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Energy Components: The Main Panel and Breaker Boxes

How many times have you heard that when your power goes out you just need to “flip the switch in the main panel”? Likely you’ve never heard this before, since most people refer to these as “breaker boxes.” So what’s the difference?

What is a main panel?

Electrical Breaker Box

Typical Home Breaker Box (photo from The Prepper Journal – click here for more information)

Check out the picture to the right to get an idea – it’s likely something you’ve seen every single day without even really noticing it. I have many friends who vowed to hire electricians for everything when they moved into their first home, and in all honesty, this is not a terrible idea. Of course, there are a few things that you can DIY and hopefully this blog post will help you learn a little bit about how to do just that, or at least where to look as you get started.

How can we tell the difference between the main panel, and a sub panel? Take a look at the following link for a helpful explanation of the similarities and differences between the two electrical components: https://www.livewireelectricalcharlotte.com/2020/01/main-panel-vs-sub-panel-whats-the-difference/.

What is a Breaker Box?

This is another electrical component you’ve likely seen a million times before, but perhaps you never paid much attention to it before. Take a look at the photos within this post as examples – they’re often found within your garage, or laundry room, or outside of your home on the wall of the first floor – ideally somewhere that will stay dry even when it rains.

What do Breaker Boxes do? To learn more about the purpose they serve and how to read them, check out the following links:

Another good source of information I came across while doing research for this blog was familyhandyman.com – check out the following link to learn more about breaker boxes, also known as circuit boxes, and how to connect/disconnect them safely: https://www.familyhandyman.com/project/breaker-box-safety-how-to-connect-a-new-circuit/.

Please, please keep in mind that if you plan to look into these items in your home, especially if you decide to make changes or turn on/off your breaker box, that you do so safely! I would definitely recommend reading through the links provided above, as well as consulting YouTube, before attempting anything yourself, since the consequences for not doing so could be dire!

Main Panel vs. Sub Panel

Example Breaker Box (photo from LiveWire – click on the photo for more information)

The good news is that once you know what you’re looking at and what you’re looking for, you won’t have to hire a Master Electrician for every little thing in your home, and of course electrical project sizes and complexity vary greatly.

For example, almost every time there is a storm in my neighborhood, our outdoor plug trips, and the pump I use to circulate and clean the water in my pond stops working. Initially, I thought it had broken and was not looking forward to the large bill I anticipated to get it fixed. After consulting the expert however (aka my dad), he recommended that I look for the outdoor switch and simply “reset the breaker.”

I told him he had once again started speaking in a different language, and that I would have to pray for the survival of my goldfish until he returned to help me out. He laughed for a whole minute before finally explaining to me how to do this, and now, after doing adequate research and a little bit of *safe* testing, I’m the expert! Every time there is a storm and the pump stops working, I simply go into the garage and reset the switch to the outdoor plug, and my fish once again have circulating water.

Check out the following resources to see these processes for yourself:

As always, be sure to consult the professionals when needed! This week’s blog posts should really include Tim the Toolman’s “Don’t try this at home!” disclaimer, and one that should be strictly followed! However there are a few things you should also know as a home owner, that could save you hundreds of dollars in avoidable fees – just make sure you feel completely comfortable before making any changes.

There is no shame in calling an electrician, especially if you want to avoid “electrocuted himself” as the cause of death at your funeral. Just be safe, read and watch videos ahead of time, and if you don’t feel comfortable with what you’ve learned, consult the experts for help! At SUNTEX we have plenty of Electricians and contacts in the field, so reach out to us today if you have an electrical project in mind!

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