Panelboards – What You Need To Know

Panelboards (also known as: fuse boxes, electrical panels, distribution boards, etc.) are in their most basic sense, the connection point between your supply of electricity and the things the electricity will power.

You power supply will be separate into circuits which usually divide into the different areas of a building that are being powered, or with regards to specific electrical components that need power. panelboards come in a variety of different styles and arrangements with changes being based on countries and specific manufacturers.

In the United States, there is largely a consensus with regards to the general arrangement of panelboards and the traditional vertical double-row of circuits is the most common.

In the past, circuits would have had contained fuses (hence why they are still called fuse boxes in certain situations). Nowadays, instead of using fuses, mini circuit breakers are implemented for the same purpose. What these do, it make sure the damage to one circuit does not affect the rest of the electrical system. This is done by circuits be ‘shut off’ and in so doing the electrical charge is halted.

Some older panelboards may still contain fuses, however, and in any case the vast array of differences usually mean that an electrician is preferable. This is particularly the case in the installation or modification of a panel board, but also extends in other cases to general maintenance.

Most panelboards will contain a user manual, a set of attached instructions with diagrams, and warning labels with regards to particular hazardous components. As panelboards are usually built in such a way as to remove any possible direct contact with electricity, they are on the whole safe to operate on a superficial level. That having been said, however, some models do have certain live elements and therefore extreme caution should always be taken.

A main source of attention is often focused around the maintenance of panelboards and with regards to this there are several noteworthy pieces of advice. The first and foremost is that parts are not always interchangeable. In fact, even when components seem the same and would in theory fit into a your own system, they may not be suitable. This is because there are variations, sometimes considerable ones, in the way components are made by varying manufacturers. Although some degree of standardization has begun to occur, you should not take the interchanging of components for granted.

When installing your own panel board there are also several other considerations to keep in mind, one of these being its location within the building. If placed outside, stricter safety components may be required than for indoor use. Normally, although usually place in out-of–the-way locations, panelboards should still always be easily accessible.

No matter what your electrical system is like, some similar rules always apply. The first is to take nothing for granted, electrical systems come in all shapes and sizes and not everything is always what it seems at first glance. Lastly, always make sure you consult an electrician when you are unsure on how to fix any problem.