An electrical panel is also called a load center. It is a metal electrical service box that accepts the main power to the home and distributes electrical current to the various circuits within the home.
The distribution of power to the various circuits are protected from over-current by the use of circuit breakers or fuses.
Once you open the door to the panel you can access all the circuit breakers or fuses. Usually one of these panels feeds all the circuits in the home but there may be a situation where there is another "sub-panel" serving a dedicated area like a new kitchen.
You will find the circuit breakers stacked in the panel and controlled with a lever that places it in the "On" or "Off" position. You will also see a double pole circuit breaker at the top of the panel called the "Main". That breaker controls all the power to panel in the circuit breakers. The main breaker is used to power all the circuits on or off at one time. At the main circuit breaker you can also see the amperage capacity of the electrical panel. The main breaker will have a number on it identifying its ampere capacity, for example, "100" or "150". Today, 100 amp service is the minimum allowed by code in residential construction so 150 amp is very common. Electrical panels also come in 200 amp and 400 amp configurations.
Identifying a Circuit
To identify a circuit you should find stickers placed next to each breaker or a sheet adhered to the inside of the panel door that identifies the circuit served by a particular fuse or circuit breaker.
Knowing where your electrical panel is located how to reset a tripped circuit breaker are basic things to know in your home and are easily learned with these tutorials.
Also Known As: Load Center, Service Panel, Breaker Panel, Fuse Box