A Comprehensive Guide to Types of Electrical Panels

Types of Electrical Panels

Electrical panels, also known as distribution boards or breaker panels, are essential components of electrical systems that distribute electricity throughout a building or structure. They contain circuit breakers or fuses that protect electrical circuits from overloading and ensure the safe and efficient operation of electrical systems. Here are some common types of electrical panels:

1. Main Service Panel

The main service panel, also called the main breaker panel, is the primary electrical panel in a building. It receives electricity from the utility service and distributes it to various branch circuits throughout the building. It typically contains a main circuit breaker or disconnect switch that controls the entire electrical supply for the building.

2. Subpanel

A subpanel, also known as a subsidiary panel or secondary panel, is an additional electrical panel that is connected to the main service panel. It is used to provide power to specific areas or systems within a building, such as an addition, garage, or workshop. Subpanels are connected to the main panel through feeder cables and have their own set of circuit breakers or fuses.

3. Single-Phase Panel

Single-phase panels are commonly used in residential and small commercial settings. They provide electrical power for typical household appliances, lighting, and outlets. Single-phase panels usually have a maximum voltage of 120/240 volts and are designed to handle single-phase electrical loads.

4. Three-Phase Panel

Three-phase panels are used in larger commercial and industrial applications where higher electrical loads are required. They provide electrical power in a three-phase system, which consists of three alternating currents that are 120 degrees out of phase with each other. Three-phase panels are more efficient and provide a more balanced distribution of electrical power.

5. Fuse Box

A fuse box is an older type of electrical panel that uses fuses instead of circuit breakers. Fuses are designed to break the electrical circuit when excessive current flows through them, thus protecting the electrical system from overloads and short circuits. However, fuse boxes are less common in modern installations, as circuit breaker panels offer more convenience and safety features.

6. Combination Panel

Combination panels, also known as split-bus panels, are a combination of a main breaker panel and a subpanel in a single unit. They are designed for specific applications where separate electrical systems or services need to be installed within a building. Combination panels provide the flexibility of having multiple electrical systems in one location.

These are some of the common types of electrical panels used in various applications. The selection of the appropriate panel type depends on factors such as the size and type of the electrical system, the electrical load requirements, and the specific needs of the building or facility. It is important to consult with a qualified electrician or electrical engineer to ensure the proper design, installation, and maintenance of electrical panels.