Electricity has become a commonplace in our day to day living today. But, let’s not forget that electricity can be harmful too when we are reckless, and we neglect electrical safety practices.
Our electrical wiring at home is a complex system designed to provide us with the electric current we need to power up our appliances and lighting fixtures as safe and efficient as possible.
One of the most critical components that make up our electrical wiring system is the electrical panel. A malfunctioning or inadequately performing electrical panel can be the source of serious electrical hazards. In this article, we’ll brush up on some basic information about the proper way to convert the electrical panel that will help you use energy safely and efficiently.
What Does An Electrical Panel Do?
The electrical panel is also known as the main circuit breaker or distribution board and is considered as the heart of the electrical wiring system at home. Its primary function is to distribute power supply to the rest of the electrical circuits of your home.
Likewise, the main circuit breaker controls the current that flows to the specific circuit, and it is meant to protect your home from power surges and short-circuits or current overloads. If the electric current flowing through one of the circuits exceeds a certain level, the main circuit breaker acts by automatically shutting down the power source to that circuit to prevent further damages including electrocution or electrical fires.
Do I Need to Upgrade My Electrical Panel?
Different homes will have different amp requirements. Your electrical panel’s total amperage capacity should be printed at or near the main circuit breaker. Most household circuit breakers today are available in 100, 150, or 200 amps. It is essential that you do not overload your main service panel. Otherwise, you may encounter frequent power trips which can be dangerous, and you will not be able to enjoy your appliances at home fully. If you are unsure about the total amount of power requirement s you have at home, call an electrician to make an energy assessment for you.
Like in almost all things we have at home, the electrical panel gets worn out over time. Below are signs that you may need to call a qualified technician to change or convert your electrical panel:
● If you see melted or nicked wire insulation at the panel.
● If you notice a burnt smell coming from the panel.
● An electrical panel that feels warm to touch.
● Signs of wear and tear, charring, moisture or extensive rust at the panel.
● All exposed cables leading to the distribution board should be firmly attached to the wall and clamped tightly. The wires must run fairly orderly, and should you see hopelessly tangled wires don’t hesitate to call an electrician for an evaluation.
● Circuit breakers that frequently trip.
● Flickering lights and trouble using multiple appliances simultaneously.
● If you are upgrading your home or adding major appliances such as a high-end refrigerator or hot tub, that may cause your power usage to exceed the capacity of your current electrical panel.
Why You Should Consider a Panel Upgrade if You Live In An Older House
For older properties built sometime before the 1970s, you may still be using a fuse box which only has a 60-amp capacity. In the olden times, this amperage capacity is enough, but with the modern appliances we use now, 60 amps will not be able to get the job done.
Fuse boxes are also considered to be riskier in terms of safety. Fuses are designed to blow off safely in the event of a current overload while circuit breakers have internal switch designed to trip under the same circumstances. After they trip, you can simply reset a circuit breaker, whereas once a fuse blows, often because of overheating, you will need to replace it with a new one.
How to Convert to An Upgraded Electrical Panel Correctly
Working at the electrical panel poses a serious danger from electrocution and electrical fire, so it would be best to contact a competent and licensed technician if you need any work, repair, or update done at your panel.
However, if you are confident that you can do the job yourself, you’ll need to know exactly where your main circuit breaker is located and make sure that your new electrical panel can cater to your home’s entire power needs without any issues. Here are the steps you can follow in upgrading your main distribution panel:
1. Before you do any work at the main circuit breaker, make sure you have turned off the main power source going to it.
2. Make sure that you take note of the old wiring connections and placements so by the time you need to attach the new one you’ll have an idea which wirings go together.
3. Remove the faulty circuit breaker from the wall.
4. Attach the new circuit breaker into place carefully.
5. Reconnect the loose wires and make sure the wires are reattached securely in place.
6. Install the panel cover back.
7. Turn the main power on. You should get power back into your home. Remember to contact an electrician immediately for any issues after you’ve installed a new electrical panel.
Upgrading your electrical panel is not just a good idea for your overall convenience — sometimes it is vital for your family and home’s safety. Moreover, no matter what your reasons for converting your circuit board are, what’s more important is to do the necessary conversion properly and with safety in mind.