Is Your Electrical System Prepared For The Onset Of Winter?

Posted on: 10 December 2017

The arrival of winter can produce unexpected demands on your home's electrical system, possibly resulting in tripped breakers from overloaded circuits. There are various aspects of the winter season that can individually produce these troublesome results, but there is most likely to be an issue from the cumulative effects of the season.

Electrical Demands from Winter Weather

The cold weather alone can cause circuits to become overloaded, as families attempt to supplement the central heating system with portable electric heaters. One individual 1500 watt electric heater can use the maximum amount of sustained power on a 15 amp circuit. since most homes have a system of both 15 and 20 amp circuits for general use, this could cause consistent tripping of circuit breakers.

Humidifiers are also often used consistently to combat dryness caused by forced air central heating. While not as power hungry as portable heaters, they can add to circuit overloads. Extensive use of plant grow lights are also an additional burden not usually experienced during warmer seasons.

Electrical Demands from Holiday Light Displays

While these displays are normally limited in duration, and most individual components don't require much power, there can still be problems. This is especially true if the displays aren't using a dedicated (separate) circuit, but are instead powered by an extension cord plugged into a shared outlet. Larger animated or inflatable components may singly require enough power to cause overloads of shared circuit lines.

Electrical Demands from Families Staying Indoors

Winter weather drives many families indoors, especially during peak periods of power use such as evenings and weekends. This can produce a significant strain on your electrical system just because of the sheer number of personal electronics used and charged simultaneously, in addition to normal household power use.

If you experience frequent tripping of circuit breakers, notice lights dimming when appliances are turned on, or have power strips running from other power strips, you need to consult an electrician to upgrade your electrical system.

What Type of Upgrades are Required to Meet the Electrical Demands of Winter?

The type of upgrades required will depend on your individual needs and your present system. Common upgrades include:

  • Upgrading individual 15 amp circuits to 20 amp circuits to provide additional capacity.
  • Adding additional circuit lines from the breaker box to relive the load on existing lines.
  • Adding a dedicated exterior circuit line for outdoor lighting displays.
  • Adding a sub-panel to the existing breaker box to add additional circuits if current box is at capacity.
  • Upgrading the existing breaker box to a higher capacity panel (this involves running new power lines into the home).

Some of these additions and upgrades can be a bit expensive because of the labor involved. However , they are necessary for maintaining a modern lifestyle and avoiding family squabbles over access to available power sources when winter forces family unity upon them as they retreat indoors.