How It Works
A home’s electrical panel sends power to electrical devices
and outlets. The panel has one large circuit breaker to protect the home and
many small circuit breakers to protect individual appliances. These circuit
breakers are built to automatically cut power when there’s an electricity
problem. The circuit breaker box is usually located in the basement, closet or
What Can Go Wrong?
Breakers failing to open or close and blown fuses sometimes
occur and will require replacement. If a circuit breaker keeps tripping or a
fuse repeatedly blows even after replacement, investigate the underlying cause.
Loose connections may cause excessive heat and may lead to fire. If the panel
becomes excessively dirty or is exposed to moisture, one or more breakers may
Size and Carbon Footprint
An electrical panel is rated in
amps. The type and size of an electrical panel depends on the age and quantity
of loads in a home. Prior to the 1960s, electrical panels were typically rated
100 amps and contained screw and cartridge type fuses. Today, home electrical
panels contain circuit breakers and are typically rated up to 200 amps. Common
fuse and circuit breaker sizes range from 15 amps to 40 amps. A 15 or 20-amp
circuit breaker usually protects lights and wall outlet circuits. Clothes
dryers and central air conditioning units are normally protected by 30-amp
breakers while ranges are protected by 40-amp breakers.