Electrical Panel Sizing

How Do I Know What Size Electrical Panel I Need in My Home?

Updated: 02/09/2021

The size of your home’s electrical panel indicates the number of electrical appliances that can be used at the same time. If your home runs purely on electricity, you may require a much bigger electrical panel.

What is the purpose of the electrical panel?

The electrical panel is the main distribution point that supplies between 100 amps to 200 amps of power throughout the home. Your main electrical panel, which is also referred to as the circuit breaker panel, is equipped with safety features that protect your household from electrical shocks, fire damage, overloading, and so on.

What is the ideal size for your home’s electrical panel?

When people mention the ‘size’ of the electrical panel box, they are referring to the amount of electricity that it can handle. Most homes use 100- or 200-amp electrical panels.

The size of the electrical panel determines the number of electrical appliances that you can use at the same time. Computers, televisions, and stereos require little power, but electric ovens and heating systems require quite a lot. If your home generally uses a lot of electricity (i.e. you don’t use gas or oil), then you’re going to need a larger electrical panel.

How do you determine the right size for your electrical panel?

A professional electrician can help you calculate the right size for your electrical panel. The process can be complicated as it involves taking into account all of the appliances and fixtures in your home. However, you can refer to the guide below:

100-amp

A 100-amp electrical panel is enough to power a small-sized home that does not use electrical heating. 100 amps can supply power to a washer and dryer, electric range, outlets, and lighting fixtures. It is recommended for vacation cabins since its ampacity is too low for residential use.

200-amp

A 200-amp electrical panel is the industry-standard for modern homes. It’s enough to supply power to typical family homes, but it may not be able to support heavy-duty electric heating systems. 200 amps can handle a dryer, water heater, receptacles, and heating/cooling equipment. It is typically used in homes bigger than 2,000 square feet.

400-amp

Massive homes that require more than 20,000 watts should use 400-amp electrical panels. This is especially true if the home uses electric heating and cooling systems all year long. If you live in a standard-size residence, it’s unlikely that you’ll need 400 amps, but if your home utilizes hot tubs, saunas, home theaters, and other large-demand equipment, a 400-amp service will help you stop worrying about overloading your system.

Bottom Line

Having an undersized electrical panel can put you at risk of fires. If you think your electrical panel is insufficient for your home’s needs, or if your electrical panel is showing signs of damage, call a trusted electrician as soon as possible. They can determine the proper size of your electrical panel so that you don’t have to live in such dangerous conditions.

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