What is a Main Electrical Service and Panel?
The main panel is where the primary power source is distributed to the branch circuits throughout the house or building.
Why do you need a main panel?
An electrical system needs a main panel to break up the power supply of 100 amps or larger down to branch circuits. Branch circuit requirements start at 15 amps and can go as large as required by the specific item and voltage.
Reasons for upgrading your main electrical service and panel
Old main panels have limitations on available space to add circuits or they have fuses (some insurance carriers will not insure a property that has fuses). Some old panels have had circuits added and have maxed out (most old panels are maxed out when the original construction was completed). Many old panels are of inferior quality and simply stop working and need to be replaced.
An electric service upgrade is often recommended or required to increase the capacity of the existing electrical service. With all the new appliances and technical devices we now have in our homes, we find that older homes just don’t have sufficient power available to handle the increased demand. Therefore, a “service change” is required. This may include not only upgrading your electric panel, but upgrading your meter socket, the wire between the meter and panel, the wire between the utility and the meter and the grounding system as well. A panel upgrade or replacement is usually required to alleviate a problem with the existing panel. Sometimes a breaker might overheat to the point that the buss bar in a panel gets burned. The conductors between the meter and panel may become loose and burn out the main lugs, especially common when aluminum conductors were used. Other common reasons to change out an existing panel are due to obsolescence and outdated technology. Split-buss panels, cheap builder-grade panels, panels contaminated by water, paint and corrosive environments are often candidates for replacement.
Why Upgrade From a Fuse Panel?
Insurance companies usually get uptight when they find out the home has a fuse panel and recommend that the panel be changed to a breaker panel system. Everyone is familiar with the old screw in fuses. And for those that have a fuse panel know that if the 15 amp fuse keeps blowing you can screw in a 20 amp, 25 amp, 30 amp fuse till the fuse stops blowing.
This is where the problem lies. The fuses are rated for the wire it is protecting. Our standard lights and receptacles work off a 14 gauge wire. The wire is rated to carry a maximum of 15 amps. So when we plug in too many devices on one circuit the fuse becomes overheated and ‘blows’. By using a larger fuse we may stop the problem of the fuse blowing all the time but the wire is rated to carry only 15 amps. Now that we’re used a larger fuse the wire becomes overheated, as it is working beyond capacity. These overheated wires are running through wood studs in the walls. The potential for fire now exists.
This is why the insurance companies would like the panel changed over from fuses to breakers. They know that the home will be much safer with a new breaker panel than the old fuse panel. Our electricians have changed over many old fuse panels that were in great shape for this very reason. There is nothing wrong with the panel. It’s human error where the problem lies.
What is involved in a main panel upgrade?
Ring Electric will file all of the appropriate paperwork with ESA(Electrical & Safety Authority) and Hydro Ottawa prior to the upgrade. We will handle all required city administration and scheduling. The power will be disconnected while the work is being completed and will be restored once the job is complete. In most cases we can complete the service/panel upgrade with minimal disruption to the incoming power.
Our Services Include:
- Service Upgrades
- Meter Base Repairs
- Meter Base Replacements
- Service Mast Repairs
- New Grounding Systems
- Whole House Surge Protection Devices
- Label Household Circuits on Existing Panels
- Sub Panels