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Building 101: A Look at Service Panels and Their Purpose

Building 101: A Look at Service Panels and Their Purpose

Posted by Best Access Doors on 15th Mar 2018

Building 101: A Look at Service Panels and Their Purpose

In every home, building or office you will find a service panel - do you know what their purpose is? Do you know what they do? For some, seeing a service  panel can be daunting thing, from the multiple wires and switches, it can be overwhelming.

Demystifying the Service Panel

When it comes to the service panel, some may be a little more complicated than others. For the most part, spaces that are energy intense will have a subpanel. What is in a subpanel? The subpanel will be the first spot one will go to when there is a power outage or a short-circuit as it has the breakers. Though their purpose is to ensure the energy, electricity is flowing thoroughly throughout a building - it is important that they are properly maintained.


Some issues are not easily solved with a flip of a switch - sometimes, they can involve replacing a fuse or the resetting of certain breakers. Without proper maintenance, these issues could be worst down the road.

Service Panels: A History

By the 1960’s circuit breakers were found in almost every household in America. Circuit breakers were a step up from the fuse box as with fuses they could not be reset but rather they must be replaced. During their rise to normality, most were delivering up to 140 volts.

In the next 30 years, the circuit breaker was improved to have the ability to short-circuit when there is overheating. This safety feature meant that there was less likely a chance a fire would break out as a result of a broken or over heating circuit.

While it has been well over 50 years since circuit breakers became as common as the light bulb - it is important to understand the introduction of service panels in businesses and homes as thanks to technology there have been great strides and improvements that have not only contributed to their efficiencies but more importantly to their ability to last longer.

Service Panels Today

Today, if you walk into a commercial or residential building you will find the service panel or what has some have referred to as the breaker panel. These panels allow for the labelling and identifying of where power is flowing throughout the building. This is important as it is necessary to understand what the maximum capacity is allotted – thankfully, much of today’s newer service panels have the ability to shut-off everything that is directed to that panel. This is a safety feature that previously to the 60’s resulted in many commercial and residential fires.

The right way to use a Service Panel

When it comes to panel there is a “correct” way to using and having one. Yes, ensuring that the proper voltages are used and that power is efficiently distributed but more importantly labelling the breakers used will help identify down the road if there is the capacity to expand or not. In many homes today, these service panels are labelled with markers to identify which outlets and products they power – in larger commercial buildings, they are labelled to identify their overall function and capacity in the building as a whole.

As a safety precaution all service panels have the ability to be manually shut off – which in some cases are required. Whether it is a means of resetting or redistributing power to certain areas or not, this manual power-off is a safety feature that has many benefits.

Access a Service Panel through an Access Door

Depending on the location of a service panel, they can be hard to get to. Sometimes, their appearance is not as visually appealing as one would like – which is why Best  Access Doors offers the potential solution of using an access panel to conceal service panels yet provide the access required. No matter how big, noisy or awkwardly located your service panel is, visit Best Access Doors, to speak with a representative who can help you find the perfect panel and the perfect solution!

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