How to Choose a Breaker Panel


The breaker panel is an important component of the electrical supply system in your home. As the power distributes to your house from the utility company, it goes through the electrical meter, through the electrical supply system and then to the breaker panel. The electrical power feed is divided into subsidiary circuits, while having separate fuses which protects the electrical system from circuit overload. Choosing the right breaker panel is necessary to get the maximum protection for your home.

  • Understand the components of your breaker panel. The main breaker in the breaker panel identifies the amperage capacity of your breaker panel and limits the amount of electricity that flows through it. The bus bars transmit power from the electrical meter through two thick black wires. The power is then carried through the circuit breakers to the circuits.

  • Determine the amperage capacity for your home when choosing a breaker panel. For example, if your home uses 150 amps of electricity, the breaker panel should be able to handle 150 or more amps. Circuit breakers that provides 100 to 150 amps are more commonly used in homes.

  • Consider the types of circuit breakers that is required. For example, single pole circuit breakers are generally used for receptacles and lighting, with ratings of 15 to 20 amps. Double pole circuit breakers are normally used for hot water heaters and appliances.

  • Calculate the total load for the circuit when choosing a breaker panel. Keep in mind that circuit breakers operates at 80% of its capacity. For example, if your circuit breaker is rated at 20 amps, it should only use 16 amps. Locate the loads of each devices, which is usually indicated on a sticker on each appliance. Add all the loads using this formula (amps = watts divided by volts).

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are replacing a breaker panel, be sure to upgrade to the capacity of amps you will need, if you added more appliances.

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