Electrical Panel and Service Changes in New Milford, NJ
Gladiator Electric offers electrical panel and service changes in New Milford, NJ. Call 201-381-6942 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Understanding Your Electrical Panel
Every modern building has a main electrical panel (sometimes called a breaker box) where primary service (typically, though not always, from the city or county grid) comes into the building and is distributed to branch circuits throughout the building. Branch circuit requirements start at 15 amps and go up from there, depending on which items are on that particular circuit. Some buildings also have subpanels, which are extra breaker boxes designed to power large areas such as a garage or a major home addition.
Electrical panels have come a long way. Pre-1950, homes typically had 30 amp panels (the amount of power available in very small RVs today) that could not accommodate 240-volt service for large appliances such as clothes dryers. They used plug fuses and a knife switch that could cut power to the entire home.
From 1950 through the mid-1960s, 60 amp panels were the norm. They featured four plug fuses for branch circuits, along with one 30 amp fuse for a 240-volt appliance and one 60 amp main disconnect fuse.
In the mid-1960s, circuit breakers became the norm. Now, rather than replacing a fuse, you simply need to flip a switch if a circuit is blown. There is one breaker for the main service to the house, and two rows of breakers for branch circuits. The minimum required by code is 100 amp service, but 200 amps are increasingly common.
Upgrading Your Electrical Panel
If you have an older home, the electrical panel may not have been upgraded in some time. You might still have fuses, even if you have 100 amp service, as some older fuse boxes were upgraded to 100 amps without switching to circuit breakers. Even if you have circuit breakers, there may be no more room to add breakers for new branch circuits, or the panel may simply have worn out. Upgrading your electrical panel ensures that you have modern, up to date equipment with enough room for new branch circuits.
Upgrading Your Electrical Service
As mentioned above, 100 amp service was the norm beginning in the 1960s. Today’s homes, though, are filled with devices and appliances that were not even conceived of then. Many older homes simply cannot keep up with the demand on electrical service. Upgrading your service to 200 amps ensures that you have plenty of power for all your electrical needs. In addition to upgrading your panel, we will also upgrade the meter socket and all the main wiring around the meter and the panel.
A Note on Fuse Panels
Many insurance companies have stopped insuring homes with fuse panels. The reason is human error. Fuses are rated for the wire they protect. Standard home lights and outlets use 14 gauge wire, which is rated for a maximum of 15 amps. When too many devices are plugged into the same circuit, the power draw is too great and the circuit trips. With a circuit breaker, you have no choice but to unplug something and reset the switch.
With a fuse, though, there is nothing stopping you from screwing in a higher-rated fuse. A 30 amp fuse won’t blow if you’re overloading a 15 amp wire. Without the protection of a 15 amp fuse, though, the wire will continue to overheat. Running through wood studs in your walls, the overheated wire becomes a fire hazard that can burn your home to the ground.
Used responsibly, with every fuse matched to the wire it is protecting, a fuse box is not an inherent hazard. However, the ability to override the safety mechanism of fuses makes it too great a risk for many insurance companies. Besides, a fuse box is far less convenient than a circuit breaker, as you must continually buy and replace fuses, and the maximum service you will ever get (if you are lucky enough to find a fuse panel that was converted) is 100 amps. It is far safer and simpler to convert to a 200 amp circuit breaker panel.
Please note that local jurisdictions take electricity very seriously. Never try to upgrade your own panel or service. Leave it to the professionals, who understand code and when an inspection is needed, and will work hard to ensure your safety and that of your family.
Call 201-381-6942 for more information or to schedule an appointment.