What Is An Electrical Service Panel In Buildings?

It may be a metal panel in a distant corner of your home that you rarely notice. Then the kitchen loses electricity since you used the blender. Resetting the GFCI outlet on the countertop doesn’t work. Suddenly, you require the electrical panel box.


A homeowner should only check their electrical panel box once a year. A common visit for older homes with failing electrical systems. Newer homes may never require it.


Understanding what this panel is will ensure you stay safe. From changing an outlet to wiring a room for reconstruction, every electrical repair requires operating an electrical service panel.

What Is An Electrical Panel?


The electric service panel connects the street cables to the electric system inside your home. The service panel connects the main wire from the street into the building to the exit wires that branch off to service various building sections. These wires are called branch circuits. The building owner owns the electric service panel, not the utility. Thus, the owner is in charge of the electric service panel.

Service Panels And Fuse Boxes

Fuse box, fuse panel, and circuit breaker panel are all names for electric service panels. Nowadays, most residences feature an electrical service panel or simply a service panel. Not the same as a fuse box because it uses circuit breakers instead of fuses, but it serves a similar purpose. Unlike circuit breakers, older fuses are installed and removed by screwing or pulling.


The service panel houses all of your home’s power. A home’s electrical service panel supplies 100, 200, or more amps. These 60-amp fuse boxes with four fuses were common in 1950-1965 homes. An outside service drop delivers power to the house, separated into circuits by the service panel.


The Electric Service Panel

It is by nature kept aside from the major home activities. Possibly:


  • Garage
  • Basement
  • A door to the garage or outside
  • Kitchen pantry
  • Closet


Occasionally, a service panel might be found on an exterior wall, especially with older fuse boxes.


Locate your roof’s service drop and service head to find your electrical service panel. This panel should be in the home’s story. For buried electricity lines, the line normally begins at the street and ends towards the front or side of the house.


Components of a service panel:


  • Swinging outer panel door
  • Cover for the circuit breaker switches
  • Main breaker (lug) and thick wires up to service drop
  • Breakers
  • Extra circuit breaker spaces (optional)
  • Wires that connect circuit breakers to house circuits




When the service panel’s outside door is closed, it is safe to touch. The panel is safe to touch while the outside door is open and the circuit breakers are exposed.


Working on an exposed electrical service panel with the door and front cover removed. Unlike a receptacle shock, which may or may not be fatal, a service lug shock is almost always fatal or injurious. Two heavy-gauge black wires enter the service panel from the meter base or a remote disconnect. The main cable can enter from the top, bottom, or sides. These are the outer service wire ends. Do not touch these cables or anything they touch.


The main circuit breaker switch on the panel may no longer be safe with the protective cover removed. The main breaker disconnects all of the home’s branch circuits, but not the electricity from the utility service lines or the lugs they are attached to.


While it is common sense to avoid touching portions of the service panel with your hands, be extra cautious with tools. These objects, plus the exposed service panel, can potentially cause an electric shock to you if they touch the service wires.


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