How Do I Tell the Size of the Main Electrical Panel I Have?

electrical panelKnowing the size of your main electrical panel informs you of how many appliances you can run. It helps to determine if your panel can supply the electrical power you need after a renovation or room expansion. It also helps you decide if an upgrade is necessary.

As a homeowner, it may seem difficult to learn anything about electricity in your home. Sometimes, it could be dangerous to go DIY on these things. This is why we are dedicated to constantly giving you the tips you need. Keep reading to learn how to tell the size of your main electrical panel.

How does it work?

The capacity of the electrical panel in your home is measured in amperes (amps). An electrical panel’s capacity can range from 30 amps to 400 amps. A 30 amps panel is common in ancient homes that have not been updated over the years. You would also find old homes with 60 amps and 100 amps. The average modern home should have a 200 amps panel. Some very large homes with many electrical appliances and power-demanding systems have up to 400 amps.

Electrical current reaches your home from the power utility to the main electrical panel where the power is distributed for home use. The main electrical panel is a wide grey metal box usually found in isolated areas like the garage, furnace room, or basement.

Steps to determine the size of your main electrical panel.

If your electrical panel is in a dark or dimly lit area, you will need a working flashlight. You start by locating the electric meter on the exterior of the house. The electric meter will be the point at which the service wires from the utility company enter the home. This can be different for everyone, but we will explain.

If you have overhead wires from the utility company, they will enter through a metallic pipe which is connected to the electric meter. When you locate the meter, you can use it to determine the size of your electrical panel. A square metal base means you may have a 100 amp panel. A rectangular metal base can indicate 150 amps panel. A round metal base could mean 60 amps. Your main electrical panel will be on the other side of the electrical meter within the home.

The main electrical panel is easy to spot because of its size and color. Take precautions to avoid a wet floor, damaged wires, or other electrical hazards. Open the electrical panel and look for the main circuit breaker. It is usually at the bottom of the panel. The main circuit breaker can be turned off to stop power from reaching the home. The size or rating of the electrical panel is indicated on this breaker.

If the size of your panel is much smaller than your electrical needs, it can be upgraded by an electrician. You can skip finding the size yourself and call on us to provide a complete service for you.