What is a Split Bus Panel?

A split bus panel is a type of electrical panel where the main breaker is split into two or more sections, allowing for multiple electrical circuits. The split bus panel was popular in the 1960s and 1970s in homes with high electrical demands.

The benefits of a split bus panel include energy efficiency, increased reliability, and flexibility, as well as the ability to separate high-wattage appliances from other electrical devices. However, while the split bus panel was once a common fixture in many homes, it has largely been replaced by more modern electrical panel configurations that offer even greater efficiency and functionality. Despite this, some homes may still have a split bus panel, making it important for homeowners to understand how they work and how to safely maintain and repair them if necessary.

Understanding The Basics

A split bus panel is an electrical panel that has been divided into two sections, with the first section providing power to the entire panel while the second section controls only a few circuits. This is in contrast to a main lug panel, which has only one section that controls all the circuits.

The advantage of a split bus panel is that it allows you to turn off certain circuits without having to turn off the entire panel, which can be useful in emergency situations. However, the disadvantage of a split bus panel is that it can be difficult to add new circuits to the second section.

How To Identify A Split Bus Panel

A split bus panel is a type of electrical panel that has unique appearance and layout differences compared to a traditional panel. To identify a split bus panel, one should visually inspect it and look for the absence of a main breaker.

Testing methods include turning off each circuit breaker to see which ones shut off power to parts of the house. Safety hazards with split bus panels involve the risk of overloading circuits and causing electrical fires. It is important to have a professional electrician inspect and replace any outdated or malfunctioning split bus panels for the safety of your home.

When To Install A Split Bus Panel

A split bus panel is a type of electrical panel that separates the breakers into two groups. Knowing when to install one is important for ensuring your electrical system can handle your needs. There are several reasons to choose a split bus panel, including providing more power to specific areas of your home, and improving overall safety.

However, it’s essential to consider factors such as the size of your home and your overall electrical needs before installing one. Additionally, replacing an old main breaker panel with a split bus panel is a good idea if it’s no longer able to handle your electrical load.

By understanding the benefits and considerations of a split bus panel, you can make an informed decision about whether or not this is the right type of panel for your home.

How To Upgrade A Split Bus Panel

Upgrading an old split bus panel is a wise decision for homeowners. The cost of a new panel versus an upgrade may seem overwhelming, but the benefits of an upgrade outweigh the cost. Finding a qualified electrician is crucial for this project, as it requires expertise and knowledge of electrical systems.

Upgrading a panel would increase the safety and efficiency of the electrical system in a home. Remember to observe standard electrical safety regulations to avoid hazards. By upgrading your split bus panel, you ensure that your electrical system runs smoothly and efficiently.

Safety Concerns With Split Bus Panels

A split bus panel, although costly, is a popular electrical setup. Unfortunately, it can pose safety risks if not installed, maintained, and inspected right. Fire hazards and overloading and short circuits are among the safety concerns related to split bus panels.

Homeowners can mitigate these risks by applying appropriate measures, such as installing smoke detectors, using properly rated cables, and proper grounding. Regular maintenance checks, including labeling circuits and avoiding overloading the circuits, are also necessary. Additionally, inspection by a qualified electrician can help identify any potential hazards.

Prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to electrical safety. So take all the important measures to ensure a split bus panel operates safely.


To conclude, a split bus panel is a unique type of electrical panel that is commonly found in older homes. While some homeowners and electricians may prefer a split bus panel for its flexibility and customization options, others may prefer a main breaker panel for its simplicity and safety features.

Ultimately, the choice between a split bus panel and a main breaker panel comes down to personal preference and the specific electrical needs of a home or building. If you are unsure about which type of panel is right for you, it is always best to consult with a professional electrician who can offer expert advice and guidance.

With the right electrical panel and proper installation, you can ensure that your home or building is equipped with a safe and reliable electrical system for years to come.

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