What Is Your Electrical Panel?

The electrical panel is the main control board that manages power for your home’s entire circuit system. Located in the garage, basement or a utility room, it contains individual circuit breaker switches that monitor each space in your house’s distribution system and regulate how much electricity can flow to them.

Each breaker switch is rated based on the amount of safe electrical current it can carry, called its amperage. When the switch is in the “on” position, it allows electricity to flow from the main source (like your city’s power grid) into your home. It then monitors the specific circuit it controls to ensure that no more than its allotted amperage is being used, which helps prevent overheating and fires.

If you find yourself constantly flipping a breaker switch or replacing fuses, it may be a sign that your electrical panel is not up to the task of managing your home’s electrical demands. If so, it’s time to consider upgrading.

Generally, your electrical panel is made of metal and has one or two doors that cover the equipment and wiring to prevent access by children or anyone who shouldn’t be handling it. The enclosure also keeps water out of the wiring and helps contain any electrical discharges, keeping your house clean and safe.

Some panels have a double pole breaker at the top that is labeled “Main.” It powers all of the circuit breakers and can be set to either “On” or “Off.” Other breakers in your electrical panel will have labels indicating their amperage capacities, from 15 amps for standard outlets to 100 amps, which is the maximum allowed by code in residential construction today. Those that have higher amperage ratings are meant for devices like furnaces, heat pumps and air conditioners as well as EV charging stations.

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