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What To Expect When Upgrading Your Electrical Panel? An Essential Guide for Homeowners

Written by 3PhaseKC

February 9, 2024

Results of A Panel After Upgrading Your Electrical Panel

The Importance of an Electrical Panel Upgrade

Upgrading your electrical panel is not just about increasing the number of circuits or upgrading old equipment. It’s about ensuring your home’s electrical system aligns with modern safety standards and energy demands.

Safety and Compliance Reasons

The primary reason for upgrading your electrical panel is safety. Older panels might not comply with current electrical codes, posing fire risks due to overloaded circuits or outdated technology.

Meeting Modern Electrical Demands

As we incorporate more technology into our homes, from smart devices to electric vehicles, the demand for electricity increases. Upgrading your electrical panel ensures your home can handle these demands without issue.

Enhancing Home Value

An updated electrical panel can boost your home’s value, making it more attractive to potential buyers who value safety and modern amenities.

Upgrading your electrical panel is a significant step for any homeowner, ensuring your home’s electrical system can safely and efficiently handle current and future power needs. This guide will explore what it means to upgrade your electrical panel, why it’s necessary, and how it benefits your home.

What is an Electrical Panel Upgrade?

An electrical panel upgrade means replacing your old electrical panel with a new one that can better meet the electrical needs of your home. This process includes updating wiring, adding more circuits, and ensuring everything meets current safety standards.

Definition and Overview

The main purpose of an electrical panel upgrade is to increase your home’s electrical capacity and safety. It requires proper planning and professional execution to ensure compliance with local codes and regulations.

Components Involved in an Upgrade

Upgrading an electrical panel is more than just swapping out the old panel and putting in a new one. It requires assessing your home’s electrical infrastructure and possibly upgrading wiring, circuit breakers, and safety devices to ensure a comprehensive enhancement of your home’s electrical system.

Signs You Need to Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

Many homeowners might not realize their electrical panel needs an upgrade until issues come up. Here are some signs that your electrical panel might be ready for an upgrade:

Frequent Circuit Breaker Trips

If you’re constantly resetting tripped breakers, it’s a clear sign your current panel can’t handle your current electrical load.

Flickering Lights

Lights that flicker or dim when you use appliances indicate that your electrical panel is struggling to distribute power effectively.

Use of Multiple Power Strips and Extension Cords

Relying on power strips and extension cords to power your electronics can be a fire hazard. Having insufficient outlets and circuits in your home is something a new panel helps with.

Planned Home Renovations

If you’re planning on doing significant home renovations, especially those that include adding high-power appliances (like in your kitchen) or additional living space, an electrical panel upgrade is often necessary to meet your new electrical needs.

The Process of Upgrading Your Electrical Panel

Upgrading your electrical panel is a complex process that needs to be handled by a licensed electrician. Here’s a brief overview of what to expect:

Inspection and Assessment

The first step is a thorough inspection and analysis of your current electrical system to determine the scope of the upgrade needed.

Choosing the Right Size and Type

Selecting the correct size and type of panel is crucial for meeting your current and future electrical needs. Your electrician will help you make this decision based on your home’s layout and power requirements.

The Role of a Licensed Electrician

Hiring a licensed electrician is non-negotiable for this type of project. They will ensure the upgrade complies with all local codes and safety standards and meets your electrical needs when it’s all said and done.

Types of Electrical Panels

There are several types of electrical panels to consider for your upgrade:

Main Breaker Panels

These panels contain a main breaker that controls the power to the entire house and the individual breakers for each circuit.

Sub-Panels

Sub-panels are smaller panels that branch off from the main panel to distribute power to specific parts of the home.

Fuse Boxes

While fuse boxes are older than breaker panels, some homes still have them because they haven’t been upgraded to a panel yet. Upgrading your electrical panel from a fuse box is a significant improvement in safety and convenience.

How to Choose the Right Electrical Panel for Your Home

Choosing the right electrical panel involves assessing your home’s current and future electrical use. Here are some factors to consider:

Assessing Your Home’s Electrical Needs

Evaluate how much power you currently use in your home and what you might need in the future, especially if you see yourself adding more appliances or doing renovations soon.

Future-Proofing Your Electrical System

Opt for a panel that offers room for growth and can be added to. This will save you from needing another upgrade too soon when your power needs start to increase.

The Role of a Licensed Electrician in the Upgrade Process

Upgrading your electrical panel is not a DIY project. Here’s why you need the help of a certified electrician:

Why You Need a Professional

A licensed electrician has the knowledge and experience to handle high-voltage equipment safely and ensure your panel upgrade meets all standards and code requirements.

What to Look for in a Licensed Electrician

When hiring an electrician, look for someone with experience in electrical panel upgrades, proper licensing, and good reviews from previous clients.

