iTrust Renovations

The Electrical Subpanel, Do You Need One?

Why you should consider adding an electrical subpanel as an extension of your main  panel.

iTrust electrical services


Adding an electrical subpanel to your home’s main panel allows you to expand the electrical reach throughout your home. This electrical expansion will benefit your home in many ways; i.e. prevent overloaded circuits and save you money when adding a new space or renovating your kitchen. Here, we will discuss the basics of your home’s electrical circuits and under what circumstances you should consider having iTrust Home Services install an electrical subpanel.

Your Home’s Basic Electrical Set-Up

House Electricity Diagram


Your home’s basic electrical set-up appears to be simple, however, it’s important to know how it works to understand why a subpanel might be beneficial. Homes are connected to electrical service from the outside. Oftentimes, you will see above ground wires running to your home and attached to a service meter. However, in some cases, those wires can be buried underground and run upward and into the service meter.

From there, the main electrical lines run to the electrical panel in your home. The panel is about the size of a cookie sheet and contains circuit breakers. Some of those circuits are dedicated, meaning, they service one large appliance or element, for instance, your central air unit. The remaining circuits run throughout your home and serve lighting and electrical outlets.

Next, each of those circuits allow for a certain amount of electricity to flow out. For instance, if you have a double outlet with a lamp and your television plugged in, all should be well. But, if you have an extension cord or power strip plugged in along with 4 subsequent electrical items, you could potentially be overloading that circuit by pulling more electricity than that circuit can handle.

Finally, instead of using power strips and extension cords, you realize that you are in need of additional electrical outlets. Usually, the next step is to add another circuit to your electrical panel and install the needed outlet. Sometimes, that’s not a problem, but many times, there just isn’t any more space in your panel to install additional circuits. That doesn’t always mean you need to upgrade your electrical service; it generally means you need to add a subpanel.

What Is an Electrical Subpanel?

According to The Spruce, “an electrical subpanel, also known as a service subpanel or circuit breaker subpanel, acts as a waypoint between the main service panel and branch circuits further down the line. In essence, an electrical subpanel can be thought of as a mini service panel.”

Simply put, a subpanel is a smaller electrical panel that pulls electricity from your main panel and distributes it to a specific area of the home or outbuildings like a garage or garden shed. It is basically an extension electrical panel that has its own breakers and is usually installed in an area that is convenient to the room or building it serves.

Reasons You May Need an Electrical Subpanel

Electrical subpanels are added for 3 distinct reasons; space, convenience or efficiency. As mentioned above, if you are attempting to add new electrical circuits and your main panel is full, it is then that you should have a subpanel installed by a licensed electrician. To elaborate further on more reasons you may need a subpanel, let’s break it down.

Your Main Panel Is Full (Space)

If your main electrical panel is full and you need more space to add circuits, you can either break down individual circuits into smaller ones or have a new subpanel installed. The reasons you may find it necessary to do this include adding a dedicated circuit for a new HVAC unit or appliance or adding additional outlets or new lighting.

Remember, adding a subpanel doesn’t increase the electrical amps your home has, but divides the current amps you do have when your main panel has no more space for additional circuits. However, if you are unsure whether you need a subpanel or a panel upgrade (more amps), contact us at iTrust and our Atlanta area electricians can assist you.

You Need a Subpanel in Another Area (Convenience)

There are many reasons why you may need a subpanel in another area of your home for the sake of convenience. For example:

  • Installing a subpanel in the garage or workshop for easy access when the power tools trip a circuit breaker.
  • When adding onto your home, having a subpanel in the new area creates easier access
  • In older homes with unfinished basements, adding a subpanel upstairs eliminates the need to venture into that dark, dingy space
  • Outbuildings that need lighting and electricity are perfect reasons to add a subpanel that can be accessed from that building.

You’re Remodeling or Building and Need New Circuits (Efficiency)

Garden shed

When you are remodeling your home, building an addition, adding an outdoor space or even building a freestanding workshop or other outbuilding, having an electrical subpanel is not only convenient, but is efficient. Most importantly, it may save you money on your home remodeling bill.

Let’s say you are finally building that backyard she shed and you want all of the comforts of home; a ceiling fan, a mini-fridge and microwave, beautiful lighting and of course, a window air conditioner. Running all of those brand-new electrical circuits from your main electrical panel will be difficult, expensive and inconvenient. However, installing a subpanel allows for one connection to your main electrical panel and smaller circuits to be run from the subpanel. Plus, access to those circuit breakers are right there at your fingertips, rather than all the way in the house.

Additionally, if you are doing a major kitchen remodel, adding an electrical subpanel in the area will allow for easier additions of new electrical outlets, lighting and dedicated circuits for new appliances. Plus, having your entire kitchen in one subpanel helps keep those circuits separate from the rest of the home and gives you convenient access.

Finally, if you are adding a new room to your home, an electrician will have to install all new electrical wiring from scratch. Imagine each and every new circuit having to be run from that new room all the way to wherever your main electrical panel resides. Instead, having a subpanel installed makes it far less complicated and more efficient.

Clues You May Need an Electrical Subpanel

If you’re not planning any major building or remodeling projects, you may not see an immediate need for a conveniently located subpanel. However, your home might be giving you subtle clues that you may need an electrical subpanel installed. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, it might be time to consider one.

  1. Does it seem like there just aren’t enough outlets in some rooms of your home yet there is no room in your electrical panel?
  2. Do you regularly use extension cords and electrical strips to plug in appliances and other items?
  3. Do you find yourself having to go from the garage to the basement to reset a circuit breaker?
  4. When you look at your main electrical panel, is it unclear which circuit breaker goes to what?
  5. Are you using extension cords from inside the house to the garage, workshop or other outbuilding?

Warning Signs to Watch For

Electrical power strip, surge protector

If you are finding yourself constantly having to reset circuit breakers when you are running your vacuum cleaner or a power tool, you may need more than a subpanel. In fact, you may need an electrical service upgrade. Other warning signs to look for are lights dimming when you use appliances, warmth coming from your electrical panel, sparks and the smell of burning wires coming from outlets.

If you are experiencing any of the above electrical anomalies, you could be running the risk of a house fire and should have a professional assess your home’s electricity right away. Our Atlanta area certified, licensed electricians can check your home’s electrical health and recommend any changes you may need to make; whether it’s a simple repair, an electrical service panel upgrade or adding a subpanel.

iTrust Home Services is Here for All of Your Electrical Needs

iTrust electrician

When it comes to safe, reliable and certified electricians in the Atlanta area, iTrust can provide you with the help you need to add a subpanel, upgrade your electrical service and so much more. Whether you need an electrical inspection, are planning to expand your home or are simply planning for your future electrical needs, iTrust is here with the best electrical service in the Atlanta area.

In addition to installing an electrical subpanel, iTrust’s electricians can offer you:

  • Electric vehicle car charger installation
  • Back-up generator sales, installation and service
  • Light fixture installation
  • Outdoor lighting installation
  • Circuit troubleshooting and repair
  • Switch/outlet repair and installation
  • Landscape lighting
  • Whole Home Surge Protection

Contact Us at iTrust Home Services Today

We not only have electricians in Alpharetta GA., we offer electrical services near you in Johns Creek, Roswell, Milton, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Duluth, Norcross and Peachtree Corners. In addition, iTrust offers home remodeling in Alpharetta and the areas listed above. Just a few of our remodeling services are kitchen remodeling, cabinet refinishing, lighting, smart home services and much more.

Contact your Atlanta area home remodeling and electrical services friends at iTrust by calling 470-369-0000 or click here to contact us through the website. We look forward to meeting with you and helping you with all of your home improvement needs.