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What Is An Overloaded Electrical Panel?

The concept of an overloaded circuit, while simple to understand, poses serious risks such as a fire hazard. To understand the concerns with overloaded circuits, you must be familiar with a basic equation used in calculating power or wattage. Wattage is calculated by finding the product of voltage and current.

Consider a light bulb. For example, a 60-Watt light bulb is designed to operate at a particular voltage. By dividing 60 Watts by the bulb’s operating voltage, the maximum current that the bulb can accommodate is calculated. When the current flowing through the bulb exceeds its maximum current rating, the bulb elements will overheat and ultimately ruin the light bulb.

Now consider the electrical circuitry in your kitchen. You may have several appliances plugged into outlets in your kitchen. Each appliance will have a wattage designation and an operating voltage. By dividing an appliance’s wattage by its operating voltage, the maximum current in amps for that appliance can be determined. As appliances are added into the circuit, the amperage flowing through the circuit will increase.

Suppose a circuit is rated for a maximum of 20 amps of current. If the circuit receives a current flow greater than its rated 20 amps, the circuit is said to be “overloaded”. To avoid an overloaded circuit or electrical panel, a circuit breaker is utilized to prevent damage to the circuitry. The breaker does this by detecting an overload condition and instantly halting current flow.