Circuit Breaker Panel

Circuit Breaker Panel

Electricity reaching our homes is used for a wide variety of purposes. In a modern home, there are many devices which work on electricity and each has a substantial power requirement. A circuit breaker panel is one which distributes the incoming supply to various electric circuits as per their requirements. The following article provides information about how a circuit breaker works and what are its types.
HomeQuicks Staff
Circuit Breaker Panel
The power supplied to your place passes through the electrical meter into the supply system, finally reaching the breaker panel. Here it is divided into sub-supply systems, each having its own fuse, for a stable and safe supply. It is also known as the circuit breaker panel. This panel forms a distribution network and controls the power requirement of each component of that network. This panel is also called breaker panel, fuse box, fuse board, power breaker, consumer unit, or distribution board.

The Working of a Circuit Breaker Panel

This panel supplies around 200 amps power to a house. The arrangement usually consists of two columns of switches, in the North American supply system. Each breaker switch corresponds to the supply of electricity to a particular section of the house. This switch arrangement, clubbed together in a specific location, is controlled by a main circuit breaker. If power supply to the main breaker is broken, it will cut off the supply to each of these components, which ultimately means a power cut off for the entire house. Normal requirement to run the devices in a house is at least 100 amps, which is also the minimum needed electricity for every house. If the supply falls below this level, the devices may not be able to operate. Ideally, households using large number of devices should have a supply arrangement through 200 amps circuit breaker panels.

Each circuit breaker panel is connected to a group of components, for example, say each panel supplies power to one room of the house. In case, there is an accidental overload for some reason, the corresponding switch on the breaker panel trips, cutting off the supply to that part of the house, ensuring electrical safety. The supply to other rooms, meanwhile continues unhindered. Thus, the problem is segregated or limited to a certain section and does not affect supply to the other parts. If you decide to clean up the house, one room at a time, it may be preferable to switch off the power to that particular room by simply turning off the supply, through the breaker for that room. The rest of the house power supply remains unaffected. Thus, these panels provides security, as well as ease of use for various components.

The arrangement can be suitably integrated in the system, according to the need of electric supply in each branch. All devices available in the market have a number rating on them. According to the power consumption of these devices, the breaker panel can be divided to provide the required supply. The electric supply can be determined, by adding up the number rating of each device to be placed in a section, and modeling the panel to provide the supply. This can be done with the assistance of a licensed electrician.

Types of Circuit Breaker Panels

There are different types of circuit breakers in use, depending on the voltage requirements of a facility. A common way of classifying the same can be as follows.
  • Single pole breakers: They supply 120 volts with a 15 to 20 amp rating, and are used for most of the home appliances.
  • Double pole breakers: These breakers have a 15 to 50 amp rating, and supply 240 volts of electricity.
  • Ground fault circuit interruption breakers: These are normally installed for high risk areas, like bathrooms, where chances of a shock or supply fault are higher. They protect an entire circuit operation and switch off supply in 25 milliseconds on detection of a fault.
  • Portable breakers: There are portable or mobile circuit breaker panels to facilitate some emergency or temporary uses.
These panels, thus ensure that the electricity needs are properly met with proper safety arrangements. The systematic application and ease of use make it one of the most crucial parts of a modern electrical setup.