All modern houses with an electrical installation have one, and yet it is probably the most misunderstood technological element and the one to which we pay the least attention in our house.

Its technical name is General Control and Protection Panel, but colloquially it is known as “electrical panel” or “illuminated panel”, and its main function is to control the electrical installation and to protect both the equipment electricity, household appliances and household appliances as well as its inhabitants from possible landfills.

Basically, it is a kind of junction box filled with cables, usually located behind or near the front door of the house and showing a series of switches or levers facing outwards. that most of us mortals dare not touch. something What is it and what are its main functions?

Electrical panel of the house: parts and functions

Each house is a world and the electrical panels that we can find today are very varied, many of them with a few decades of delay and fewer components installed, others of recent batch and full of switches and sections .

In general, it is usual that we find the following elements, although not all of them are present in our installation: an ICP (Power Control Switch), an ID (Differential Switch), several PIAs (Small Automatic Switches), an IGA ( Automatic General Switch) and a PCS (Surge Protector). Let’s see what each of them consists of.

ICP: The Power Control Switch is a mandatory element in homes according to current regulations (article 10 of RD 1454/2005) and its mission is to cut off the power supply in the house when from inside we request more power than the officially contracted with our electricity company or in case of overload or short circuit, to avoid damage to the installation.

Normally the ICP is usually separated from the rest of the switches, with its own cover and sealed so that we cannot handle it, although in most modern installations it has been integrated into the panel itself and now with the massive implementation of smart meters, this function is integrated directly inside.

IGA: The Automatic General Switch is an element incorporated in modern electrical panels and its mission is to cut off the electricity to the whole house in the event of a short circuit or excess power being exceeded because we have many appliances on.

It also ensures that we do not exceed the maximum power that our installation is capable of supporting, even if we had contracted a higher power with the electricity company. For example, we could contract 10 kW with the distributor but our wiring could not support more than 5 or 6 kW. The IGA ensures that we do not exceed these 6 kW in daily use.

ID: The differential switch is easy to identify because it usually has a rotary lever or a test button that should be passed at least once a year to check that everything is working as it should. This element protects the installation against current leakage, avoiding electrocution.

If at any time the ID jumps, it is because there has been a current leakage to earth due to an anomaly in the installation or a faulty device.

PCS: The surge protector protects electrical devices by preventing them from being damaged by power surges or voltage spikes caused by any reason, such as lightning during a thunderstorm, and sends the current to the ground to prevent such damage.

PIA: The Small Automatic Switches protect each of the interior circuits of the different parts of the house. They separately control the arrival of electricity to the different circuits of the house and there is generally one for the lighting, another for the high power sockets, several for the low power sockets, etc. with different supported power values ​​that vary between 10A, 16A, 20A and 25A.

They are always joined together, in the form of a set of small magneto-thermal levers which are activated if they detect an overconsumption of electricity in a part of the house. In this way, only this area remains without electricity, but not the rest of the house.