Breaker Box – An Overview


Every home has a breaker panel which is an electrical appliance used for the distribution of electrical circuits in our homes.

All the electrical current that comes from the company flows through the electric meter and then to the breaker panel, also called breaker box, for the distribution of current for different applications.

Electrical breaker boxes are very useful for preventing the breakage of electric current.


Breaker panels are arranged in two columns, the breaker positions numbered as left to right or top to bottom with figures A, B and C phases. In North America, it takes two slots and gives out 240volt in case of 2 phases and 204 volt in case of 3 phases. While in the UK, there is usually a single phase with 230 volt of electricity.

There may be multiple breaker boxes in different places. The number varies according to the electricity demand; the more electrical demand, the more breaker boxes a building would have. As an example, hospitals, theaters and big schools might have multiple breaker boxes which are sometimes marked as A, B, C and so on for convenience.

Portable breaker box is also available for special occasions which are mounted to a board with various sockets.

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In the arrangement of breaker box, both the breaker and the panel must be from the same company. This is because some companies might have their own systems that accept only a particular type of breaker or panel.


A breaker box may also be called as load center, service panel, or electrical panel. It turns the power on or off by itself when short circuit or over current occurs. But increasing the number of breaker box does not increase the overall current in a household; it only helps in maintaining the electrical supply in household applications.

If the need for greater power demands arise, increasing the number of breaker boxes won’t help and the guidance of a professional is required. It may require the use of various additional appliances like new cables, electric meter, etc.



A breaker box consists of the following components:

Breaker BoxMain breaker: It is the main circuit that limits the flow of excess current from the electrical department and ensure the proper distribution of currents in the home.

Circuit breakers: These are stacked in the panel with on and off button that regulates the flow of current.

Bus bars: These are the wires that carry current from the electric meter through the circuit breakers to the circuits.

Neutral bars: It is the wire that connects the neutral wire to the other white wires. The household main grounding wires are connected to it.

Grounding bus bars: It connects all the ground wires to the ground bar.


There are different types of breaker boxes each with different characteristics and meeting specific requirements. The different types are:

Main breaker box: It has an in-built main breaker which shuts off all the power supply at a residence. This can be installed when the cable and the feeder are 10 feet away from each other.

Main lug panel: This type of breaker boxes does not have a main breaker. It has a separate switch to disconnect. The advantage of this type of arrangement is during fire, for it helps the firemen to disconnect the current from outside without actually entering into the house.

Sub panels: It allows you to re-adjust the current distribution in a residence. It is ideal in places where multiple circuits are needed in single areas like greenhouse or workshop.

Here’s a short video on an inside look at a breaker box.

The size of the breaker box depends on the size of the house. Every house needs a proper arrangement of the breaker box in order to secure the safety of the household from various electrical accidents.