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Why Is My Breaker Box on the Outside of My House?

Your breaker box connects your home to the electricity grid and diverts the electricity flowing into your home to the different rooms and appliances you use. When the switches in the breaker box are flipped, a current of electrons runs along copper wires and energizes your electrical appliances. If your new home’s electrical panel is installed on the house’s exterior, you may be curious why your breaker box is located outside – keep reading to learn the answer.

Is Your Breaker Box on the Outside of Your House?

Over the past 15 years, regulations have been introduced in certain parts of the country requiring breaker boxes to be located outside of the home. This is so that the local fire department can quickly shut off a home’s electricity supply in the event of a fire. If your home is less than 15 years old, then there’s a chance your breaker box is located on the outside of your home.

If your home is older than this, then your breaker box is probably located inside your home. The average age of homes across the country is 44 years, which means a lot of homes would require a major electrical upgrade to meet these new regulations.

Regulations can differ from state to state, so always check the National Electrical Code (NEC) for up to date guidance. Or, if you’re looking to reposition your breaker box, ask a local building inspector for advice about the best location.

How to Tell Where Your Breaker Box Is Located

If you live in an area where power lines run above ground, the easiest way to locate your breaker box is to locate the service head on your home’s roof. This is the point where the power line connects your home to the grid. Your service panel will be located directly below the service head in one of the stories of the home, or on the exterior of the house.

To locate the breaker box on the inside of your home, look for a metal panel door that swings open, or a large metal box that’s painted to blend into your home’s color scheme.

Need Additional Help with an Exterior Breaker Panel?

If you’re having problems with your breaker box or you can’t locate it, contact your local Mr. Electric® today. Our licensed electricians can solve any issue you’re having with your home’s electrical system, including any problems with an exterior breaker panel. Or, if you’re looking for ways to improve your home's exterior, Mr. Handyman has ideas to inspire you. They’re one of our fellow Neighborly brands, so you know you’ll receive top-notch service.