The TV is on, the lamps are lit, your computer, phone and tablet are plugged into their respective chargers. Then, you turn on the blow dryer, start the microwave or roll out the vacuum.
Too many electrical devices have caused an electrical overload in your home. Not only is this a major inconvenience, but it could damage your devices, or worse, lead to an electrical fire. Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about preventing electrical overloads without cutting down on your electricity use.
What Is an Electrical Overload?
An electrical overload occurs when there are too many electrical devices plugged in and turned on at once, exceeding the electrical circuit’s limit. When your home’s electricity use surpasses the capacity of its electrical wiring, it will cause the circuit breakers to shut off at the main electrical panel. This may leave you without power in a few rooms of your home or in its entirety.
Is an Electrical Overload Dangerous?
While an overloaded electrical system is a potential fire hazard, a properly installed electrical system will have a protective device at the electrical panel that automatically switches the power off before any significant harm occurs. In most cases, you will simply have to flip the circuit breaker that tripped. However, the issue can be more complicated in older homes, where a fuse may blow or burn out. If you live in older home or have not had an electrical inspection in a while, have a professional electrician make sure your home is safe.
How Do I Prevent My Electrical System From Overloading?
The key to preventing an electrical overload is making sure you don’t exceed your electrical system’s capacity with the devices you have plugged in. To do so, you may have to do a little math.
Start at the electrical panel. Educate yourself on which breakers feed which rooms in your home and note their amp ratings. For example, the breaker connected in your living room may have a rating of 20 amps. That means the total amperage of the electrical devices in use within your living room should not exceed 20 amps. It’s best practice to use no more than 80 percent of a circuit breaker’s capacity, so in this case, you should try not to exceed 16 amps.
Most of your appliances will have a label that tells you how many amps it uses, but you may have to figure it out yourself when it comes to lighting. To find out how many amps a light bulb consumes, use this simple formula:
Watts (of the device) / Volts (of the circuit) = Amp Usage
For a 60-watt light bulb used in a 120-volt circuit, the amp usage would equal 0.5.
By adding up the amperage of each electrical device you intend to plug into one area, you can determine whether your circuit will be able to sustain it. If you find that your circuit won’t be able to support your electrical needs, an electrician can outfit your home with additional outlets connected to a different circuit.
Are Your Circuits Meeting Your Electrical Needs?
With all the gadgets and appliances we use throughout our day, our home’s electrical capacity might not cut it. If your home’s electrical system could use a little more juice, Mister Sparky can help! Our team of experienced electricians will get your home that extra spark it needs. Give us a call today or schedule your appointment online.