What is a Main Electrical Panel
What's with this metal box with switches in my garage?
As you add electrical appliances and circuits, you increase the demand on your power panel. Depending on when your home was built and how much electricity you use, your power panel may need to be replaced or a sub-panel added to keep up with demand.
All of the power for your home comes through this panel from the utility company, to the exit wires that split off and service different parts of the house. These exit wires are called branch circuits or branch wire circuits. Service wire lugs connect the power from the utility through the electric meter to the electrical panel, and are highly dangerous points that should never be touched. The main electrical panel is the central distribution point for all branch circuits of the house.
Branch circuits are connected to the service panel via circuit breakers. The circuit breakers have no purpose other than safety, since they immediately cut off electricity to branch circuits in the event of overload. You can access these circuit breakers and turn them on and off to restrict power to a particular circuit in your home.
The service wire lugs connect the power from the utility to your home and contain intense, concentrated power. It is impossible to turn off the power to the service wire lugs. Main service is continually on, except in the event of an overall power failure, or if you make a special request with the utility company to shut off power from the street.
Unlike branch wire circuits, which are just a portion of the entire electrical service to the house, the service wire lugs represent every single amount of electricity coming into the house. If your home has a screw-in fuse panel, an obsolete panel, or even worse, has lost its UL listing due to a faulty main breaker or circuit breaker - you may have to consider a new electrical panel for your home. Installing a new electrical panel in your home will increase your safety and peace of mind knowing that the heart of your electrical system is working properly for you and your home.
Components of main electrical panels include; the housing unit, panel door, circuit breakers, hot bus bars, neutral bar, ground wire and a ground bar. Changing out or upgrading your electrical service is a job for an experienced electrician.