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Your Santa Rosa home’s electrical panel is the main distribution point for electrical circuits and, depending on the rating of the panel, can provides up to 200 amps of power. The power that comes into your home from the utility company’s lines first flows through an electrical meter that records your electricity usage and then continues into the panel.

Electrical panels help deliver comfort and convenience throughout the home. If your home’s panel is struggling to meet the demands of all the electrical devices and appliances you use, it may be time for an electrical panel upgrade.

Here are the most frequently asked questions we hear about electrical panel upgrades in Santa Rosa. We’re assuming for this post that you have a breaker panel, not a fuse box. If your home still has a fuse box, it’s definitely time for an upgrade!

Smiling Electrician wearing white safety hat and yellow gloves while inspecting a electrical panel

What’s inside my electrical panel?

A circuit breaker panel has 4 important components that ensure electrical power flows consistently into your home:

  1. Near the top of the panel are two large terminals called lugs that are always energized unless your utility company turns off the power. These lugs and all the panel box wire connections are covered by what’s known as the “dead front cover.” This is what you see when you first open the breaker panel door. Do not remove the dead front cover unless you know what you’re doing!
  2. The main breaker is usually located above the rows of individual breakers and controls the power to all of them. If you want to turn off all circuits in the home at once, simply switch off the main breaker. Keep in mind, the panel is still energized so it is not safe to go poking around inside!
  3. Branch circuit breakers include 15-amp ones that feed regular lighting and outlet circuits and 20-amp versions that feed outlets in the kitchen, garage, and some appliances. Larger 30, 40, and/or 50-amp circuits supply 240-volt appliances like clothes dryers and electric ranges and ovens.
  4. The rows of branch circuit breakers are mounted on hot bus bars that get their power through the main breaker. Neutral bus and grounding bars are also present.

What is standard breaker panel sizing?

Modern standard circuit breaker panels have a 200-amp capacity. Many older homes in the Santa Rosa area have 100-amp panels. These 100-amp panels may be sufficient for many families, but homes that have an old 60-amp panel (usually fuses) could be hard-pressed to meet today’s electrical needs. It’s important to know that a larger panel itself doesn’t use more electricity, it just gives you the ability to add enough circuits and electrical capacity so your home’s needs can be met.

When should I upgrade my home’s electrical panel?

If your home is older, you invest in new major appliances like a refrigerator, new HVAC system, or hot tub that require a 240V circuit, it’s a good idea to upgrade the panel. If you use a lot of electrical devices and/or have a home entertainment system, an upgrade is probably called for. Upgrading to 200 amps can also prevent recurring power surges. And upgrading a panel may reduce your homeowner’s insurance due to the increased safety factor.

How should I upgrade my panel?

Hire an expert, licensed electrician today! For the best in electrical panel upgrades in Santa Rosa, no one does it better than Spyrka Electric. To learn more about our 25-plus years of experience in electrical panel upgrades, or to schedule an appointment, contact us by phone, email, or online today.

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