The big gray and black box in your garage doesn’t need to intimidate you anymore and it’s a good idea to know what it is and how it works. It’s the breaker panel for your home and is what receives and distributes electricity throughout your home. Getting to know the breaker panel will be extremely useful a dark and dangerous situation.
How Does the Main Breaker Panel Work?
The breaker box is a big switch that has a bunch of smaller switches inside it. Your house is divided into different rooms/zones and each is controlled by a switch. For example, if you want to turn the power off in the kitchen you just flip the switch. Flip it back and you’ve got power again. The switches are called breakers and they perform other safety features. They protect your wiring from overload which in turn protects you family and your home from fire and shock.
Main Electrical Breaker Panel Components
• Main Breaker. This switch controls the power to the whole house. Most homes around 2,000 square feet have 200-amps and smaller homes will have 100 or 150-amp varieties. In an emergency situation you can cut the power to the house by flipping this switch.
• Double-Pole Breaker. This switch comes in different amperages that will be marked on the switch. Most electronics in the home use 15 and 20-amps and bigger appliances need more. Water heaters typically use 30-amps, clothes dryers use 40-amps, 50-amps for stoves and 70-amps for HVAC units.
• Single-Pole Breaker. These switches can run a lot of stuff in your home. From light switches to garage door openers.
• Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters. AFCIs are great in preventing fires in the event there is an accidental electrical arcing/discharge that usually doesn’t pull enough power to trip a regular breaker.
• Empty Slots. The empty spots are there to accommodate the ever-growing need and want for more ‘stuff’.
• Sun Panels. Most panels have sub panels. You should know what they run in an emergency situation.
How Does a Circuit Breaker Panel Work?
Before you’re in a situation where the house is dark and you’re trying to figure out what works what, make sure your breaker panel is labeled and flip the switches to make sure they are connected to the right zones/appliances in your home. You don’t want to be guessing in an emergency. If there is an electrical overload in your home, the breaker will trip. You’ll know which one it is because it will be resting in a different position than the rest of them. It may be sitting halfway between ‘off’ and ‘on’. To restore power to the circuit, move the breaker completely ‘off’ and then back ‘on’ again. There are dangers you need to avoid with your breaker panel.
• Make sure your hands are completely dry when you touch the breaker box and make sure you’re not standing on a wet surface either.
• Do not touch or try to fix exposed wires.
• Don’t keep switching a breaker as it may be overloaded and won’t reset anyway.
• If you’re ever in doubt, call professionals.
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