If your basement doesn't have an electrical subpanel, you should think about installing one. This is particularly true if you are thinking of turning your basement into an additional living place. Here are some of the reasons having a subpanel in the basement is such a good idea:
Increases the Number of Slots for Your Circuits
Electrical circuits, for example for lighting fixtures, are connected to the electrical panel via a circuit breaker. The breakers turn the power off when an electrical fault (such as current overflow or short-circuit) occurs so that the electrical wiring remains safe.
Unfortunately, each panel can hold a finite number of slots for these circuit breakers. You can't add more circuits to your electrical wirings with no open slots. Therefore, if you have exhausted or is nearly exhausting, the number of slots in your main panel adding a subpanel in the basement is a good way of increasing the total number of breaker slots available for your circuits. That way you can comfortably power all your basement lights, electronics, appliances, treadmills, and any other electrical item in your basement.
It Is Convenient
Having a subpanel in the basement is also a big convenience compared to connecting your basement circuits to the main panel. Without the subpanel, you have to make individual circuit runs from the basement to the panel above. That is tedious, costly, and ugly. It is even more difficult if your existing panel is situated outside the house, which is the case in some homes.
It Minimizes Voltage Drops
The size, material, and length of an electrical wire determine how much voltage it loses from the electrical panel to the electrical appliance. The longer a wire is, the more voltage it loses (drops). This means running wires from the basement to the main panel results in more voltage drop than running them to a basement subpanel.
Why is a voltage drop such a bad thing? It is not good for your electrical circuits because:
- It reduces the efficiency of the electrical circuit
- It interferes with the performance of your lighting fixtures; you use more wattage but get the brilliance of lower wattage fixtures.
- It is a safety issue since it may cause overheating in inductive loads, such as electric motors.
- It wears down electrical equipment fast.
A professional electrical contractor is the best person to handle this project. There are code and safety issues to deal with, and the professional is best placed to help you with them.