Electrical Panel Upgrade - Costs & Tips

Firstly, What is an Electrical Panel?

Before we speak about if you need an electrical panel upgrade, let us talk about the circuit breaker panel itself. An electrical panel is the central point that connects the wires from the outside to the wires inside your home and how your electrical service provider provides electrical power to your property.

It’s often also called the main circuit breaker box, the fuse box, a distribution panel, a load center, and even a breaker panel. This box is where you go when you want to flip the breakers off and on to have the power back on when you’ve tripped the circuit breaker.

It is usually located in the garage area, on your home’s external surfaces or in a utility area, but could be anywhere in your home.

Different types of panels:

Main breaker panels

Main lug panels

Transfer switches

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How modern technology force your house to an Electrical Panel Upgrade.

electric panel upgrade smart houseAs modern technology improves and the use of electrical gadgets increases, older electrical systems may not be sufficient to supply enough energy to your property. If your power supply is insufficient or unreliable, or you’re preparing an increase of your electrical system, an electrical panel upgrade may be in order.

If a planned electrical wiring change, building project, or issues with your electrical power call for an electrical panel upgrade or new breaker box, a licensed electrician can complete your project.

Your electrical contractor will evaluate your current fuse box or breaker panel to determine if repairs, expansion, or installing a brand new electrical panel is the ideal way to resolve problems with the system or allow for adequate service.

After inspecting the panel and discussing the job with you, your pro can determine the complexity of the situation and give you an estimate of the time and cost involved.

When it’s time for the panel upgrade project to start, your electrical contractor will pull local permits and get to work. Your pro’s license and insurance can give you self-confidence that the job will be finish correctly and safely.

electric_panel_upgrade_oldhouseIf your home is older than 30 or 40 years old, you might need an upgrade. Older homes typically have panels that top out at 60 or 100 amps. Newer homes usually have 200-amp panels which fit our lifestyles. Today’s electricity needs are higher than before with high-definition televisions, computers, smart fridges, and other home appliances.

Does Your Electrical Panel Trip Often? That doesn't entirely mean you need an Electrical Panel Upgrade.

Some signs you should start thinking in an electrical panel upgrade on a house that is more than 40 years old.

electrical_panel_replacement_fuse_boxIf your electrical panel trips frequently or if it makes a crackling sound, it may need an electrical panel upgrade.

The system will trip when you connect too many home appliances into a circuit which requires more power than the electrical circuit can accommodate.

The “tripping” or cutting off energy is a safety measure to avoid the wires from getting too hot. It probably means that just the breaker needs to be replaced and not the whole panel.

If your lights dim or frequently flicker, mainly when you use other home appliances, this could be a sign of connection coming loose or something failing.

Some older homes have a fused electrical service. While there are positive aspects of both, some homeowners may wish to update the fuse box to a modern circuit breaker.

Replacing a fuse box with an electric panel runs between $1,200 and $2,500.

If new wiring is necessary, or the homeowner wants to add additional circuits to the home, the price of materials and labor increases.

Rates to upgrade an old circuit breaker box to a new one will be close to replacing a fuse box. Homeowners, especially those in older homes, should consult a professional for a quote.

So how much money will cost me an Electrical Panel Upgrade?

Estimated rates for upgrade electrical panel range from $1,200 to $2,500. Actual costs can vary depending on project factors such as:

Where extensive work is required, the project may be considered a rewire.

Whether the unit is indoors or outdoors.

How many electrical panel your house have.

Whether you want to use standard breakers $9 dollars each for sigle pole or ARC Fault Breakers.

How many slots the home owner wants in the new electrical panel.

How many amps is the meter base… 200A or 400A.

Average Price to Install a New Main Breaker Box or Sub Panel - $800 to 1000

The cost for an electrical panel upgrade or sub panel with 32 circuit breaker slots is about $1200 without city permit. The exact price depends on the number of circuits and the amperage of the unit.

If the main electrical panel is full, installing an extra one will allow homeowners to have more space for new electrical circuits. The advantage of this if you need to provide power to new rooms in future remodeling or building additions.

Electrical Breaker has different prices.

electrical panel upgrade regular breakersWhen electrical contractors are doing an electrical panel upgrade, they don’t have an obligation to use ARC Fault breakers. Taking this inconsideration makes a significant impact on pricing because of a Standard breaker, 15A to 20A circuit breaker cost between $5 to $10 each. Standard, 15- to 20-amp fuses come in packs of three costing between $5 to $10.
Homeowners should expect to pay at least $100 for professional installation. Older circuits and fuses may be challenging to find and cost up to $70. Price for installation should be about the same.

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In some cases, the local power company will need to install a new power meter to meet the property’s new electrical requirement.

200A Meter Base cost between $850 to $950 to replace with electrical permit included. Small materials like fittings, connectors, and fasteners usually total less than $45. The electrical panel itself will be the most significant expense.

