Main Panel vs Sub-panel
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 sub-panels 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 sub-panels or branch circuits, but in most cases, you will find a single main circuit breaker or a pullout fused disconnector.
What is a Sub-panel? The sub-panels 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. Sub-panels can have their own sub-panels, but they usually just control the branch circuits that go into a load or appliance. While sub-panels 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 sub-panels 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, sub-panels 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 sub-panels 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, sub-panels is the way to go. Besides creating additional space for the breakers, adding sub-panels helps the safe and effective control and distribution of electricity supply to designated areas within the property.