Electrical Panel Upgrade
Upgrading your electrical service may be an essential task if you live in an older home or would like to meet the electrical demands of adding new appliances to ensure home safety and electrical stability. The problem with having an older service panel is that the standards of older equipment are obsolete for handling the payload and demands of new homeowners in this day in age. This is because the typical modern family uses more electrical appliances and devices than a family — let’s say — 20 to 30 years ago. This is why it is important to upgrade your panel for safety reasons, so you and your family no longer have to worry about power outages because of the many devices used or plugged in simultaneously.
What is a Breaker Panel and How does it work?
An electrical service panel is a central unit that connects the external wires from your service provider (through the meter box) to the wiring inside your home which allows you to receive power. This panel, in conjunction with the breaker box inside, is accountable for monitoring and regulating the electrical current that flows through your residential home. In many cases, heavy-duty equipment or extra appliances will cause the circuit breaker to “trip” to prevent high spikes in the current from damaging your home’s internal wiring. With the absence of a functioning tripping mechanism, this spike in the flow of electricity can cause damage, and it can create a fire in some cases.
This phenomenon is probably familiar to you. Ever recall when your power goes out and you have to flip a switch to restore your electricity? That’s where your circuit breaker is located, and your panel is what houses the wiring and equipment.
When Should I Upgrade My Electrical Panel?
Your Home Still Uses a Fuse Box
Many homes built before the 1960’s are powered by electrical panels that are equipped with fuses. Boxes with fuses can only handle 30-60 amps which isn’t enough for newer households which require 200 amps. In addition, if your home has this type of panel, you may want to consider upgrading to a circuit breaker. You’d no longer have to deal with the hassle of constantly replacing burned out fuses whenever your circuit has a power consumption overload.
You Live in a Home that is More than 20 Years Old
Older homes may have trouble handling modern-day electronics and appliances. This is because homes that were built 20-30 years ago and older are usually equipped with service panels that max out at 60-100 amps. This was fine in the past, but homes usually require updated panels to handle the higher payloads of modern-day electronics. This typically requires 200 amps to safely handle common household needs.
Your Electrical Panel has a Strange Smell
If you notice a strange or burning smell around your breaker box, this would mean that you have old or faulty wiring. This could also indicate that the previous installer did not connect your equipment correctly. In this situation, it is best for you to contact a licensed electrician to help you identify the cause of the smell, as your home can be at risk of a fire.
You Constantly Experience Flickering Lights
Flickering lights can be a clear indication that your panel may have faulty or loose wiring.
You are Installing New Appliances
If you’re upgrading your appliances or adding new additions to your home, then you may require more power. An upgrade might be your best option because new renovations need more amps.
Expected Costs to Upgrade my Electrical Panel
What is the Cost of Upgrading to 200 amp Service?
Upgrading your panel can range between $2,500 at the low end to $3,300 on the high end for a typical service upgrade. Now, this amount can even go higher if the conditions are not ideal. Conditions that can cause costs to be higher than the average rate of $2,500 include:
- Your existing electrical panel is within a wall with studs surrounding it on all sides: usually, the new electrical box is larger than the old one, so cutting of the wall studs and surface drywall or paneling is typically necessary.
- If there are plumbing or heating pipes within the dedicated space of your existing electrical panel: the space directly above and below the electrical panel should be dedicated to only electrical items. If there are other items within this space, the new panel may need to be relocated to provide a space that meets its requirements. Also, all electrical panels need to have a dedicated working space of 30” wide by 36” deep measured from the panel cover. If there is an item within this space such as an appliance, sump crock, or sewer pipe, the new panel will need to be relocated. Relocating any panel takes more material and time.
- If there are other sub-panels or “sidecar” disconnects for the Air Conditioner or Electric Dryers: combining these circuits can cause additional costs, but the additional costs are typically low.
- The distance between your home’s main water pipe and the electrical panel can influence the cost: a new copper grounding wire is required to be connected to the new electrical panel and within five feet of the main water pipe. Copper wire is not cheap, so the distance will affect the cost of material and labor.
- The overall working conditions: for example, if the basement is completely full from floor to ceiling, this can have an impact on the costs. During a service update, it may be necessary to have access to many existing electrical boxes scattered throughout the basement. The easier the movement and access, the quicker the job is done.
What is the Cost of Upgrading a Fuse Box to a Circuit Breaker Box?
It is uncommon to only update an electrical panel and not the entire service; however, this cost can range from $1,500 – $2,000 depending on the conditions. In many cases, the service on the outside of the home is only rated at 60 amps. If this is the case, connecting a new 100 amp main breaker panel to it will not provide you with 100 amps of available power. Not having a 100 amp rated electrical service may void your home’s insurance as well. Typically, when a new electrical panel is needed, it is also necessary to update the outside meter socket and the metal conduit and wires on the outside of the home.
What is the Cost of Moving an Electrical Panel?
Moving an electrical panel is typically uncommon, but it is sometimes required depending on the layout of your home. The cost of this kind of work ranges from $1000 – $2,000. Common reasons for moving a panel:
- You are building a room (such as a bathroom or closet) in the same area as the existing electrical panel: Since the electrical code does not allow for an electrical panel to be located within a bathroom or a closet, no matter the size, this could be a reason for relocating the electrical panel.
- The utility provider has made changes to how and or where the power to your home or building is connected.
Installation of a pool and the overhead power lines are directly over the pool: this is not only potentially unsafe but is a violation.
- The existing electrical panel is in code violation and moving the panel is simply the easiest way to solve the problem.
- An addition to your home or building, in the same area of your electrical meter, can be the cause for a new service location.
*Please note that the pricing guidelines listed are for single-family residential dwellings only. A duplex or multi-family unit will require us to come out to provide a quote, as there may be additional costs.*
For High-Quality Services, Call Integrated Building Systems Today
Why do customers choose us for service panel installations?
Our licensed electricians work hard to make sure that you receive quality service. We guarantee high-quality professionalism to ensure that our customers are satisfied with the outcome of our work.
In addition to our friendly presence and strong work ethic, we don’t just get the job done, we do it right! This includes things like:
Proper installation of the unit: we pay close attention to detail and make sure that the service panel is installed properly and is flush with the mounting area to ensure optimal balance to reduce any safety hazards.
We get the job done in an efficient and timely manner: our professionals are effective at what they do. In order to achieve this, we perform proper preparation before and at the work site. We are as organized and clean as possible with all of our projects while completing the task at hand within its projected timeline. After the project is complete, we make sure not to leave any mess behind and conduct all safety measures when our work is completed.