Preventing Electrical Overloads

It’s Summertime, and that means the kids are home, the AC is cranking all afternoon, and your electrical panel is working hard. If you’ve ever experienced a blackout and had to flip a circuit breaker back on it was likely due to an electrical overload. An overload in a properly installed electrical system is not a major concern, but if it keeps happening, it’s annoying, and you’re stressing your system. Let’s take a look at how you can avoid electrical overloads this Summer.

What Causes an Overload?

An electrical circuit with too many electrical devices turned on can exceed the circuit limit. If this happens, your circuit breaker will automatically shut off at the main panel. The center of your electrical system is the main panel. It’s usually a gray metal box about the size of a cookie sheet, that’s in a utility room, garage, or basement.

How to Correct an Overload

The first step to correcting an overload is adding up all the electrical loads on a circuit. If the load exceeds the limit allowed by the National Electrical Code, you’ll need to redistribute the load to other general purpose circuits or run new circuits to the largest loads. This task is best left to a professional electrician.

Common Dedicated Circuits & Power Required

• Electric Range – 5,000 watts
• Electric Dryer – 6,000
• Space Heater – 1,000
• Clothes Washer – 1,000 and up
• Microwave – 700-1,400
• Dishwasher – 1,400
• Coffee Maker – 800

More Overload Solutions

An immediate solution to an overload is simple – shift some plugged-in devices from the overloaded circuit to another general-purpose circuit. Next, you can flip the circuit breaker back on and turn your electronics back on. This, however, may not be a long-term solution. The best long term solution would be having an accurate map of your circuits and circuit loads that will help you determine what you need. This can be complicated, but an electrician can do this for you.

Always Take Caution

Electrical boxes might contain wires from several circuits. Always test wires with a voltage tester before touching them to make sure they are not hot. If the wiring box looks complicated, call in an electrician to make the connection for you. Working inside your main panel is always dangerous. Hiring a pro is still the smartest solution to solving your overload issues.