Sub Panels: What They Are and Reasons Why We Install Them

As licensed electricians, KB Electric LLC installs many electrical sub panels in homes and business. If you have no idea what we are talking about, you may be asking the following questions: what is a sub panel? What are they used for? Would I ever need one? Today, we are going to answer all of your questions about sub panels. So sit tight, and continue reading!


sub panels

Sub Panel Installed for a Home Tesla Car Charging Station


What Is A Sub Panel?

An electrical sub panel is similar to your main electrical panel in that is houses circuit breakers that turn off current flow to certain appliances and areas of your house in the event of an overload or short circuit. One major misconception of sub panels is that they provide additional electricity for your house; this is NOT the case. Electrical sub panels are connected to your main electrical panel, only to provide more space for additional circuit breakers. 


Why Do We Install Sub Panels?

The installation of an electrical sub panel is for additional breaker space that your main electrical panel can’t hold. Most of the household main electrical panels are either 100 or 200amps. Each breaker has its own amperage rating like 15, 20, or 30amps depending on the type of circuit it is on. If there aren’t enough slots in your panel to fit another breaker, but you have enough amperage for one without going over your load of 100 or 200 amps, then a sub panel can be installed to fit the additional breaker.


Another reason for the installation of sub panels is for separation of entities. This allows you to add new breakers for additional circuits for things like an addition on a house for newly installed outlets and light fixtures. Similarly, a sub panel can also be installed for a new swimming pool or hot tub. In these cases of an addition and a swimming pool/hot tub, an electrical sub panel serves as a separate entity from your main electrical panel for ease of access and organization. You’ll know specifically that breakers in this separate sub panel only control circuits for your new pool.


Service Panel Upgrade vs. Sub Panel Installation

Now that you know what sub panels are and why electricians install them, it is easy to tell the difference between a main electrical panel upgrade (also known as a service panel upgrade) and a sub panel installation. Here is the simple and to-the-point answer:

If you need more amperage to power up your various electronics, new large appliances, and you know the signs for needing a service panel upgrade (click this blog here), than it’s time to get more juice with a 100 or 200amp upgrade. Usually you’ll know this right away with an older home built before the 1970’s that has a 60amp main electrical panel. But again, we encourage you to read our other blog for additional tell-tale signs that it’s time for a panel upgrade.


If you need more space for circuit breakers because your main electrical panel can’t hold any more, and you aren’t at the limit on your main electrical panel, than a sub panel installation is the right choice for you.


Still aren’t sure if you need a sub panel? Call one of our licensed electricians today for an electrical safety inspection! (267) 467-3178