01 Mar

Electrical Load: Overburdened and Underpowered

What’s Your Home’s Electrical Load?

electrical load


What happens when we add extra lighting for holiday lights, outdoor lighting, and even small appliances such as space heaters? All of these things add up to increase the electrical load on your home. Can your panel box, wiring, and circuits handle it?

What is ‘Electrical Load?’

The term electrical load refers to the power consumed by a circuit. It’s an important factor to consider when you are assessing your home’s power needs. Your panel is not just a build-it and-then-forget-it home appliance. As your home’s electrical load changes, keeping your panel and circuitry up to date and able to effectively power all of your devices is especially important. This is also a consideration when you are looking to prepare your home for sale.

What If My Home Is Under-powered?

If we maintained our homes as well as we maintain our cars, we would not only save money, but may even save some lives. An overburdened electrical system increases the risk of fires in your home. Consider the information below provided by the US Fire Administration and FEMA:

Some Stats:

Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords. 

  • During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses. 
  • Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances.
  • December is the most dangerous month for electrical fires.
  • Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and increase in lighting, heating, and appliance use.
  • Most electrical wiring fires start in the bedroom. 

Common Causes:

  • Electrical Wiring – Most electrical fires result from problems with “fixed wiring” such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords and plugs, such as extension and appliance cords, also cause many home electrical fires. In urban areas, faulty wiring accounts for 33% of residential electrical fires. Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas. This is a problem when your home’s electrical load is completely taxed.
  • Home Appliances – The home appliances most often involved in electrical fires are electric stoves and ovens, dryers, central heating units, televisions, radios and stereo systems.

Safety Precautions:

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring. Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them.
    Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Whey buying electrical appliances look for products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to “child-proof” electrical outlets.
  • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them.
  • Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
  • Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

If you are unsure about your home’s electrical safety, get it checked out today! If your system is old, upgrading to today’s standards will give you many years of safe use and even provide room for growth. At Metro’s Best, we’re happy to take your call and answer questions to help you determine the correct electrical load for your home. 

Eastside: 503-252-4700 (Gresham, Troutdale, West Linn, East Portland)

Westside: 503-643-8833  (Tigard, Tualatin, Beaverton, Lake Oswego)




About Karen Mares

A Portlander born and raised, Karen lives in Southwest Portland with her husband and children. Karen has kept journals throughout her life, and she began her personal blog, Random Thoughts From A Suburban Mom in 2007. She hasn't stopped writing since, channeling her passion for words and information into writing and communicating through social media and blogging.