the master in addition to your gas to prevent an explosion.

What to Do if You Need Electrical Panel Repair

If you suspect your electric panel is bad or that you need a repair, it’s best to call a licensed master electrician to diagnose the problem and fix it. The good news is that our electricians at Luminous Electric can diagnose and repair or replace your electric panel and the individual circuits. We can also add circuits to your panel if you’re installing a new appliance or adding a room to your home.

To learn more about our electric panel services, call us at 941-727-0272.



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