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Electrical panel with switches and wires

Here Are the Pros and Cons of Electrical Panels

Most American homeowners grew up in houses with circuit breaker technology installed, but some from the older generations may remember the switch from fuse panels with parts that needed to be replaced when they blew. In the mid-1950s, a new mechanism named “Quick-Open” was introduced to the home building market, and it paved the way for modern breaker panels.

If you could see the fuse replacement process and how often it had to be done in the old panels, you would never think that circuit breakers could present any disadvantages, but there is one that happens to be peculiar. Let us go over some of the many advantages of circuit breakers in modern electrical panels before we look at the single disadvantage.

Advantages of Circuit Breakers

First of all, the resettable mechanism is what makes circuit breakers the modern standard of residential circuits. Unlike the fuses that had to be replaced after a single overload in the past, circuit breakers can be reset by simply flipping the switch back on, which is much more convenient and cost-effective in the long run.

The response times of modern breakers are measured in milliseconds. At such reaction speeds, the potential damage to electrical wires and equipment is reduced before overheating occurs. By quickly and automatically cutting off power during overload situations, circuit breakers prevent electrical fires caused by overheating wires.

Circuit breakers can handle multiple tripping and resetting situations without wearing out as quickly as fuses did. The lifespan of electrical panels these days is about four decades; this is considerably longer than the average longevity of major appliances such as water heaters and HVAC systems. In case the electrical panel needs to be repaired before it needs to be replaced, there is a great advantage in the sense that circuit breakers are available in standard designs and ratings. This makes them easier to troubleshoot and fix.

Disadvantages of Electrical Panels

With all the pros mentioned above, it is difficult to think about potential setbacks of circuit breakers, but there is an interesting one to consider. In rare instances, circuit breakers in older panels might trip when there are harmless power surges or voltage fluctuations. These are called “nuisance trips” or “ghost trips,” and they cause many homeowners to be concerned about possible issues such as deterioration of the wiring.

What is funny about ghost trips is that they often happen when the breaker is approaching the end of its lifespan. It may be 20 or 30 years old, and the other breakers too, but only one trips when it should not. Either way, it lets you know that the panel should be checked anyway, but you can breathe easier knowing that the circuit was not overloading or overheating. Replacing a faulty breaker is an easier call than having to rewire the circuit.

For all issues concerning electrical panels in the Lincoln, NE area, contact Ambition Electric.

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