Is Your Home’s Electrical Panel the Right Size? Here’s How to Tell for Sure
Your home’s electrical panel (also called the circuit breaker panel) is essentially the “gatekeeper” of electricity that comes into your home. It is responsible for keeping you and your home completely safe and for allowing energy into all the circuits being used.
What does this mean? Well, obviously that having the right size panel is extremely important. The question is – how can you tell if your home’s panel is the right size?
Keep reading to find out.
What Does the Size of an Electrical Panel Refer To?
The first thing you need to understand is exactly what is meant when talking about the “size” of your electrical panel. This isn’t the metric measurement of the panel. It’s actually it’s amp capacity.
The amp capacity of your panel is how much current it can safely allow in your home. This is the number used to determine how much power your home can hold in all.
The amperage necessary in your home is dependent on how much energy you use. For example, a home with a single floor and modest square footage with minimalistic appliances is going to require a panel that is smaller in size than a more modern, two-level, smart home. You can figure out the size of your panel with ease, since it’s typically printed on a label that’s found on the main breaker switch, which is located at the bottom or the top of the panel.
How to Tell if Your Panel is the Proper Size?
You could do this the hard way and add up the watt values of all of the items in your home, or you could use a simpler alternative. There are some tell-tale things that are going to happen if your panel isn’t big enough. These things include:
- Lights flickering: Do your lights flicker when someone turns on a large appliance or if too many things are plugged in? However, this isn’t something that should happen all of the time, or if regular appliances are being operated. If you have to deal with flickering lights routinely, it’s probably time for you to “heavy-up.”
- Frequent breaker trips: If breakers trip, then it means too much power is being drawn from a certain circuit. It may be possible that you just need to add a few circuits to your home, but in some cases, an entire panel upgrade is necessary.
- Hot outlets: An acrid “ozone” smell, discoloration, and char around your outlets are all indications that there are serious electrical problems in your home. Chances are you are using more power than what is safe, and a bigger panel may be just what is needed.
Another time you may need to increase the size of your electrical panel is if you have renovated or added on to your home. It’s best to speak with the professionals to find out if this upgrade is necessary.