Understanding the Capacity of Your Circuit Breaker

By Anonymous

When you’re thinking about using an electric heater, or any appliance for that matter, it’s important to know exactly how much electricity your circuit breakers can handle before you make a purchase. You don’t want to deal with the hassles of continuously tripping your circuit breakers, or worse.

A Little About Circuit Breakers

Electricity emerges from your local power plant, travels through the power lines along the side of the road, and eventually into your home. Circuit breakers are essential for any building because they act as a kind of hall monitor as the electricity runs through your home or business--they don’t want the electricity flowing too fast.

Every electrical appliance you use requires a specific level of electrical current in order for it to function. The wiring in a house runs to a central circuit breaker panel, containing dozens of circuits wired to various parts of the house, usually individual rooms. Each circuit is capable of handling a certain amount of voltage that passes through it, usually 120 or 240 V in a residence, 277 V for an average-sized industrial space.

That means if one circuit is wired to one room in your house, you have between 120 and 240 V available to you before your circuit breaker shorts, depending on your specific wiring. Panels are required to label what level of voltage each circuit breaker can withstand. If your panel is not labeled, you never want to assume. Always consult an electrician before attempting any kind of electrical work.

Without a circuit breaker, the everyday appliances you use could pull too much electricity, possibly causing a fire or other kinds of damage to your home. The circuit breaker’s job is to prevent that from happening when electrical currents reach unsafe levels. Simply put, when your circuit breaker trips, that means there is too much current flowing through the circuit breaker.

For example, if you were to plug in a 240 V heater into an outlet connected to a 120 V circuit breaker, the hall monitor would step in. The circuit breaker would short, causing the switch within the breaker to flip and cut the electricity off from that circuit, preventing any serious damage to your home.

Now that you have a little background on circuit breakers, always double check the voltage of your appliances before plugging them! Take your new knowledge and check out HomElectrical’s wide range of heaters and other appliances for any size room and multiple voltages.