How to Choose a New Electrical Breaker Panel For Your Home

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But first, what is an electrical breaker panel?

The electrical breaker panel is a large metal box attached to the outside of your home near your electric utility meter.  It acts as the main component for the flow of electricity supplied to your home from the utility company, and every home with utility-supplied electricity has some form of one.

How it works:

As the electricity is fed to your house from the utility company, it passes through the meter, through the supply system, then through your breaker box. As the electric lines enter the box, they are then broken into subsidiary circuits that are connected to fuses. The fuses help to protect your home from overloads.

If you constantly have to flip breakers or replace fuses due to overload, first make sure to check that the breakers or fuses themselves haven’t failed (it does happen sometimes).  If it is a continual problem after repair and/or troubleshooting, your overall usage may be pulling too much load and you may have to upgrade your panel.

Choosing the right breaker panel:

Not all breaker panels are created equal. Depending on the size of your home, the amount of electricity you need per room, the number of large appliances you will be running, and any additions you may add on in the future, picking the right replacement is important.

Factors to consider:

Amperage – Determine the amperage capacity of your home. Consider this: A home with 200-amp (ampere) capacity can run multiple large appliances at the same time with no problem; whereas 100 amps or less would just barely enable you to run a hot water heater, a stove, and a hair dryer at once.  Most homes these days are built with a 125-amp minimum, depending on square footage and other factors.

Breakers – You will need to know how many circuit breakers you will require in your new panel. Base it simply on your needs. Keep in mind that a circuit breaker is designed to bear only 80% of its rated capacity (ex. A 20-amp breaker is rated to bear a 16-amp load before kicking); this is a standard safety feature to prevent potential overloads. Locate the loads for each device/appliance (usually somewhere on the device itself or in the manual), and if amps are not stated, use this math formula to help you determine what you need:

Amps = Watts ÷ Volts.

Brand – Older homes built between the 1950’s-70’s sometimes have Federal Pacific Electric, Zinsco, Bryant or Westinghouse brand panels; these brands have been discontinued and are no longer installed due to various reliability and safety issues.  If you have one of these brands and you need a replacement, it will be replaced with General Electric, Eaton, or Square-D brand.

Procedure – Replacing or upgrading a panel takes approximately a half-day, and must be coordinated with the utility company and the city.  This type of job requires an electrical building permit and must have an inspection.  The power to your home will be shut off early in the morning by your utility company, and we will do the installation.  Please prepare for about ½-day to a full day with no electrical power.  Once complete, the city inspector checks the installation to ensure it is to code and the utility company turns your power back on.

For Austin residents: Please note that due to changing ordinances with the City of Austin and Austin Energy, additional fees may be assessed by the utility company for reconnecting the power.  We will do our best to keep you informed of such changes as we receive them.

Need help determining which electrical breaker panel suits your home, and how to install it properly? Contact us by phone (512) 554-6789 or email to find out how we can help you.

 

You’ll Need an Austin Electrical Professional Before You Install a Walk-In Bathtub

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Homeowners rarely think ahead to the years when mobility will be a challenge. They might get a foretaste of those years when their elderly parents come to live with them. Thoughts take a different direction when homeowners consider chair lifts for the stairs and walk-in bathtubs for their parents. Not only must they contemplate the products, but they need to plan ahead for plumbers and electrical work professionals to install the necessary products. Let’s examine why an electrician would be necessary to install an acrylic walk-in bathtub.

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Improve Your Home Office’s Electrical System to Avoid Annoying Breaker Trips

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When a home office is first set up, it seems like everything will be perfect. Unfortunately, this feeling can be ended in a snap – the snapping sound of the room’s breaker kicking into the “off” position. This is because most rooms weren’t originally set up to meet the electrical demands of the typical home worker. Here are some of the things that are typically run in these rooms:

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Make Sure You Have the Right Circuits When Remodeling Your Kitchen

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Home improvements are a popular way for homeowners in Austin to add value and enjoyment to their homes while doing a fun and creative project. Kitchen remodels are one project where homeowners often need the help of a professional electrician to make sure all of the electrical circuits are correct, safe and reliable.

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Electrical Safety in Austin TX

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May is National Electrical Safety Month. To mark this occasion, we’re providing our readers with a checklist of ideas you can use to help protect your family and property. Whether you reside here in the Austin TX area or somewhere else, these ideas can help you.  Electricity continues to be a safe and reliable form of energy that we use virtually every minute of every to make our lives easier. But it’s easy for us to take electricity for granted, and overlook the fact that it can be dangerous in not used properly. Be sure to check out the blog for another great article, Our Safety Inspections: A Point-By-Point Explanation. Here are some things you can do to better ensure a high level of electrical safety in your home:

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Give Your Home a Yearly Electrical Checkup

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Fall is the time to give your house its annual check up before the holidays get here.  No matter how well you take care of your home, the electrical system is prone to wear and tear over time. Regularly testing and evaluating the various switches, receptacles and breakers in your home’s electrical system can prevent a dangerous situation from occurring later on.

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