Does Your Home Need a Bigger Breaker Box?

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All homes have a circuit breaker box, electrical panel, fuse box, or breaker panel. While it goes by many names, “fuse box” is technically incorrect. This article will cover what a breaker box is, where to find it, and, most importantly, why you might need a bigger one.

What is a Circuit Breaker Box?

electrical panel electrician circuit breakers

A circuit breaker box, or electrical panel, is a utility box for your electrical system that houses your circuit breakers. Circuit breakers are the safety gateways that allow electricity to flow through your circuits to particular sections of your home. When too much power tries to push through the circuit breakers, the breakers “trip” and cut the connection, keeping excess power from pushing through and damaging your property or starting fires.

Traditional circuit breaker panels provide between 100 and 200 amps of power, though modern homes often demand as much as 300 to 400 amps.

Where Do I Find My Breaker Box?

Every home is different, but the circuit breaker box is usually found in a low-traffic area of your home. This may be a garage, utility room, basement, laundry room, mud room, or closet. It looks like a flat gray or brown metal box with a swinging door, and with lots of wires connected to it.

3 Signs You Need a Bigger Circuit Breaker Panel in Your Home

The size of your home and the number of electrical devices, appliances, and needs you have will determine what size circuit breaker panel you need. HVAC systems, electric water heaters, microwave ovens, desktop computers, vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers, and more all require significant power.

Consider the following signs to know whether your home needs a bigger breaker box.

1. The Existing Box is Full

Your box is only set up to handle so many circuits at a time, and older electrical panels are often limited in how many circuits they can operate with.

For safety, best performance, and optimum service lives, ranges, wall ovens, some garbage disposals, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, HVAC systems, electric water heaters, electric clothes dryers, and potentially wet areas like both sides of the kitchen as well as bathrooms all need separate circuits with their own circuit breaker. Failure to put each appliance and location on separate circuits can result in fire hazards, internal power surges, and reduced appliance lifespans.

If you want to add an appliance to your house, but there is no more room in the electrical panel, it’s time to upgrade your panel.

2. A Burned Bus Bar

A bus bar in a circuit breaker box is a copper or copper-aluminum alloy strip that may be damaged when the power load exceeds its capacity. A power surge or a nearby lightning strike can overload the capacity.

A burned bus bar will necessitate a new electrical panel box. While the new box doesn’t have to be larger, replacing it with a larger one is usually a good idea to ensure you have the extra size and room to expand in the future. Whole-home surge protection can help protect you home from external power surges.

3. Circuits are Internally Overloaded

A circuit becomes overloaded when you attempt to draw too much electricity through it. Have you ever turned on a vacuum cleaner and had the breaker flip? Too much electricity was being drawn through that circuit at that particular moment.

Circuit breakers do occasionally flip, but that is perfectly normal. However, if you have a breaker that flips routinely, either the breaker itself has been damaged and needs to be replaced, or it has too many demands on the electricity it can provide.

When your circuits are overloaded, you can risk damage to your appliances, electrical devices, electrical system, and the circuit breakers themselves.

How Much Does It Cost to Upgrade My Electrical Panel?

The cost to update your electrical panel depends on whether you are upgrading or installing, and how many amps it is. A 100-amp panel may cost as low as $500, and a brand-new 400-amp panel can cost as much as $4,000.

electrician working on electrical panel or circuit breakers

Don’t let cost deter you from upgrading, though. Protecting your home from electrical hazards and fires is well worth the price. Many electrical companies offer financing options to help you better budget for the upgrade.

Circuit Breaker Box Upgrades & Installations in CincinnatiApollo working on electrical panel or circuit breaker box

At Apollo Home, we offer circuit breaker panel upgrade and installation services in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. We can update your electrical panel to a larger one to handle more amperage and provide your home with the power it needs.

Upgrading electrical panels is serious and dangerous work that must be performed by certified and licensed electricians. Apollo Home’s electricians are top-notch experts who can safely upgrade your box and do the job right, with each circuit breaker carefully labeled. Contact us today at (513) 540-4082 to learn more.

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