Electrical Service Panel Basics Homeowners Should Know

- Apr 25, 2020-

Electrical Service Panel Basics Homeowners Should Know


You may know it as a metal panel located in a distant part of your home that you rarely think about it. Then perhaps the power goes out in the kitchen because you turned on the blender. Hitting the reset button on the countertop GFCL outlet doesn't fix the problem. Suddenly you need it:


What Is the Electrical Service Panel?

The electric service panel is the connection between the external wires coming from the street and the internal wires of your home's electric system. The service panel is the central distribution point that connects the service wire or service drop—the main wire coming from the outside into the house—to the exit wires that split off and service different parts of the house. These exit wires are called branch circuits  or branch wire circuits. 


In single-family residences, the owner of the building owns the electric service panel, not the electric company. Thus, the owner is responsible for all issues related to the electric service panel.


Circuit Breaker Service Panels and Fuse Boxes

Electric service panels have a number of different names: fuse box fuse, fuse panel, circuit breaker panel. Today, most homes have what is officially called the electrical service panel, or simply, the service panel. A circuit breaker panel is not exactly the same as the fuse box because it has mechanical, toggle-switch circuit breakers, not fuses, but it does perform the same function. The older fuses screw or pull in or out, as opposed to the rocker-style method of installing and removing circuit breakers.


All of your home's power is located in the service panel. The electrical service panel provides 100, 200, or more amps of power to a home. Homes built between 1950 and 1965 may have these 60-ampere fuse boxes, often with four fuses. Power comes into the house from a service drop, connects to the service lugs within the service panel, and is split into separate circuits throughout the house.