Circuit Overload – Mainline Electrical Can Help

This is the time of year when we tend to be using more gadgets, lighting and appliances than at any other time of the year. Circuit overloads can be extremely dangerous.


So it’s December and out you go set up the festive outdoor light displays. Santa’s, snowmen, reindeer and angels light up your house and then just in case there is not enough light you deck the roof, windows and doors with lights! You stand back admire your work and then go inside for a well earnt cuppa. You turn the kettle on and out go the lights but that’s not all that goes out your main downstairs lights go out too. The TV’s not working, the electric heater turns off and the fridge isn’t working. What’s happened?? You have an overloaded circuit. All these appliances running at once have exceeded the capacity of the electrical wiring. In most cases an overcurrent protective device at your main panel will have shut down the power before any damage could be caused. The device will likely be a circuit breaker that continually trips if you try to reset it. Older systems it would be a fuse that has blown. If you have have a breaker continually tripping you might need a new circuit installed or it may be that the circuit breaker itself needs replacing. It could also point to bad wiring or a faulty appliance. If in doubt contact the professionals.


How do we prevent a circuit becoming overloaded?

  1. Verify which appliances are on which circuits – There is a wattage limit each circuit can provide. You need to discover which appliances are using which circuit and this will then inform you of the wattage that is already being used up.

  2. Calculate the current load on each circuit – Add up the wattage of each appliance using a circuit. Every electrical appliance will have their wattage listed on it.

  3. Verify the capacity of each circuit – A 15 amp circuit has a maximum wattage of 1800 watts and a 20 amp circuit has a maximum of 2400 watts. However you should not exceed more than 80% of a circuits maximum wattage therefore it reduces 15 amp to 1440 watts and 20 amp to 1920 watts.

  4. Plan according to the above – consider each of your circuits if they are close to capacity make sure no more appliances are added to that circuit.


If after you have done all of the above and you find out you are close to your maximum you may need to consider adding a circuit or upgrading your main electrical panel to give you more capacity.


Overload warning signs:

  • Flickering, dimming lights

  • Constant tripping of breakers / fuses

  • Mild shock or tingle from switches / appliances

  • Buzzing / noises from receptacles

  • Warm and/or discoloured wall plates


Let’s make sure we are all safe and the best advice is if in doubt call the professionals out.

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