The main function of an electrical panel is to shut off power when connections get too hot. A lot of heat runs through your electrical connections, and that heat can cause connections to fail and arcing which causes fires. There are 3 main reasons to replace or upgrade your electrical panel: age, type and increased electrical needs of your home.
Age Matters: Electrical Panels Do Not Last Forever
Electrical panels do not last forever. Heat runs through the connections all day and night, causing them to wear out over time. If your electrical panel is more than 20 years old, it could be a fire hazard that can threaten the safety of your home and family. Older panels have breakers that fail over time and will not trip as needed.
One of the most common causes of residential fires are worn out electrical panels. According to the National Fire Protection Association:
- Fires involving electrical failures or malfunctions accounted for the highest share of civilian deaths (18%) and direct property damage (20%).
- Nearly two of five fires (39%) involving electrical failure or malfunction occurred in the cold weather months from November through February.
- Arcing was the heat source in approximately three of five home fires involving an electrical failure or malfunction.
Arc flashes commonly occur in electrical panels. Arcing occurs when one of an electrical panel’s many circuits becomes overloaded and overheats. Once damaged, a circuit breaker can malfunction and continue to let electricity through, potentially causing arcing and the possibility of a fire.
Codes Change for a Reason: Get Rid of Outdated Panels
Older homes are more likely to have outdated electrical panels that are extremely unsafe and no longer meet codes for residential safety. If you own home built before 1990, you might have one of these outdated main electric panels boxes in your home. These unsafe panels include:
Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panels – FPE panels are most common in homes built between 1950 and 1980. Federal Pacific Electric will likely be written on the cover of your breaker box. Inside, look for the name Stab-Loc (the brand name of the circuit breakers). FPE electric panels’ circuit breakers fail to trip when they should, leading to thousands of fires in the United States. FPE is the only manufacturer to be forced into bankruptcy due to liability associated with home fires.
Zinsco Panels – Zinsco or GTE-Sylvania panels were popular electrical panels installed in homes throughout the 1970s. The circuit breakers inside many Zinsco panels melt to the main bus bar. This means the breaker won’t ever trip, even when there’s a short or overloaded circuit. So, if there ever is a short, or other problems, the surge of power melts wires and starts a fire in your home.
Split-Bus Electrical Panels – Split-bus breakers are divided into 2 groups with no single disconnect breaker. Because these panels have not been used for over 40 years, they are unsafe because of their age.
Fuse-Box – Screw-in Fuse boxes are old electrical panels that use fuses instead of switches. These boxes typically use too few circuits, so circuits are tripped often, causing homeowners to replace fuses with larger amped fuses, or worse yet, a metal object like a penny.
Room to Grow: Home Improvements Require Larger Electrical Panels
So you finally installed those extra outdoor outlets, a new ceiling fan in the guest room, and a freezer in the garage to store your extra food… and now you are saving up money to install that hot tub outside. Stop right there; the more appliances, outlets and fixtures you have in your home, the bigger the electrical panel you need.
Electrical panels come in different amp loads, and the more your electrical needs, the bigger the amp load you need. Plus, the more appliances, fixtures, and outlets you have, the more switches you need to hold them. If your electrical panel is full, it will get hotter and be more of a fire risk. Replace full panels with larger ones that can better handle your current load plus your home’s future electrical needs.
Don’t DIY on This One – Call us Today
While we encourage you to learn as much about your electrical system as possible, electricity is not a good candidate for a DIY project. DIY wiring is not only dangerous, it seldom meets codes and can be far more costly to repair in the future. Anthony PHCE’s licensed and trained electricians provide you with the best service, electrical solutions and advice. Call our Anthony PHCE electricians today at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y 268-4669 (913) or (816).
Imagine you are hunkered down at home during a thunderstorm, you and your family working away on your respective computers, and zap, a nearby lightning strike causes a power surge to flow through your home’s electrical wiring and ethernet cables. Computers go down, data is lost, the television stops working and your home’s smart appliances go on the blink. A whole-home surge protector could have saved you a whole lot of trouble.
Do You Need a Whole-Home Surge Protector or Are Power Strips Enough?
Most people know enough to plug their computers into high voltage surge protectors with back up batteries. But what about the computers in your TV and your smart appliances like your refrigerator and washing machine? Many new appliances come with their own computers that talk to the internet; this new technology is called internet of things (IoT). Electrical surges can damage or destroy these expensive devices. Whole-home surge protectors can protect all of the electronics and appliances in your home, including those items hard-wired into your electrical systems that cannot be protected on power strips.
What Causes Power Surges?
What are the causes of power surges? Several things can cause power surges that can damage your home’s electrical systems:
- Lightning strikes near your home
- Compressors that turn on and off in appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators
- Power surges originating from your electric utility company during power grid switching
Large increases in voltage above an appliance’s normal operating voltage can cause an arc of electrical current within the appliance, and the heat generated in the arc can damage electronic circuit boards and other electrical components.
Smaller, repeated power surges can cause damage, too, and could be the reason your TV or cordless phone mysteriously stops working. These smaller surges can cause damage slowly, so your computer or TV may continue to function until the integrity of the electronic components finally erode. This shortens the life span of appliances and electronics.
What is the Best Type of Surge Protector?
There are two types of surge protection; point-of-use and service entrance. Point-of-use surge protectors includes devices such as power strips with surge protectors that protect the devices plugged into them. Service entrance surge suppression devices, also known as whole-home surge protectors, mount on your main electrical panel or at the base of your electric meter.
Whole-home surge protectors protect all of your home electronics and all of the items on your electrical system, including lights, motors, outlets, light switches. They protect the items that are hard wired into your electrical system, like your oven and CO/smoke detectors that cannot be placed on point-of-use surge protectors. Whole-home surge protectors also provide a second tier of protection to devices on point-of-use surge protectors.
There are many types of whole-home surge protection options and depending upon your home you may need more than one. Installation of these devices is not for novices; working on high-capacity power circuits can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, and many manufacturers recommend hiring an electrician to perform the installation. Our Anthony PHCE electricians will assess the best protection for you home and install it for you, so you know it is working correctly.
Call a Qualified Anthony PHCE Electrician
Today’s homeowners possess a sizeable investment in home electronics and appliances. Whole-home surge protection is a smart investment to prevent damage to, and extend the life of, the electrical items and systems in your home. Call our Anthony PHCE electricians today at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y 268-4669 (913) or (816).