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What Are Electrical Service Panels?

What Are Electrical Service Panels?


Any electrical installation or construction must have an electrical service if it connects to a feeder or another electrical installation that itself already has a service installed. It specifically requires that a service be provided for electrical installations in a building when such installations exceed the normal limit of electric current carried per unit area and the facility also does not provide a connection to the public switched telephone network. For those facilities that are more than twenty-five years old, this requirement is applied according to the condition of the existing service structure as determined in the governing code.


In most cases, when a new installation is required, the existing service panel must be removed and the wiring in place removed. Then, all wiring, including the existing electric service panel, must be properly concealed. The reason for concealment is so that the existing electrical system's wiring does not become a safety hazard while the new electrical system is in use. The installation process, including the wiring and its location, must also be carefully considered and any changes or modifications to it had to go through the local building codes for the area in which the installation will take place.


Once the wiring and related materials are in place, a utility isolation breaker, usually a circuit breaker, is installed between the utilities and the electrical service panel. This is an important step because if there are separate utilities, there are separate circuits within the electrical system and if the electrical service panel is attached to the main circuit breaker, the new installation may actually cut off the flow of electricity to the main circuit breaker. The new installation may still need to be tested to ensure the proper functioning of all circuits in the system, but with the utility isolation breaker in place, any outages or interruptions in service due to utility problems would only be shorted by the short-circuit created by the utility isolation breaker and not by the new electrical service panel. With both the utility isolation breaker and the main circuit breaker in place, the new electrical system can be placed securely in the service location. If all goes well, the new system should be able to function normally within a few days.


In some cases, though, additional steps may be needed to prepare the electrical distribution point and the electrical service panel before beginning the installation process as shown in  this article. If the new location is further away from the original utility service panel, it may be necessary to run wiring throughout the house in order to create a connection. This extra work means additional time, but it can make the job go faster and safer, especially if the house is located in a basement, attic, or other area difficult to access for regular household wiring. Any potential connection issues should be addressed as part of the electrical installation process.



Once the wiring has been connected and any required modifications have been made, the actual electrical service panel box can be installed. Power cable and power outlets need to be carefully considered in the preparation of the box. Most homeowners might prefer to use standard, wall outlet fittings to minimize the amount of work required to install the box. However, homeowners might also want to consider using a plug-in connection, especially if they plan to install the box in an area without electricity, such as a garage. Regardless of the method chosen for installation, the installation process can take two to three days, depending on the length of the distribution line. This is the standard and will vary depending on the distance between the main power source and the distribution point, among other things.


To minimize the chances that problems will occur, the installation process should always include some type of maintenance. Most service panels require regular cleaning to improve their effectiveness. This should typically be done about once a month, with one service per month. Homeowners might also consider having an electrician perform this maintenance, if they are comfortable with doing so. Regardless of the homeowners' preferences, there are numerous benefits to using electrical service panels. They can greatly improve the efficiency of both cooling and heating systems, eliminate many electrical hazards, and increase the value of a property. See further details on this topic at https://www.britannica.com/technology/electrical-and-electronics-engineering.

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