Electricity Shut Off

 Electricity is certainly dangerous, but I have a lot more experience with electricity than gas, and electricity (usually) isn’t likely to blow up my home, although a spark from an electric source could start a fire or ignite an explosion, particularly if gas has accumulated.

To prevent sparks or the risk of electrocution, you need to know where the electricity shut off is.

Electricity Shut Off

Most people assume the circuit breakers in the house is where the electricity gets turned off. If you’re only wanting to turn off certain parts of the house that is true. But if you want to shut off all the electricity in the home, you need to shut off the electric main. For many homes, the electric main is outside, usually near the electric meter.

In many homes, the electric main looks like a big circuit breaker switch. It's this main where electricity is shut off.

Most newer homes (particularly those built in the 1970’s and later) will use circuit breakers with similar-looking mains, but there are still plenty of older homes that have older style breakers, circuits, and even fuses.

If you don’t know, your best option is to get an electrical professional to show you were your electrical main is located and how to shut it off.


Electric meter from late 1970's home

Opening the panel to the side of the meter reveals a single, larger-type circuit breaker. This is the electric main breaker. From here the electricity goes to the circuit panel inside the home. While circuit breakers inside the home have typical amp ratings from 15 to 20 (or higher for things like stoves and air conditioning), the main will have a larger rating like 100 amp or 200 amp.


Opened electric meter panel

Reducing Surge Risk

Unless I suspect damaged electrical cables, or have reason to suspect possible arcing and sparking (which could cause a fire), the electricity is the last utility I worry about turning off. 

If an electronic device or electric appliance has fallen over, or been damaged, it’s best to unplug it and have it checked for safe operation before plugging it back in.

If electrical damage inside the home is not suspected, a big reason to turn off the electric main would be to prevent a high voltage surge from going through the home and damaging appliances and electrical devices. 

If the power goes out, you may consider unplugging sensitive electronics, particularly if they are not plugged into a surge protector. It's not uncommon for there to be voltage surge when power is restored. While the surge may not be too high, it doesn’t take much to fry a sensitive system.

Your best option for your electronics, so you don’t have to worry what should be unplugged, is to invest in a high quality surge protector. Without going into what constitutes a good surge protector, the biggest thing is, generally, the higher the joules rating the better. 

A joule is a measurement, or unit, of energy. Basically, more joules means your surge protector should be able to protect your equipment from higher blasts of energy.

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