Known as a distribution board or a breaker box, among other names, an electrical panel is an enclosed, steel box that houses your electrical system’s circuit breakers, which are switches that regulate your home’s power supply. Circuits distribute the power provided by your electrical service-usually from a municipal source-throughout your home.
Circuit breakers protect your wiring from electrical surges or shorts, effectively shutting off the power supply when tripped. Every electrical panel has an inherent electrical-capacity load to handle specific usage needs. If you increase your home’s load capacity, you will need to add another breaker box to compensate.
HOW DOES AN ELECTRICAL PANEL WORK
Where does the power come from: Electricity enters your home via supply lines that are connected to your electrical meter box, which is located outside and keeps track of how much electricity is being used every month. Those supply lines ultimately connect directly to your distribution board, where the electricity is controlled by a series of circuit breakers that distribute power to each of your home’s rooms—one circuit breaker per room.
How does your electrical panel keep you safe: Safety is the most important consideration when working with electricity. Municipal building codes dictate how your electrical system needs to be set up to protect you, your family, and your home. For example, circuit breakers have to shut off the power supply when wires are tripped in order to prevent fires. In addition, wall outlets located in potentially moist areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens, need to have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which protect you from shock by shutting off the electrical supply to the circuit at the outlet stage.