What's Inside Your Home's Service Panel?
Your home's service panel is the place where the electricity entering the home is distributed throughout the home to switches, outlets, and appliances. The service panel is typically found in the garage or basement.
If your home was built before 1965, it may still use fuses. In the past, fuses were commonly used in 30 and 60 amp service panels. Today, 100- to 200-amp service panels are needed in order to handle additional loads and properly protect the system from overloading.
When a fuse is blown, it must be unscrewed and thrown away. When replacing fuses in your service panel make sure that the new fuse matches the amperage rating of the circuit.
Never replace a fuse with one that has a larger amperage rating. This can cause electrical system damage and increase the risk of a fire.
In newer homes the service panel will have circuit breakers. A circuit breaker that has “tripped” can simply be reset to reconnect power to the circuit. Its important to check the source of the tripped circuit before restting it. It is most commonly the result of too many appliances plugged into the same circuit. If the circuit trips a second time after resetting, it's probably time to have an additional circuit installed to handle the load.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)
AFCIs are newer devices that replace traditional circuit breakers in electric service panels. AFCIs provide additional protection against fire hazards known as arc faults. An arc fault is a dangerous electrical problem caused by damaged, overheated, or stressed electrical wiring or devices. Without AFCIs, arc faults may be hidden from plain view until it is too late.