Does Your Home Need a Bigger Breaker Box?

All homes either have a fuse or circuit breaker box into which all the wiring in the home runs. The purpose of the box is to house the fuses or circuit breakers that trip when the electrical load exceeds the circuit’s capacity. The fuse will burn out or the breaker will trip to prevent electrical fires.

breaker boxOlder homes are far more likely to need larger boxes, since decades ago, far fewer appliances and devices were in use than they are today. Now it’s not uncommon for homes to have multiple refrigerators or freezers, cooking appliances, hair dryers, and other high voltage appliances in use daily.

The Existing Box Is Full

Room air conditioners, refrigerators, and freezers may plug into a standard electrical outlet, but to be safe, they should be on a dedicated circuit. They may not run continuously, but when they share a circuit breaker with other outlets and switches, that particular circuit could be overloaded. If your existing box doesn’t have room, it’s less expensive and safer to replace the box with a larger one than it is to add another box, also called a subpanel.

Converting from gas appliances to electric is another common reason for adding more circuits to an existing box. Electric dryers, stoves, central air conditioners, and water heaters require their own circuit, since they draw considerable power.

A Burned Bus Bar

A bus bar in a circuit breaker box is a strip of copper or copper-aluminum alloy that may be damaged when the power load exceeds its capacity, from a power surge, or lightning strike. In order to use that circuit again, you’ll have to replace it with a new box. While it doesn’t necessarily require a larger box, it’s usually a good idea to increase the size to ensure that you’ll have room for expansion in the future.

The licensed electricians at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing can help you determine whether you need a larger breaker box for your home. We’ve provided trusted home services for homeowners in the greater Cincinnati area since 1910.