Is Your Electric Panel as Safe as it Should Be?
The electric panel is the heart of any electric service whether in a residential, commercial or industrial building. Although there are two major categories of electric panels, fuse boxes and breaker boxes, they are both designed to do essentially the same thing – interrupt the flow of electricity in the event of an overloaded or shorted circuit. The most significant differences in these two types of electric panels, however, are how they protect your electric service and the devices plugged into it and the level of protection the fuses or breakers within the panels are able to provide. One of the biggest problems regarding electric panels today is that most homeowners and business owners assume their electric panels are safe. However, a number of recent studies have found that a disturbing number of electric panels are unsafe.
Outdated and Inadequate Electrical Panels
Over the past 130 years the use of electric power in homes and businesses has grown dramatically. Once used only to power low wattage electric lights, today not only do the majority of the items in our homes and businesses rely on electricity, they also use more electricity than ever before. As our demand for electricity increases, so too does the need for electrical panels capable of handling this additional power. Failure to upgrade the electrical panel of a home or business to meet these additional demands can result in disaster.
According to U.S. Census information, the average home is 40 years old. Over the years a number of improvements and regulations have helped to make electrical service safer. Electrical panels that contain fuses rather than circuit breakers are a red flag that the electrical service of a home or business may be outdated. Fuses started to be replaced with circuit breakers as early as the 1960’s and had all but been phased out by the early 1970’s. This means homes and businesses with electrical panels containing fuses may contain wiring that’s over 40 years old, which may not meet many of today’s electrical codes.
Even newer electrical panels that contain circuit breakers may not be as safe as they should be if they were installed prior to 2008. A new type of circuit breaker, the arc-fault circuit breaker, has helped make electrical service safer than ever. Arc-fault breakers not only disrupt the flow of electricity to circuits in the event of overloads and shorts, but also in the event of unintentional electrical arcs, which can cause electrical fires. Fuses and traditional circuit breakers simply don’t provide this added protection. Starting in 2008 the use of arc-fault breakers was mandated in electrical panels helping to protect homes and businesses from electrical fires.
Unsafe Electrical Panels
Another safety concern regarding the electrical panel in your home or business is the reliability of the electrical panel itself. One of the leading manufacturers of electrical panels in North America from the early 1950’s until the late 1980’s, Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE), was recently accused of knowingly producing unsafe electric panels and circuit breakers for decades and never issued a recall according to an NBC investigation. FPE electrical panels and circuit breakers were used in a majority of homes built prior to 1990. Investigators estimate that these unsafe electrical panels and circuit breakers may be responsible for as many as 2,000 electrical fires nationwide each year.
Nothing is more important to the team at APower Electric Service than your safety. Whether it is the safety of your electrical service in your home or at your business, you deserve the peace of mind of knowing it is safe and reliable. Our staff of experienced, knowledgeable and friendly electricians are licensed, insured and dedicated to making sure your electric service is as safe as it can be. APower Electric Service can quickly and affordably evaluate your electrical panel and inform you of any potential issues. In addition, we will gladly answer any questions you may have regarding your electrical panel or electric service so you can rest assured knowing your electrical panel is as safe and reliable as possible. For more information or to schedule an electrical panel evaluation, contact APower Electric Service today!