Electrical Lingo for Homeowners, Vol. 1: Breakers, Fuses, & Panels
Whether you’re planning a major home improvement project or just trying to make sense of your electric bill, understanding the lingo of electrical components is essential. This blog will discuss three common electrical terms: breakers, fuses, and panels. Read on for a quick rundown of these fundamentals!
What Is A Breaker?
Breakers are switches located in your main electrical panel that protect your home from surges in power. These safety devices detect when too much current is running through a circuit and automatically shut off the flow of electricity. When this happens, you must reset the breaker by turning it back on.
If you have multiple circuits in one panel, each circuit will have its breaker to protect it against overloads. If your home was built after 1960, chances are you have circuit breakers instead of fuses.
What Is A Fuse?
Unlike breakers that can be easily reset once they trip due to an overload, fuses must be replaced if damaged or blown out. When too much current passes through the fuse wire, it melts and stops all power from going through that branch circuit. Fuses are typically found in older homes where the original electrical system still needs to be upgraded; modern homes typically use breakers instead of fuses for their protection needs.
What Is A Panel?
Your main electrical panel controls all the electricity flowing in and out of your home. It’s usually located near the outside meter and contains multiple breakers or fuses (depending on whether your house has a breaker or fuse box). Each circuit within this panel connects directly to a specific area of the house—for example, one circuit might control outlets in the master bedroom. At the same time, another might provide power to outlets throughout the kitchen and living room area.