The electrical service panel, also known as a breaker box, is a central distribution point that connects the external wires coming from the street with the internal cables of your home’s electric system. Nowadays, every house has varying types of panels located in garages, utility rooms, or basements. Besides the main electrical service panel,which can vary between fuse panel and circuit breaker panel, a sub-panel is also present. The sub-panel is small breaker box that functions to supply electricity to any specific area in your home.
How Does an Electrical Service Panel Work?
The electrical service panel was designed to provide the different areas of your home with adequate power supply safely and securely. The external source through which the service panel distributes the power is your local power provider. The goal is to spread a sufficient amount of electricity to branch circuits. Branch circuits feed the outlets and switches of different rooms and home appliances with electricity. The fuses and circuit breakers protect your appliances, wiring, electronic devices, and even residents from circuit damage. Damage usually happens when devices receive an excessive amount of electrical current from overloading a circuit, improper use, or a short course.
A Brief History of the Breaker Box
Early beginnings of an Electrical Service Panel
During the early 1900s to 1950s, the commonly used service supplied to the homes was 30 amps. To protect the branch circuits, these fused panels were composed of two plug fuses. They also possessed a knife blade switch which was used to disconnect the power from the whole board and so the house. A ceramic fuse holder, typically mounted within a black metal enclosure, was used to install the fuses. Only 120 volts of electricity were supplied by a 30-amp panel, which considerably failed for powering our modern household appliances such as computers, electronics, and other devices. Homes with these electrical panels must be upgraded to 100 AMP circuit breaker panels to meet the modern-day power requirements.
Modification in electrical service panel after the 1950s
The 60-amp fuse panel became a widespread sensation in the early 1950s and 1960s. Mounted inside a gray metal cabinet, this fused panel featured a 240-volt feed. It possessed two cartridge fuse blockers. One of them was used as the main and held 60 amp fuses. The second fuse blocker was used as an appliance feed and held 30 amps. Its function was to power those appliances that required a high amount of electricity to operate, such as a water heater, electric dryer, etc.
It consists of four plug fuses as well, whose purpose was to serve four branch circuits. The energy supply from these electrical panels was sufficient for considerably small powerhouses, but in larger houses that may have more than four branch circuits, the 60-amp fuse panel was not enough.
Modern Electrical Panels
At last, in the mid-1960s, the circuit breakers entered the game of electrical panels and been standard ever since. The reason circuit breakers were such an important advancement is that they came with the advantage of reset after any fault occurs, unlike fuses that needed to be replaced when tripped. They include both 120 and 240-volt circuits with a total amperage of 100 amps. The prominent traits of a circuit breaker panel are the main breaker and two rows of circuit breakers that operate for the branch circuits.
Normally many circuit breaker panels have 100-amp service, but a 200-amp breaker panel is required as the standard for many new homes or old houses with updated wiring. A 200-amp breaker panel tends to support more branch circuits and can provide electrical capacity two times greater than a 100-amp panel. By installing a 200-amp breaker panel in your newly bought house or the renovated one, you can free yourself from major power issues.
Breaker Panels of the Future
With every passing time, the energy requirement in a normal household is increasing day by day. Consumers now want to adopt different ways to control and minimize their usage. Modern problems require modern solutions. For this reason Span, founded by ex-tesla engineer Arch Rao, has become a leader in electrical panel innovations. Arch Rao pointed out that many EV owners and solar customers need to upgrade their old electrical panels to accommodate these new advancements. Rao found a way to convert this panel into an intelligent and app-controlled energy gateway. The newly found company aims to bind the solar users with a battery capture system.
In a recent announcement, Span shared the news about its smaller but more versatile unit, the “span smart panel”. The span smart panel is said to be better and more efficient than its predecessor.
The system shows great efficacy with most home electrical breakers. It enables the customers to monitor and control the circuits through a connected mobile app. With a smart panel you can power critical loads by switching the room nodes. It also supports Ethernet, Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth connections.
The smart panel is designed to interpret the power draw from the entire house and every connected device inside. Alongside interpretation, it can also evaluate the data coming from the solar output and the status of battery storage in homes.
An electrical service panel ages alongside your house. After a specific period, it will need new installation or upgrade. It might look like an easy job to do from the outside, but certain precautions must be taken; otherwise, you can get yourself in danger. For this reason, we advise you to leave the work to the professionals.