Does your service panel look like the picture above?
The picture shows an old style screw in fuse type panel, these are no longer sold and should be replaced with an up to date circuit breaker style panel.
A fuse style panel is very inconvenient to use as you may not have the fuse on hand that you need to replace the blown one. This can be dangerous as people are often tempted to insert the incorrect size into the slot, THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS PRACTICE and should never be done. There is one major problem with this type of fuse panel, it not as sensitive as a circuit breaker at detecting a fault and may not disconnect the power in time to save lives.
A modern circuit breaker will disconnect the power in an average time of around 40 to 100 m/s, there also circuit breakers that have specialist applications for different areas of the home.
Lets take a look at them
AFCI and GFCI Breakers
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is a circuit breaker designed to prevent fires by detecting an unintended electrical arc and disconnecting the power before the arc starts a fire. An AFCI must distinguish between a harmless arc that occurs incidental to normal operation of switches, plugs and brushed motors and an undesirable arc that can occur, for example, in a lamp cord that has a broken conductor in the cord.
Arc faults in a home are one of the leading causes for electrical wiring fires. Each year in the United States, over 40,000 fires are attributed to home electrical wiring. These fires result in over 350 deaths and over 1,400 injuries each year.
Conventional circuit breakers only respond to overloads and short circuits; so they do not protect against arcing conditions that produce erratic, and often reduced current. An AFCI is selective so that normal arcs do not cause it to trip. The AFCI circuitry continuously monitors the current and discriminates between normal and unwanted arcing conditions. Once an unwanted arcing condition is detected, the AFCI opens its internal contacts, thus de-energizing the circuit and reducing the potential for a fire to occur. An AFCI should not trip during normal arcing conditions, which can occur when a switch is opened or a plug is pulled from a receptacle, or a device with a brush-type motor is in operation.
AFCIs resemble a GFCI/RCD (Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupt/Residual-Current Device) breaker in that they both have a test button although each has a different function. GFCIs and RCDs are designed to protect against electrical shock of a person, while AFCIs are primarily designed to protect against electrical fires caused by arcing. Some outlets must be protected by both a GFCI and an AFCI, such as an outlet near a wet bar in a family room
In the United States and Canada, a residual-current device is most commonly known as a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI),Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) or an Appliance Leakage Current Interrupter (ALCI). Ground Fault Condition is defined as: An unintentional, electrically conducting connection between an ungrounded conductor of an electrical circuit and the normally non-current-carrying conductors, metallic enclosures, metallic raceways, metallic equipment or ground.
Service Panel upgrade
Sometimes it becomes necessary to upgrade the power line that comes into the house. Older houses only have a 100 Amp service and modern life requires a 200 Amp service in most average size home. The operation also involves the power company which in Virginia is Dominion Power. This whole procedure can be organized by British American Electric of Isle of Wight for their customers.
This may be needed if the customer is adding more load such as a hot tub, new double oven, workshop or maybe even an addition.
More space needed in the panel
Often if you are improving the home it requires more space in the panel to accommodate the improvements. British American Electric can increase the size of the panel up to 42 circuits.
What ever the reason that you have for work to done on your service panel please call Colin on 757-707-0645 for free advice and schedule a free estimate
Lee, Douglas A.; Trotta, Andrew M.; King, William H. (Aug 2000). “New Technology for Preventing Residential Electrical Fires: Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)”. Fire Technology(Kluwer Academic Publishers) 36 (3): 145–162. doi:10.1023/A:1015410726786. ISSN 0015-2684. Retrieved Feb 26, 2013.
Ault, Singh, and Smith, “1996 Residential Fire Loss Estimates”, October 1998, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Directorate for Epidemiology and Health Sciences.
Source:”Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI)FACT SHEET” accessed from http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/afcifac8.PDF, July 22, 2010