As the heart of your home's electrical system, understanding the electrical panel size you need and how it works is crucial to any major home renovation or electrical project. The correct sizing of your electrical panel ensures that your system operates smoothly and that you have enough power and also ensures your system's overall safety.
In this blog post, we will discuss what an electrical panel does, how they are sized for the average residential home and how to determine what size you need if you are renovating your electrical system, remodeling your home or working on a new build home. Let’s dive in!
What Does an Electrical Panel Do?
An electrical panel distributes electricity from the main power line into individual circuits throughout your house. It regulates the amount of electricity running through each circuit and helps prevent overloads by tripping breakers when too much current runs through them. Put simply, an electrical panel serves as a central hub for all the wiring systems in your home.
When it comes to safety, your electrical panel acts as a firewall that protects against voltage fluctuations and sudden power surges, ensuring your electrical wiring and appliances are safe. Furthermore, an electrical panel allows you to easily switch off certain circuits or the entire system in case of an emergency, allowing you to control the flow of electricity. For example, if you experience flooding, you can quickly turn off power to that area of your home (or your whole home, if necessary) to protect yourself, your family and others from dangerous electrical shocks.
When correctly installed by a qualified electrician, an electrical panel provides ultimate protection against power surges and helps maintain a stable current through your appliances during fluctuations in your grid’s voltage level. This ensures that your electrical devices feel no ill effects from volatile changes in electricity supply and run smoothly for years to come.
How Are Electrical Panels Sized?
The size of an electrical panel depends on several factors, including the number of circuits in a given space and the amperage required by those circuits. For most residential homes, a 200-amp service panel is more than adequate and most homes have electrical service panels between 100 and 200 amps. There are some situations where you might require more than 200 amps, usually due to larger home sizes (over 3,000 square feet) and increased electrical demands from air conditioners and other major appliances.
To avoid overloading your system with too much electricity or insufficient power to meet your needs, it is essential to know how much energy your home requires before purchasing a service panel for installation. It can be difficult for the average homeowner to assess how much power they need, so we always recommend calling one of our master electricians at Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar for guidance.
When to Consider a Service Panel Upgrade
If you are remodeling or building a new structure, upgrading or replacing existing wiring or fixtures or just want to make sure that everything in your home is up-to-date with modern standards, you should schedule an electrical inspection with Valley. Our electricians are San Jose's go-to experts when it comes to determining the service panel type and size for residential properties.
If you are planning any of the following projects, it is a good idea to have your service panel assessed:
- Adding new large appliances or electronics
- Installing or upgrading to new GFCI outlets throughout your home
- Completing a major remodel, such as a kitchen, bathroom, home theater
- Building a new home addition or a new building on your property
- Converting a garage or outbuilding to an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or guest house
Another sign that you may need to have your service panel assessed is if you have consistent electrical issues such as flickering lights or frequently tripping breakers when multiple electronic devices are activated. Other signs that your electrical service isn't adequate include: inconsistent power, outlets that are warm to the touch, buzzing sounds, dimming lights. Finally, if your home was built before 1950 and you need clarification on its electrical upgrade history, it is worth scheduling an inspection, especially if you're having issues.
Always Work with Professionals; Avoid DIY Electrical Panel Projects
When considering upgrading or replacing existing wiring or fixtures in your home—especially when dealing with something as essential as an electric panel—it is vital that you work with experienced professionals like ours at Valley. Our electricians can evaluate the situation accurately and safely perform any necessary installations, upgrades and repairs. Doing so not only guarantees quality results, it also provides peace of mind knowing that all safety protocols were followed during every step of the process.
Do you have questions about your electrical system or want to schedule an inspection? Give Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar a call at (408) 868-5500. We are always here to help and we always put our customer's needs and safety first.