Cost Considerations for Upgrading Your Electrical Panel

The cost of upgrading your electrical panel can vary widely depending on several factors:

Average Costs

While price does vary, homeowners can expect to spend anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $10,000 for a comprehensive upgrade.

Factors That Affect Price

Cost factors include the size and type of the new panel being installed, the complexity of the installation and setup, and local labor costs.

Preparing for an Electrical Panel Upgrade

Preparing for an upgrade involves more than just hiring an electrician. Here’s how you can get ready:

What Homeowners Should Do Before the Upgrade

Clear the area around your current electrical panel so the electrician has easy access. Also, prepare for a power outage during the upgrade process. It is best to not be home during this time but if you have to be home during the upgrade prepare properly by charging your devices and having flashlights ready!

How to Minimize Downtime

Talk to your electrician about how long the power will be off and what other interruptions will come up during the installation so you can plan accordingly. Some electricians may be able to perform the upgrade with minimal disruption to your power supply but if upgrades are on the table, disruptions will be hard to avoid.

The Benefits of Upgrading Your Electrical Panel

An electrical panel upgrade offers more benefits than just increased capacity and safety:

Increased Safety and Peace of Mind

The most notable benefit is the increased safety for your home and family, reducing the risk of electrical fires and other hazards. Safety is number one!

Better Functionality and Efficiency

A modern electrical panel can better distribute power throughout your home, reducing the risk of overloads while also improving the performance of your appliances.

Higher Resale Value of Your Home

Upgrading your electrical panel can increase the value of your home, making it more attractive to potential buyers who appreciate the safety and efficiency of a more modern electrical system.

Electrical Panel Upgrade FAQs

Homeowners often have questions about upgrading their electrical panel. Here are some answers to the most common queries:

     

      • What is the lifespan of an electrical panel?

           

            • Panels can last anywhere from 25-40 years, dpending on usage and panel quality

        • Can I upgrade my electrical panel myself?

             

              • You should never attempt to upgrade your electrical panel yourself. A licensed professional electrician needs to make sure your panel is up to code and installed safely. You will risk serious injury to yourself and your household if you upgrade your panel yourself

          • How do I know what size panel I need?

               

                • Find your current panel’s amperage listed on its main breaker. It is most comonly listed on the breaker switch. This will tell you the size of your current panel in amps

            • Will an electrical panel upgrade lower my insurance rates?

                 

                  • Often times yes, because insurance companies account for the condition of your electrical system when determining your premiums

              • How long does an electrical panel upgrade take?

                   

                    • It can take anywhere for 4-8 hours depending on the size of your panel, how accessible it is and if any parts need to be ordered bought. This is estimated working hours provided there are no interruptions.

              DIY vs. Professional Electrical Panel Upgrade

              While some homeowners may consider a DIY approach to upgrading their electrical panels to save money, this project requires professional expertise. It is not safe for an anyone who is not a certified electrician as there is high potential for injury and mistakes can be very costly.

              The Risks of DIY

              Attempting to upgrade an electrical panel without proper training can result in serious injury or even death. There’s also a high risk of doing the job incorrectly, which can lead to electrical fires and cause more damage than the savings would be worth.

              The Value of Professional Installation

              A professional electrician will ensure the job is done safely and up to code, providing peace of mind and protecting your investment in your home.

              Safety Precautions During an Electrical Panel Upgrade

              Safety is critical during an electrical panel upgrade, both for the homeowners and the electricians:

              For Homeowners

              Stay clear of the work area and follow any instructions provided by your electrician to ensure your safety and theirs during the duration of the project.

              For Electricians

              Professionals will follow strict safety protocols, including wearing protective gear and ensuring all power is safely disconnected before beginning work but need homeowner cooperation to ensure safety.

              How to Maintain Your New Electrical Panel

              Maintaining your new electrical panel is crucial for ensuring its longevity and safety:

              Regular Inspections

              Have a licensed electrician inspect your panel and entire electrical system periodically to ensure everything is functioning correctly. Call a professional when you have any signs of faulty function of your panel. Be proactive. Any reason to worry is a reason to call the pros!

              Best Practices for Homeowners

              Familiarize yourself with the basics of your electrical panel, including how to safely reset a tripped breaker and when to call a professional.

              What to Do After Your Electrical Panel is Upgraded

              After your electrical panel has been upgraded, there are a few steps to take to ensure everything is in order:

              Testing and Verification

              Your electrician will test the system to ensure all components are working properly and safely.

              Updating Home Insurance

              Inform your home insurance provider of the upgrade. It could potentially lower your premiums and will ensure your coverage is up to date!

              Conclusion

              Upgrading your electrical panel is a crucial investment in your home’s safety, functionality, and value. By understanding the signs that an upgrade is needed, the benefits it brings, and the importance of hiring a professional, homeowners can make informed decisions that ensure their home’s electrical system meets modern standards and current home electrical demands.

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