Circuit Breaker Panel Sizes
There are several different circuit breaker panel sizes in use in Canada. The size of the breaker panel determines the amount of electrical current that it can safely distribute to the circuits in a building.
Historically, the two most common circuit breaker panel sizes in Canada have been 100 amps and 200 amps but you’ll also find 300-amp or 400-amp breaker panel sizes in some larger, more modern homes and buildings.
History of 100 Amp Circuit Breakers
When homes first started getting electricity they were installed with fuse boxes but there is quite a difference between fuses vs circuit breakers.
Circuit breakers were first introduced in the early 1900s as a way to provide electrical protection in homes and buildings.
The original circuit breakers were manually operated, but as technology advanced, circuit breakers that automatically trip when overloaded were introduced to provide a more reliable and convenient solution.
As one of the earliest types of automatic circuit breakers, the 100-amp circuit breaker panel size became widely used in residential and commercial buildings in the mid-20th century.
It was designed to handle the electrical demands of a typical building, such as lights, appliances, and some electronics.
The 100-amp circuit breaker control panel became popular because:
- It was a cost-effective solution for buildings with basic electrical needs.
- It was also relatively simple to install and maintain.
This made them a popular choice for builders and electricians at the time. However, as the electrical demands of homes and commercial buildings increased over time, the 100-amp circuit breaker panel became less suitable and less reliable.
Modern homes and commercial buildings require much more electrical power to run appliances, air conditioning systems, and multiple electronics, as well as the added load of an electric vehicle in some cases. As a result, the 100-amp breaker panel is no longer recommended.
Disadvantages of 100-amp Circuit Breakers
A 100-amp circuit breaker panel was typically used in smaller homes and can still be found in older homes that have not been updated.
The disadvantages include:
Limited Capacity – The main problem with the 100-amp circuit breaker panel size is that it has a limited capacity, which means that it can only handle a limited amount of electrical current. If the amount of current flowing through the breaker exceeds its capacity, the breaker will trip, causing the power to be shut off. This can result in electrical problems and safety hazards, especially in homes and buildings with high electrical demands.
Less Efficient – In addition to the limited capacity, 100-amp circuit breaker panels are also less efficient. They tend to generate more heat, which can cause problems with the electrical system and reduce the lifespan of the breaker. This is because the breaker must work harder to handle the electrical load, which generates more heat and causes the breaker to wear out more quickly.
Phasing Out 100-amp Circuit Breaker Panels
Because of the limitations of the 100-amp circuit breaker control panel, most builders and electricians are phasing them out. They now use 200-amp circuit breaker panels in new home construction and in older homes undergoing renovations. The 200-amp circuit breaker panel size is much more efficient and has the capacity to handle today’s electrical demands.
The size of the electrical circuit breaker panel in a building is important because it determines the amount of electrical current that can be safely distributed.
It is important to choose the right size of breaker panel for your home and to have it installed by a licensed electrician.
200 Amp Circuit Breaker Panel Size
One of the most recent advancements in circuit breaker technology is the 200-amp circuit breaker panel size. It has become the standard for new home construction and commercial buildings since the 1980s and is what we install mostly when we replace circuit breaker panels.
The 200-amp breaker panel was designed to meet the growing electrical demands of modern society, which require more power to run appliances, air conditioning systems, multiple electronics, and of course, electric vehicles.
Advantages of 200 Amp Circuit Breaker Panels
The 200-amp breaker panel is designed to safely distribute a larger amount of electrical power to the different circuits in a building. It has many advantages including among others:
- Providing more reliable protection
- Fewer electrical problems and safety hazards
It also generates a lot less heat. This is because the breaker has a higher capacity and is better able to handle the electrical load without working as hard.
The lighter the workload, the less heat is generated, which also reduces the wear and tear on the breaker. This also reduces the likelihood of electrical problems and helps to prolong the lifespan of the breaker.
There is another major benefit to the 200-amp circuit breaker panel. Not only can it power a wide range of modern electrical devices but will also allow for the addition of electrical devices and appliances in the future without requiring an electrical panel upgrade to the electrical system.
Are there larger electrical circuit breaker control panels available? Absolutely!
300-Amp & 400-Amp Circuit Breaker Sizes
The 300-amp and 400-amp circuit breaker panel sizes are high-capacity panels designed to handle very large amounts of electrical current. They are not only used in industrial and commercial applications but also in some large modern residential homes.
One of the primary benefits of a 300-amp or 400-amp circuit breaker panel is its ability to handle large amounts of electrical current.
For example, they can provide power to large electric motors, transformers, and other high-load electrical devices. This makes them the ideal choice for applications that require higher levels of electrical power, such as factories, warehouses, and other industrial settings.
Another advantage of these larger circuit breaker control panels is their efficiency. These breaker panels are designed to handle high electrical loads without generating excessive heat, which helps to reduce the likelihood of electrical problems and prolongs the lifespan of the breaker.
This efficiency also helps to reduce energy costs by reducing the amount of energy lost as heat.
These larger circuit breaker panel sizes are also used in some residential homes, particularly in homes with very high electrical demands.
For example, homes with multiple air conditioning systems, large electric vehicles, or multiple electronics may require a 300-amp breaker or higher to provide reliable and efficient protection against electrical problems and safety hazards.
When installing a 300-amp or a 400-amp circuit breaker panel, it is important to ensure that the breaker is compatible with the electrical system and that it is properly sized to meet the electrical demands of the home or building.
Regardless of the circuit breaker panel size, it should be installed by a licensed electrician to ensure that it is installed correctly and in accordance with Canadian Electrical Code. This will help to ensure the safety of your home or building and prevent potential electrical problems.
Electrical Breaker Panel Tips
Now that you know the basics of electrical circuit breaker panel sizes, here are the tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid overloading the circuits.
- Don’t use too many electronics connected to the same circuit at once.
- Always turn off power to a circuit from the breaker panel.
- Never remove the front dead cover on your circuit breaker panel. This should only be done by a licensed professional.
About Premium Electric
Premium Electric hires only fully bonded and certified electricians. We offer both residential and commercial electrical services for clients throughout the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia.
We are also available 24/7 if you need emergency electrical services.
Please call us any time at 604-308-6195, contact us online, or send us by email.