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What is the Purpose of an Electrical Sub-panel?

What is the Purpose of an Electrical Sub-panel?

Do you remember when you were a kid, and your dad or mum would occasionally open a large door set up high in the wall, exposing an array of switches of which one or two would be in a different position? They’d carefully reach up and flip the anomalous switch back into position in line with the rest, whilst telling you that this is a dangerous place in the house and to never open the door alone.

This is the electrical subpanel or electrical wall panel in any building with an electrical system. Yes, it’s dangerous. But not to worry, we at EVSOL Energy are experts at handling all things electrical and we know how the electrical subpanel works like the back of our hands. We know how to handle it, how to upgrade it, how to maintain it and how to keep it working hard towards maintain the safety of your home or office. If you’re facing any issues with the electrical subpanel in your building, give us a call. In the meantime, if you’re curious as to what the purpose of this thing is, and how it works, read on. Just don’t go poking and prodding around at it. At most, your dealings with the electrical subpanel should extend to re-setting a tripped breaker only. Under no circumstances should you remove the surround or covers, thus exposing the myriad of live or ‘hot’ wires. Oh, and it does without saying, if a breaker trips whilst you’re having a shower, dry your hands and body before going to reset it.

A Myriad of Circuits

Your home or office is an electrical marvel. You flip a switch and lighting bursts forth into action. You can plug a myriad of devices including phone chargers, computers, TVs, home theatre systems and novelty items into outlets scattered around the various rooms and they all work. Your refrigerator, electric cooker, washing machine, dryer, dish washer, vacuum cleaner, electric garage gate and HVAC units all work on this marvellous force. How does it happen behind the scenes, or rather behind the walls?

Well, dear reader, there’s a myriad of circuits at work here. Without becoming too technical, each electrical circuit or outlet comprises a live or ‘hot’ wire and a neutral wire for a complete circuit. There’s also an earth wire which is there to direct any stray currents into the earth and prevent you from getting shocked in the event of a fault. Earth wires are particularly important in appliances with metal bodies because if there is a short circuit that exposes a live wire to the metal body, the earth wire directs the current harmlessly away.

All these circuits have to receive their power in a controlled manner, whilst being protected from anomalies such as faulty connected equipment, rodent attacks on the wires, water that may find its way into an electrical outlet due to a pipe leak, an accidentally damaged wire and other situations that could cause a dangerous situation for the building and its occupants. Enter the electrical subpanel or electrical wall panel.

Control Central - The Electrical Subpanel

The electrical subpanel consists of multiple breakers that protect the myriad of circuits, armed and ready to trip if an anomaly is detected. There are also GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) devices that watch out for unusual electrical pathways and trip. A practical example would be using a metal-bodied toaster that has developed a fault due to a live wire being heat damaged and contacting the metal body. The GFCI will detect this and trip the circuit so that the dangerous current doesn’t travel through your body when you touch the toaster to remove your toast, thus saving you from becoming toast.

The AFCI or Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter watches out for the telltale signs of arcing wires that can occur when wires have been damaged, such as when a rodent has been biting them. Since arcing wires are a common ignition source for many home fires, this device is very important. Other functions of an electrical subpanel may be to allow certain sections of a building to be isolated at will, as well as provide for expansion when you wish to install more electrical circuits.

Upgrading My Electrical Subpanel

Why should I upgrade my electrical subpanel, you ask? Well, dear reader, homes and office buildings that are at least twenty or more years old may need their electrical subpanels to be inspected at the very least. Whilst the lifespan of an electrical subpanel is typically taken as fifty years, our hunger for power has grown exponentially. We use an increasing number of digital devices that require more and more power.

In fact, when we install Level 2 EV Chargers at customer locations, one of our first tasks is to verify if their electrical subpanel is rated for at least 200 amperes, as older houses may have 100 ampere or even 60 ampere electrical subpanels. In today’s digital and power-hungry world, that’s simply not enough. As you add more and more load to an electrical subpanel and it becomes peak loaded and eventually overloaded, you will notice some weird things happening in your home or office. Lights may randomly flicker and dim when high-current draw devices such as HVAC systems are activated. Breakers may trip for no reason. Some outlets may not provide adequate power for their connected devices. When this starts happening, immediately call an expert such as EVSOL Energy. The time to act is NOW, as things are already turning critical when you face the above symptoms.

Talk to Us for All Your Electrical Solutions

We at EVSOL Energy are experts in all matters electrical. We know how to tame the beast. Whether it’s the installation of new electrical fixtures and circuits, upgrading your electrical subpanel or an overhaul of the entire electrical system, we can do it. Furthermore, we are specialized in value-added upgrades such as installation of Level 2 EV Chargers and rooftop solar generation systems. We provide transparent, value-based pricing and a lifetime guarantee on our labour. Give us a call and we’d be glad to be of service.

Work with EVSOL Energy

Working with EVSOL Energy means you're working with the best in the business. We are on time, on budget and on value. Our pricing structures are transparent, and we fully stand behind any quote that we provide.

We specialize in lighting installations, electrical panel upgrades, EV charger installs and solar panel upgrades. And yes, we can help you get the proper permits!

Reach out to our team at EVSOL Energy today to get started.

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