Break It Down: Understanding Circuit Breaker Basics
Electricity moves through metal wire (conductor) that connects to a switch or outlet (component). The thicker the wire, the more electrical current can pass through it. However, if too much current travels through a wire, the wire can overheat, which can degrade wire insulation, resulting in shock or fire.
Breakers serve to protect against this hazard. For power to move from the conductor to the component, it must maintain a circuit (loop) between the source of power and the resultant energy. A circuit breaker acts as the loop interrupter, breaking the energy circuit when it senses that too much power is traversing the wires.
Circuit breakers feature a master breaker at the top of the panel. The master breaker connects to and heats busbars. Individual circuit breakers are connected to these busbars, with odd-numbered breakers on the left side and even-numbered breakers on the right side. Once power passes through a breaker, it is dispersed to the house via branch circuit. Power sent from a branch circuit travels to the outlets associated with their breaker.
Always collaborate with your trusted locally licensed electrician before making any changes to your home's electrical systems.