It’s common for each home to have two breaker panels, one where the electricity comes to the house from the electric company, usually near a meter outside and one usually in the garage or utility room that controls the electricity in the house. Circuit breakers control different parts of your home, your kitchen may be on one circuit breaker while the master bedroom is on another. These circuit breakers are designed to trip when there is an electrical short or over-current to protect the wiring.
Replacing a panel
There are two panel brands out there that are bad for your home. They are Federal Pacific and Zinsco/Sylvania. Their breakers tend to not trip when they’re supposed to, putting your home’s wiring in danger. It’s a good idea to change these panels out.
Upgrading a panel
Anytime a main panel is replaced, we are required to bring the main service up to modern code. This means that if the mast head is too low, it will need to be raised. If the meter can isn’t the proper type, it will need to be replaced. If you don’t have a proper ground system, it will also have to be installed. To find out more about the permitting process, click one of the buttons below.
Grounding a panel
A proper ground system involves one or two ground rods and a cold water bond. The ground rods go into the ground outside near your main panel. The water bond can be attached to a water pipe anywhere on the water pipe system. It is fairly common to see the gas pipe bonded as well, but this is for lightening protection and isn’t a requirement.
Types of breakers
Single pole breakers are 120 volt with various amp ratings, usually used for outlets and lighting. Double pole circuit breakers provide 240 volts with various amp ratings usually used for air conditioners, electric dryers, electric stoves and car chargers. An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is designed to shut down when the circuit has been overloaded to protect us from shock, commonly found in bedrooms and living areas. Read more about Arc Fault protection here. It is extra sensitive to arcing and better protects circuits. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) are also designed to shut down to protect us from shock, but these are typically found in wet areas like outdoors, bathrooms, garages and kitchens. They too will shut down when the circuit is overloaded.
Labeling a Panel
Labeling a panel is absolutely something homeonwers can do easily and one day you’ll be glad you took the time to do it. Our recommendation is to plug a radio into an outlet and turn the breakers off until you find which one turned the radio off. It’s an easy way to recognize which breaker goes to which area without having to run back and forth.
Have a panel or breaker question?
Copyright © Grayzer Electric. All rights reserved.
Regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, P.O. Box 12157 Austin, Tx 78711, 1-800-803-9202, 512-463-6599; website: www.license.state.tx.us/complains
Your trusted, licensed Austin Electrician
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am - 5 pm