Different types of electrical panels in Lake Tahoe.

Electrical panels are some of the most important parts of modern architecture. Whether we’re talking about residential or commercial properties, this is one of the main lines of defense against electrical fires, and it allows the structure’s electricity to be manipulated to make repairs, prevent an accident, etc.

However, you’re probably not too familiar with electrical panels and how they work beyond flipping a breaker every once in a while. That’s normal. A reliable electrical panel usually isn’t messed with much.

Since this is such an important part of a home, we’re going to go over the types of electrical panel options available and give you a better understanding of what you’re dealing with, what you might want to consider when having one replaced, and how each type impacts your property.

1: Main Breaker Panel

If you’re a homeowner or small business owner, this is probably the only electrical panel you’ll ever need to deal with. This is the core of most small-scale electrical systems. Almost every Truckee home has one.

This type of electrical panel opens up to reveal a main disconnect switch. This is where all the electricity from your municipality’s utility lines connects to your home, and if it’s flipped, all the power turns on and off.

Each room of your home, and sometimes high-electricity-usage items such as washing machines and large power equipment, has a circuit breaker on the panel that connects to the main power via busbars. Each breaker’s purpose is to detect sudden surges and other electrical issues, and then it pops when something goes wrong. This makes it so a sudden power surge doesn’t cause a fire, but it also doesn’t turn off all your home’s electricity over an isolated issue. Just the breaker for whatever part of the home was experiencing problems.

2: Main Lug Panel

In terms of a main lug panel’s purpose and general function, this is the same as a main circuit panel. There are minor technical differences such as the layout and various “under the hood” features, but for untrained property owners, you just need to know that the main disconnect is typically on the outside meter instead of the panel itself, and you might have to reset circuits slightly differently if there’s an issue.

Main circuit panels are more common in modern homes, but these are often used on larger properties instead of subpanels when slightly more complicated electrical systems are needed.

3: Subpanel

A subpanel isn’t something most homeowners will have to deal with, but if you own a large home or a commercial building, you’ll likely find multiple subpanels.

These aren’t like the previous two types of electric panel options we’ve talked about. They’re not connected to the electrical meter provided by your municipality. Instead, they’re offshoots of the main circuit panel.

These are used to control an area’s electrical circuits, and there isn’t a main disconnect switch for you to turn off everything. Only the circuits connected to a specific subpanel can be messed with.

These are almost always lug systems that are nearly identical to the main lug panel we talked about previously, and they work the same way.

4: Transfer Switches

This is a type of electrical panel only certain property owners will have. It’s not connected to the municipality’s electrical supply at all, and most of the time, it doesn’t do anything.

This is solely designed to trigger a backup power system in the event your main power fails. They are especially common in the Lake Tahoe area.

For example, if you have a generator that you need to use in emergencies, it can be wired to the home, and when a power outage occurs, the transfer switch will switch the power source from the electric meter to your generator.

These are used in businesses that must maintain power such as hospitals and nursing homes, and homeowners who rely on power for medical reasons or simply don’t like to go without electricity until the power company does something about it. They’re not standard in all homes, though.

There are two main types of transfer switches. Manual options require you to manually switch the power over to your backup option after a power outage, and automatic options detect outages before switching the power automatically.

Discovering types of electrical panels in Truckee.

When Should You Use Your Electrical Panel?

Typically, electrical professionals won’t encourage anyone who isn’t professionally qualified to touch anything electrical. After all, it’s extremely dangerous, and even if you don’t get hurt, it’s fairly easy to create fire hazards or do something improperly. Find yourself a Truckee electrician who will make this process easier for you.

However, there are several instances where a business owner or homeowner is perfectly qualified to work with an electric panel.

The most common instance is when a circuit breaks. When you find out the electricity has stopped working in a room, it’s almost always a tripped breaker. You simply open up the electric panel, find the switch that has tripped, and flip it back into the on position. Most of the time, that’s all that needs to be done.

However, you might also need to turn the power off for a few situations.

If there’s a faulty outlet and you’re waiting for a repairman to fix it, disconnecting power to the room it’s in can keep you and your family safe until repairs are made. You might also need to turn it off to safely install different appliances or if you’re going to be leaving your home for an extended amount of time.

Keep in mind that anything you do with your electric panel mostly boils down to flipping switches or replacing blown fuses if it’s a model designed to be replaced by the owner. Making repairs, replacing the electric panel, or installing other panels is something that needs to be left to a professional electrician.

Get All-in-One Electrical Services from A Plus Electrical in the Lake Tahoe Area

If you’re looking to get an electric panel replaced, installed into a new property, or need your electrical system repaired in the Lake Tahoe area, A Plus Electrical is here to help. Our team works with all types of electric panels and systems, and we can get your power up and running in no time. 

Contact A Plus Electrical today. 

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