Should You Get An Electrical Panel Upgrade for Your Home?

Electric panels are metal boxes in your basement or garage. This is where all of your home’s electric circuits are housed. Electrical panels are where your home receives electricity from the power company. It distributes electricity to your lights, appliances, and other electronic devices. Many people refer to electrical panels as “fuse boxes”, but that name is misleading since most homes no longer use fuses.

There are different circuits for different rooms, areas, or appliances. For instance, your kitchen outlets may be on one circuit, and your living room outlets may be on a different circuit. Ideally, you or the electrician have labeled all of the circuits on your panel. Controlling each circuit in your home can be done in one of two ways:

  • Fuses – It looks like the end of a lightbulb. They are small electric plugs that screw into your electric panel. The small wire in the fuse melts if a circuit the power becomes overloaded, stopping electricity flow to that circuit. The fuse must be replaced manually. Many electrical experts think fuses are outdated.
  • Circuit breakers- Generally, these are safer and more common. These are the switches inside your electrical panel. When a circuit becomes overloaded, the power will simply be shut off. If something has overloaded the circuit, you can unplug it and flip the breaker back on without having to replace it.

What Is an Electrical Panel Upgrade?

While many people do not fully comprehend what the electric upgrade process entails, understanding it is important nonetheless. If you haven’t had noticeable problems with your electrical system, you haven’t had much incentive to learn about upgrades.

In reality, however, you need to understand how and why electrical upgrades are necessary. Faulty or overloaded circuits are potentially dangerous and could result in a fire starting in your home.

Signs You Should Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

  1. It’s Original to Your Home

Electrical panels have a lifespan of 25 to 40 years on average. Does yours fit into this age range?

Even if you don’t notice any obvious signs that your circuit breaker is struggling to power your home, it may be worth hiring a professional electrician to investigate. They will be able to quickly assess your home’s electrical system.

  1. You Constantly Flip Breakers

When a large amount of power is drawn by one part of your home at the same time, the panel trips. You will have to flip the breaker to restore power when this happens.

It doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. However, if you seem to flip fuses constantly, it’s likely time to have your breaker inspected.

  1. Your Panel Doesn’t Use Breakers

While flipping breakers can be a sign that it’s time to upgrade your electrical panel, yours may not use breakers at all. In houses built before 1960, fuse panels directed electricity. While revolutionary for their time, fuse panels are now a fire hazard, and you should replace them. When you have to change a fuse rather than flip a breaker, you might want to consider an upgrade.

  1. Not Enough Outlets

Are you often forced to use a power strip to overcome the lack of electrical outlets throughout your home? In this case, your electrical panel may not be able to handle the extra electrical flow.

If your panel can accommodate additional circuits, an electrician can install additional outlets. Alternatively, if it cannot, replacing the panel may be a better option.

  1. Smells Like Something Is Burning

It is always unsettling to smell something burning in your home. If the smell appears to be coming from the electrical panel, take action as soon as possible. A malfunctioning circuit breaker can quickly cause a fire within your home.

If you smell burning plastic or wood, it’s likely the plastic jacket of an electrical wire melting. When you smell wood, you may have damage inside your home’s walls. Occasionally, an electrician may be able to fix the problem if the smell is subtle and disappears. But if the smell is overwhelming and you are worried a fire has started, you need to evacuate your home and call 911.

  1. Warm or Hot Electrical Panel

Circuit breakers trip when they begin to overheat. When your circuit breaker is hot to the touch or warm to the touch, this could be a sign of a severe malfunction. You should have your panel checked by a professional as soon as possible.

  1. Lights Flicker or Dim When Turning an Appliance On

Are your overhead kitchen lights dimmed when you start the dishwasher or use the microwave? If so, this is a sign of too much power being drained from a single circuit.  Additional circuits may be able to be added, but a complete replacement may be the best option. The advice of a professional electrician will help you decide what route to take.

  1. You’re Getting Ready for a Remodel

If your electrical panel is outdated, we have already discussed replacing it. However, when you remodel your home, you are almost certain to need to replace your breaker as you update different parts of the electrical system. The act of replacing old wiring and junction boxes can prove to be a blessing in disguise. As a result, you’ll have a safer, more efficient electrical system, which increases your home’s resale value.

  1. You’re Adding Additional Appliances

If your home is older, or the previous owners had fewer appliances, you may need to update the breaker as you update certain areas. As an example, if you plan on adding a dishwasher to your kitchen or a large freezer in the basement, your existing panel may not have enough juice to keep everything running. Your panel’s amps can be checked by an electrician to determine if they match your household’s needs.

Benefits of an Electrical Panel Upgrade

A new electrical panel upgrade will contribute to the safety and modernity of your home, but there are additional benefits to an electrical panel upgrade that increase the value of your home.

1. Safety

Electrical circuits should not run at over 80% capacity, or else they will eventually become a major hazard. Considering the lighting and HVAC systems alone can use 40 amps, a 100 amp system is already at half of 80% utilization before you even turn on the television or washing machine. Nowadays, a household with a lot of activity simply cannot use 100 amps. The electrical panel can be upgraded to 200 amps to reduce the chances of breaker trips and to prevent electrical fires by delivering all electricity from the main panelboard to the secondary circuits.

2. Increased Power

If you are adding a hot tub and/or remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, make sure you have the power distribution needed for years to come.

3. Freedom to expand appliances and your home

Installing a new electrical panel that can handle your home’s power needs will increase the value of your property. It is important to plan for the future and to ensure that all your power needs are met for whatever your home needs.

4. Makes Your Home Energy Efficient

Electrical panels that are older use more energy to do the job than those that have been upgraded. Over time, lower energy consumption translates directly into saving money.

5. It Could Lower Insurance Premiums

When you have an electrical panel and system that is up-to-date and electrical code compliant, the amount you pay in homeowner’s insurance premiums will be lower. What makes this possible? As it turns out, the increased safety of your home after upgrading your electrical panel will directly impact your liability.

Is an Electrical Panel Upgrade the Right thing to do?

It can be difficult to determine when the right time is to upgrade your electrical panel. Fortunately, electrical contractors are on hand to ensure the safety of your home. Make sure the electrical system in your home is safe. Do not try to figure it out on your own in case you are unsure. Instead, schedule an electrical panel inspection to get a professional’s opinion and recommendations.

If you want your home to be safe and your electrical system to be reliable, make sure it is up-to-code. If you are looking to expand your home or bring it into the 21st century, it is a good idea to have your system checked. In spite of your electrical system appears to be in good working order, an inspection can uncover any existing or potential problems. Upgrades to your electrical panel might be the solution you are looking for.

How to Replace Home’s Electric Panel?

Your life will be made easier if you upgrade your home’s electrical service. But this process will require the services of a skilled electrician. Tinkering with your electrical panel can be dangerous if not deadly. Those large black wires on the top of your electrical box are the lines coming from the meter outside and are always live. Never touch them or the lug nuts connecting them.

Furthermore, homeowners are required to apply for a permit to do electrical work in their homes. You should also check with your insurance company before attempting any home electrical work yourself to make sure your coverage still applies. There may also be a need for an inspection.

Get Professional Electrical Panel Upgrade Today

With licensed electricians you can trust, you won’t have to worry about electrical panel upgrades. Two Brothers Electrical can make overloaded circuits, fire hazards, and high energy bills a thing of the past by replacing your electric panel. Installing or replacing a fuse box provides peace of mind in exchange for a small investment.

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