Main Electrical Panel, Subpanels and Circuit Breakers in Home Wiring

Main Electrical Panel, Subpanels and Circuit Breakers in Home Wiring : Home Electrical Panel

Main electrical panel, subpanels, circuit breakers, fuse, receptacles and electrical meter are all components of a home electrical wiring system. Once electricity enters your home through the meter, it is distributed to the house via the main electrical panel, subpanels and circuit breakers or fuse. Here is explanation on how electricity is branched to the house and all the electrical appliances, lights, receptacles, appliances through electrical wiring.

What is Main Electrical Panel and Subpanel?

The main electrical panel is mounted just beside the electric meter. It receives the 3 electrical wires (2 Hot and 1 Neutral) and routes electricity to the subpanels through the home electrical wiring. The main panel also includes device (Often circuit breaker) to disconnect power supply to the house in case of emergency.

What is a Circuit Breaker?

A circuit breaker is basically a switch that may be shut off manually or may get tripped automatically by any failure in the home electrical wiring system (short circuit). Breakers often get tripped because of short circuit or overload. An electrical fuse is an alternative to circuit breaker.

What is Amperage of a Breaker?

Maximum amperage delivered by a service panel at one time is marked on the main breaker. A 100-amp main is good enough for all electrical need for most homes; however, 15-amp and 200-amp are also installed in many homes. These can handle plenty of capacity. 60-amp or less is not recommended.

Circuit breakers are rated for the type of wire and load required by its circuit. For most home lighting and receptacle circuits, 15-amp and 20-amp is good. Larger-capacity circuit breakers are used for higher wattage home appliances or appliances that need 220v outlet such as air conditioner, electric ovens, electric water heaters, electric clothes dryers etc. These large breakers are often connected to secondary panels (subpanels) that have their own set of circuit breakers. These subpanels may be mounted away from the main panel.

Note that supply of electricity and electrical wiring may differ geographically. Different countries in the world have different norms and rules. For example, in Europe, there are two types of power supply: single phase and three phase. Also it is not necessary for each socket to have electrical grounding. In the UK, each socket has two wires – one live and one neutral and an earth.

Again it is different in the US and Japan. Voltages and amps requirements to install and maintain electrical installations may differ geographically. Please check your local codes for help.


All circuits in a house should have electrical grounding for safety. Receptacles in kitchen, bathroom, and outdoor receptacles need to be properly grounded under the norms of GFCI – Circuit breaker and receptacle-type GFCIs may be installed in your home by a qualified electrician. Receptacle type GFCIs may be installed by knowledgeable consumers familiar with electrical wiring practices who also follow the instructions accompanying the device. When in doubt about the proper procedure, contact a qualified electrician. Do not attempt to install it yourself. This is because these areas are more prone to moisture and there need for more safety and precaution.

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