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What is the Difference between a Main Panel and a Subpanel?

As the heart of any electrical system, it is important to understand the basis of a circuit box and the panels within. Not only is that useful in planning current or future electrical upgrades, but it will also help you optimize your electrical maintenance budget and keep your property safe. The experts at J&S Electrical Contractors Inc. explain the key components of the circuit box.

Key Features of Electrical Panels 

What is a Main Panel? The main panel is where the power feed from your utility company first enters your premises. It usually consists of a switch for connecting and disconnecting the power to the main panel, as well as all the subpanels that service various areas of your property. The main panel not only controls the connection for power, but also regulates the amount of power that reaches the outlet subsidiaries in the property. Technically, the main panel can have up to six circuit breakers to control the subpanels or branch circuits, but in most cases, you will find a single main circuit breaker or a pullout fused disconnector.

What is a Subpanel? The subpanels act as an intermediary between the main panel and other circuits connected to the property. They connect with the main panel through a circuit feeder with breakers at both ends. Subpanels can have their own subpanels, but they usually just control the branch circuits that go into a load or appliance. While subpanels perform many similar tasks as the main panel, they cannot independently add or generate more electrical supply since they feed off the electrical current of the main panel. 

Why Install Sub Panels? 

  • Separating Usage: Whether it is a mall, dental clinic, healthcare facility, restaurant, school, or manufacturing workshop, you may have a variety of energy consumption needs. In fact, each area within your premises may hold different types of machinery, equipment or appliances. Adding subpanels helps in separating the circuits for these distinct areas to enhance the efficiencies in your business operations. Organizing the circuits by their correlating sub panels not only helps in identifying the switches within a complex panel, but is also better for maintenance and repairs. For example, if you have to turn off power to fix something in one area of your premises, you could still maintain machine productivity, employee movement, or customer comfort in the remaining areas.
  • Enhancing Safety: While main panels should sit inside the building, subpanels can be installed anywhere on your premises. This can be particularly useful in the event of fires or emergencies, where entering the building to switch off the mains could be dangerous. Turning off the power through the subpanels will also reduce the risk of accidental electrocution if you have to call in the firefighters to douse any fires. 
  • Adding Circuit Space: Any main panel has a limitation on the number of switches or circuit breakers that it can hold. If you need to create more room for the circuitry of your premises, subpanels is the way to go. Besides creating additional space for the breakers, adding subpanels helps in safe and effective control and distribution of electricity supply to designated areas within the property. 

Top Notch Electrical Solutions by Licensed Commercial Electricians

At J&S Electrical Contractors, Inc., we have been serving the electrical needs of a wide range of commercial establishments for over 25 years. Our licensed and qualified electricians study the age, type and structure of the property, and the nature of your business (including types and number of appliances, equipment or machinery) before proposing reliable and efficient commercial electrical solutions. From designing and installing electrical systems, to repairs, maintenance and upgrades, we offer the full suite of electrical services to businesses in and around New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Our goal is to minimize power outages and downtime, and ensure that your electrical systems are energy-efficient, safe, and compliant with all applicable codes and industry regulations.

Need to install, repair or enhance the electrical circuitry for your commercial establishment? Speak to the experienced and dependable professionals at J&S Electrical Contractors, Inc. Call 215-633-8330 or contact us online.