An Electrical Panel Serves As the Power Source in Your Home

An electrical panel serves as the power source for all outlets, lights, and appliances in your home or building. It also contains either circuit breakers or fuses.

The main breaker panel connects to your local power provider, and the subpanels allow you to switch off the electricity in certain areas of your home. They are usually located in out-of-the-way spaces such as basements, storage rooms, and garages.

Distribution of electricity

The electricity to run your home or office starts at a power plant. It then travels through a complex system, sometimes called the grid, to your local distribution center or service drop. It passes through those tall towers that disturb many a homeowner’s views, and then through a transformer at your local substation. The voltage of this power then steps down to 120V or 240V. Then it reaches your power meter and finally enters the panel through the service wires.

The electrical panel distributes the current into different areas of your property through switches (breakers). A breaker will specify how much power it can handle and will switch off the electricity when the current becomes too high. This is to ensure that the wires, devices and appliances do not get too hot. The fuses and breakers also prevent electricity surges from entering or exiting the wrong circuit.

Most residential homes have main breaker panels that contain all the primary circuits for the house. If you have a newer house, it may be equipped with a subpanel for each major area such as kitchen or basement. Older houses will typically have a single main breaker for the entire house that serves all of its electrical needs.

Generally, the electrical panel looks like a large control box with light gray metal. There are usually single breaker switches in two columns, with odd numbers down the left and evens down the right. Each breaker is rated with the maximum amps that it can handle. If you notice a breaker continually tripping, it is time to upgrade the wiring in that area.

The main breaker will have a master power switch that controls the entire system and shuts off the flow of electricity throughout your house in case of an emergency. The subpanels, if you have them, act in the same way. There is also a grounding busbar that connects all of the individual grounding wires in your home and helps reduce electrical surges. Other parts of the panel include surge arresters, which are used to protect against lightning strikes and utility power surges. The breaker panel will also have terminal blocks to organize and distribute the array of wires coming in from various sources, as well as a Programmable Logic Controller, or CPU, which acts as the brains of the breaker panel.


The modern electrical panel (also known as a breaker panel or load center) performs two important functions: it carries electricity to outlets and fixtures in your home, and it prevents overloads that could cause house fires. It’s also a great way to keep track of your electrical use, which can help you lower your electricity bill.

Unlike older homes, where circuits were protected by round, screw-in fuses, most newer homes have electrical panels with individual breakers that shut off when they sense an overcurrent. Each breaker should have a label that indicates which area of your home it controls. In addition to reducing energy costs, this helps you identify which appliances are using the most power so you can change their settings to reduce their demand.

If you’re considering upgrading your electrical equipment, it’s a good idea to schedule an electric safety inspection with Hillside Expert Electrical before beginning the work. Older homes were often designed to accommodate only 100 amps of current, so adding newer, more powerful appliances can lead to a dangerous overload of the system. Additionally, the fuses and breakers in older panels may be showing signs of rust or corrosion, which can compromise their safety.

When working on an open electrical panel, you should always adhere to safety precautions and keep the panel door closed at all times. If you must leave the door open, there should be physical barriers to prevent people from entering the space, and the area should be clear of any obstructions that might prevent you from working safely.

For example, a panel should not be located near air conditioning ducts or other foreign electrical equipment. In addition, the cabinet doors should always be closed to prevent exposure to exposed wires. If a cabinet door isn’t completely closed, it should be secured with a nonconductive material to prevent electrocution.

When working on an electrical panel, it’s important to note that you should never touch a live breaker switch with your hands or bare feet. If you do, you’ll receive a painful shock or possibly be electrocuted. 


The electricity that runs your appliances arrives at your breaker panel via the power company's high-voltage wires. These run through large transformers at substations, and then smaller transformers in your neighborhood. Once the voltage is stepped down to 120 or 240 volts, it runs through your meter and into your house. The circuit breakers inside your breaker panel then distributes that electricity to the wires running through your home.

The circuit breakers in your breaker box, sometimes also called the fuse panel or the fuses box, work through switches that you can toggle on and off. The switches are much safer than the fuses in old homes, which used colored knobs that were pushed in or screwed into place. You can replace the fuses in your electrical panel with circuit breakers, but it is best to hire an electrician to do it. Older houses may have fuses, which should be replaced as soon as they're "blown."

Your electricity flows from the breaker box to your lights and appliances. This is usually a pretty clean process, but the energy it takes to operate them can add up over time. That's why it's important to have an efficient electric system. This includes reducing the number of appliances and ensuring that they're well-used, as well as using energy-efficient equipment like heat pumps.

If you have a newer breaker box, you may be able to use a device called a clamp-on meter to monitor your electrical usage. The meter can be clamped around a specific circuit in your breaker panel to display its current draw, which is typically displayed in amperage. Because you're billed for your electricity in watts, however, you will need to do some math to convert that reading to see how many watts the appliance or light is drawing.

Most homes have one main electrical panel that connects to the grid. Some homes have another panel, called a sub-panel, which serves only a single room or space in the building. For example, you would need a sub-panel in your home if you were adding a new kitchen or installing an electric vehicle charging station. A sub-panel does not increase the capacity of the main panel, but it allows you to control a specific area of the home or business.


An electrical panel is a service box that distributes electricity to different circuits in your house. It has fuses or circuit breakers to protect these circuits from over-current. The main breaker is located on the top, and it can shut off all power to your home. Usually, one of these panels feeds all the circuits in your home, but there are situations where a separate "sub-panel" serves a specific area like a new kitchen.

The electrical panel is typically located in an out-of-the-way location in your basement, utility room or garage. It is a gray metal box with a cover that is sealed to prevent water and dust from getting inside.

If you see a light on the panel flashing or a breaker tripping frequently, it is time to replace it. This indicates that it is not up to par with the current load on the system. A replacement can help prevent fires or other damage to your home.

When looking at your electrical panel, pay attention to the labeling on the single switches. Those with a "Dining Room," "Kitchen Lights" or similar designation are working fine. If you see a switch that has no label, this is not a good sign and needs to be replaced.

You should also keep an eye out for signs of overheating or rust. If you notice any of these, it is time to call Hillside Expert Electrical.

Your electrical panel is a vital part of your home's energy system. It can last a long time, but it may need to be replaced before it dies. This is because connections can loosen and operating near or over capacity can shorten its lifespan. The panel should be regularly maintained to avoid corrosion and rust.

A corroded or dirty electrical panel can cause damage to your appliances and home, so it is important to maintain it properly. This includes cleaning it frequently and de-dusting it. You should also make sure that it has adequate space for additional breakers and wiring. A newer, larger panel will allow you to add more breakers if needed and upgrade your service.

An electrical panel serves as the power source for all outlets, lights, and appliances in your home or building. It also contains either circuit breakers or fuses. The main breaker panel connects to your local power provider, and the subpanels allow you to switch off the electricity in certain areas of your home. They are…