What is the electrical panel?

Your electrical panel is the heart of your electrical system. This box is where the power from the utility company is received and distributed to all the outlets in your home.

electric panel
Electrical Panel with Circuit Breakers

If you are running too much current in your system you may experience overheating, melting, and even fires. When wires are overloaded, they may cause shocks. These hazards can be prevented by circuits shutting off in the panel. Fuses used to do this in the older panels, but today it’s done with circuit breakers.

These circuit breakers must be operational at all times to ensure safety and functionality. Your electrical panel must be able to handle all you and your family’s electrical needs. If you add on to your home or purchase large appliances, your current panel may not be able to handle the load. You might need a “service upgrade” or a “panel upgrade” which will expand your panel and add more circuits to handle the new load.

How will I know if I need an Upgrade?

You made need an electrical panel upgrade or replacement if one of the following is true:

  • Not Enough Power. You don’t have enough power for your panel. It may need more circuits or just does not have enough power.
  • Safety. Older panels cause safety concerns and make pose potentially serious risks on your home.

An electrical panel, even though it is important and very sophisticated, will not change the amount of electricity going to your home automatically. With the addition of large appliances, your electricity needs can change. Frequently flipped breakers means that you might need an upgrade.

Here are some situations that mean an upgrade is needed:

  • Central AC installation
  • Older house with undersized panel
  • New oven, hot tub, or spa
  • Additional rooms
  • Renovations to the kitchen or bathroom

You AC contractor will be able to tell you if you need an upgrade when he is installing a new unit in your home.

Upgrades for Safety

Today’s breaker panels are designed to be safe. Earlier panels worked well at the time but now have a high risk of fire and shock. Below are some items that should be replaced as soon as possible:

Fuse Boxes

Older systems utilized fuse boxes instead of circuit breakers. Consumption of electricity was a lot lower those days. 30 to 60 amps were all that was needed back then, while today we are using 100 to 200 amps at the least. To run that much power through a fuse box would cause it to overload and blow fuses. It’s important to not put oversized fuses in older systems as this may cause a serious problem. This could lead to overheating and may even cause a fire.

Federal Pacific Electric Company Electrical Panels

The FPEs Stab-Lok electrical panels were very popular in the 1950’s and 1980’s but have very serious flaws that could lead to shock or fire.

federal pacific panel
A Federal Pacific Panel – Call An Electrician ASAP

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Dr. Jesse Aronstein said: “The presence of a Federal Pacific panel in a home should be classified as a “Safety Defect”… There is no question that the Federal Pacific Stab-Lok panels should be replaced. There is no practical and safe alternative.”

Please call us for a free consultation if you believe you have this type of panel.

Zinsco Electrical Panels

These electrical panels were manufactured until the mid-1970s. The flaws of these panels cause circuit breakers to malfunction and possibly melt. Sometimes the breakers appear in the off position but are actually still providing power to the circuit.

Zinsco Panel
Zinsco Panel

Pushmatic Electrical Panels

Circuit breakers of Pushmatic Electrical Panels often cause issues with time and wear. They become increasingly harder to reset with use. When weakened, they can flip themselves back on in an unpredictable manner.

Other names for electrical panels

  • Main Panel
  • Service Panel
  • Distribution Board
  • Residential Service
  • Breaker Box
  • Power breaker
  • Circuit breaker panel or box
  • Fuse box
  • Load center
  • Panel board
  • Fuse board