What are Electrical Panels and Electrical Boxes?

Electrical Supply Category: Distribution Equipt – Panelboards & Switchboards
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What is an Electrical Panel?

Commercial Electrical Panel

Commercial Electrical Panel

An electrical panel is the point in an electrical distribution system where current fed from the utility through the meter is then divided into either branch circuits, or feeders to other panels. It is considered part of the service entrance, and is where circuit-protective devices are located.

Electrical panels are known by a number of names, including: electrical box, panelboard, loadcenter, breaker panel, service panel, breakerbox, main distribution panel, switchboard, or in older applications – a fuse box.

Types of Panels

  • Main breaker panels
  • Main lug panels
  • Sub-panels
  • Transfer Switches

What Electrical Panel Should I Choose?

Choosing a new electrical panel can be daunting, and is best done by a licensed electrician. Here are common questions you should answers prior to purchasing:

  • How many amps should the panel be rated for?
    • Is this a main lug, or main circuit breaker panel?
  • Is the panel being installed indoors or outdoors?
    • (Or what NEMA rating it needs to be: N1, N3R, N4, etc.)
    • Is it being surface mounted to the wall, or flush mounted?
  • How many spaces / circuits are needed in the panel?
  • What type electrical service is being run to the building?
    • Single phase, three phase WYE, three phase Delta?
    • What is the system voltage?
  • What AIC rating will the panel need?
    • The standard 10k for most residential applications, or higher?

Advantage of Upgrading Your Electrical Service Box

Square D Electrical Panel

Square D Electrical Panel

There is a signification advantage to upgrading your electrical box when it is necessary to expand your home or business which requires rewiring or additional wiring.  With the additional circuits installed you can prevent a circuit overload due to the addition of equipment or appliances.  The new added loads on an existing circuit could cause the circuit to trip.

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Electrical Panels & Switchboards