If you’ve even blown a fuse or flipped a circuit breaker, it’s possible that you exceeded the electric load that your home can handle. While this scenario is not common in newer homes, old homes often do not supply enough power to satisfy modern devices. Determining if your home needs an upgrade requires calculating how much load the home can currently handle and how much load you would like it to handle.
The home’s current electric load
To determine the electric load for a home, you need to find out the number of amps and volts that the home uses. Homes typically have a 120 volt circuit for running most appliances. A 240 volt circuit is usually set aside for high voltage appliances like clothes dryers and furnaces. For now, we’ll focus on the 120 volt circuits because those the ones that we typically overload with our modern devices. Assuming you have a 120 volt circuit, the next step is to figure out the amperage for each area in the house. A older home may only have 60 amps. Newer homes have 100 to 200. The amount of power that each circuit can handle is the number of volts (usually 120) times the number of amps. Therefore, that 60 amp circuit can handle 7200 watts.
However, running your home at 100% of the electrical capacity is not recommended. No more than 80% of the electric load should be used at a time. If you have the 7200 watt circuit described above, you shouldn’t load more than 5,800 watts worth of electronics on it.
The home’s needed electric load
To determine how much electric load you’d like to have in your home, you’ll need to look at your electric appliances. You can total up all the appliances in the home and the load of all the circuits. However, this method runs the risk that you will overload one of the circuits because it doesn’t evaluate individual circuits. To really understand how the loads are used in your house, you need to figure out which outlets are connected to each circuit. Turning the breakers on and off while testing outlets is an easy way to do this. Those with fuse boxes can screw and unscrew the fuses for the same effect. Once you know where each circuit is located, tally the devices used on the outlets. Most devices have a wattage listed on them. Electric heaters are typically 1500 W and electric hair dryers are about 1100 watts. These devices consume more electricity than most.
The final step is to compare your home’s current electric load capacity to your needs (for each circuit). If the needed electrical load exceeds 80% of the home’s capabilities, it may be time to upgrade your system. A professional electrician is needed to complete this upgrade because it requires working on a “hot” electrified system. However. once upgraded, you can enjoy the benefits of an increased electrical load – fewer circuit breakers tripping or fuses blowing.