Understanding Your Breaker Box
An electrical circuit breaker panel is the main distribution of electrical circuits in your home. The system receives and distributes electricity through your home, and without the proper knowledge, you could end up in a dangerous situation if you tried to work on it.
How Does a Breaker Box Work?
The breaker panel is essentially a big switch filled with other smaller switches. The smaller switchers — breakers — control the power in all aspects of the building. They’re similar to the switches inside a living room. Flip with the switch on the wall, and you’ve got power and vice versa. As an added feature, these breakers perform a variety of safety services. They protect the wiring from overload, your home, and its occupants from fire and electrical shock.
Explaining the Aspects of a Breaker Box
Each circuit within your home has a corresponding breaker. The corresponding breaker in the box not only controls whether electricity is on or off but, if there is an overload on a circuit, the connected breaker automatically shuts off to stop the flow of electricity to that circuit. An overload of electricity can occur from too many appliances running at once or a short circuit.
There are two main types of standard breakers:
- Single Pole – These are single switches which supply 120 volts of power to all circuits within the home. Devices controlled by these breakers are light fixtures and ordinary plug-in outlets.
- Double Pole – Double pole switches supply around 240 volts of power within a household. This supply of power controls heavy appliances such as clothes dryers and whole-house central air conditioning.
Other types of breakers, such as Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI), provide special purposes like additional safety protection from fire and electrocution.
In case of an emergency, the breaker box allows you to shut off the electricity to your entire home by flipping the service disconnect. The service disconnect is the biggest breaker in the box and is sometimes referred to as the “electrical main.” This is where the power from the electric company flows into the box, starting from the main circuit before flowing through the rest.
Many breaker boxes have empty slots for additional circuits to be added as needed by a licensed electrician. New circuits run electricity to new appliances in your home or a room such as the garage or basement if required.
The Lifespan of a Circuit Breaker
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates the life expectancy of a circuit breaker to be around 30 to 40 years, and it’s the same for the GFCI, AFCI, and standard breakers. Because a breaker is a mechanical device, humid conditions or corrosive atmospheres will shorten the life span. On the other hand, a dry, indoor location with moderate temperatures will extend its lifespan. Another way to extend the lifespan of a breaker box is to “exercise” it once a year by flipping each breaker on and off three times.
Breaker boxes provide power for your comfort and convenience. Maintenance and constant attention ensures the breaker box runs efficiently. At White’s Electrical, we are a team of highly trained electricians who can answer any questions and service all residential or commercial project. Contact us today to set up an appointment to have your home powered efficiently today.