Inside vs. Outside Electrical Boxes

Electrical box regulations sometimes require an electrical panel to be attached outside of the home. In a fire, firefighters can turn off the home’s electricity safely and quickly from the exterior.

Homes more than 12 – 15 years old may still have indoor boxes. Moving it outside could be necessary and add to the cost of the project. Otherwise, the location shouldn’t affect the price of installation.

Project cost increases if a professional must tear out and replace drywall or plaster to perform the necessary work. Expect to pay about $2.50 per square foot for professional drywall repair.

Electrical Panel Costs

Total material costs depend on the type of unit and the features you choose.

The retail price of the Electrical Panel itself is $80 to $150.

The more power you need the more will affect the total price.

Some older homes have their original 60-amp units, but modern homes typically require 125a,200a to 400 amps of power to handle the everyday electrical load of computers, air conditioning, and appliances.

Additional Costs

Electrical Panel upgrade is not always an independent project. An old electrical panel may also have old wiring, worn outlets, outdated fixtures, and damaged circuits.

Electricians who notice extensive wear and tear may recommend upgrades to other components. Necessary updates can significantly increase the costs of a given project, but they support a safe and functional power system.

To keep expenses as low as possible, homeowners should request quotes from at least three different contractors. Use a combination of trust, cost, experience, and reputation to make a final decision.

AFCI vs. GFCI Breakers

electrical panel upgrade breakersAFCI and GFCI breakers can be as much as ten times the price of standard versions, between $45 and $80 each.

Specialty breakers offer extra protection to help reduce the likelihood of electrical hazards, like fires or electrocution.

Code requires this type of protection in areas of the home, such as standard rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) models protect against water damage.

Arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers protect against damaged wiring.

When the system needs both types of protection, you have two choices.

You can either use a combination AFCI/GFCI breaker or an AFCI breaker with a GFCI receptacle. Combination breakers cost about $50 at home improvement stores.

Combo units are usually more cost-effective than buying the specialty breaker and receptacle separately.

Federal Pacific & Other Top Service Panels

electric panel upgrade recall In addition to amps and number of circuits, the brand you choose will affect how much you pay.

Some manufacturers offer warranties on their products when installed by a licensed electrician in the united stated.

Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE) and Zinsco were two of the most common manufacturers of circuit breaker boxes from the 1950s to 1980s.

When these units did not meet safety standards, retailers stopped selling them. However, these brands are in many homes across the country.

If your home has one, you should contact a professional to replace it as soon as possible.

More Reasons to Upgrade The Electrical Panel or Replace it

You can upgrade your panel for both functional and make your home safer and more valuable.

Modern homes need more power than decades-old homes and businesses. As technology grows, power requirements will continue to increase.

Prospective homeowners may look at old panels as a sign of an obsolete electrical system in disrepair. Updating can make a difference for resale.

FPE or Zinsco models, known to be safety hazards, should be replaced as soon as possible. Conditions that show an immediate need for attention include:

Flickering lights.

Buzzing.

Crackling sounds.

Blown fuses.

If you see any of these symptoms, contact an electrician as soon as possible.
In some cases, heat can build up in the walls and cause a fire. While repair may be enough, pros will often recommend an upgrade to improve the overall quality of the system and prevent future hazards.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of An Electrical Panel Upgrade

Updating a panel has a lot of advantages. Most older homes only used enough electricity to need 100 amps, but modern equipment often requires as many as 200 amps.

Homeowners who upgrade can install new devices and appliances without the fear of running out of juice or breaking their system.

The main disadvantages to panel upgrades are the upfront costs and the turmoil construction often brings.

Address both difficulties by starting the project during a planned renovation or addition.

When walls are already being torn down for other purposes, an electrician can jump in and make the necessary upgrades. The savings earned by coordinating projects can be significant.

Electrical projects usually are not the best for do-it-yourself. There are lots of things that can go wrong, several of which are fatal. Working with a licensed, knowledgeable electrician will likely help you save in the long run. All these professionals are aware of the local and most current electrical codes and can inspect your electric panel as well as wiring for any issues.

Electricians go through comprehensive training to become certified and are required to complete continuing education hours to renew their licenses, which also helps to keep them up with national, state, and local laws and regulations.

By the National Fire Protection Association, “Between 2010 and 2014, U.S. municipal fire departments responded to about 45,210 property structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction.

These fires caused annual averages of 420 civilian fatalities, 1,370 civilian accidents, and $1.4 billion in direct property damage.”

An electrical contractor also does more than safely wire your property; he or she can expertly inform you on how much electrical energy your home needs to run appropriately.

Be sure to tell him or her about any future significant home appliance upgrades or improvements you have prepared.

Even a brand new TV and setting up a surround sound or other devices can make a difference in the amount of electricity your residence needs. An electrician can also tell if your wiring is old or if circuits are damaged.

When searching for an electrical contractor, try and get several estimates and keep in mind that the cheapest option is not always the most effective.

You want to pick a trained and licensed electrician with recommendations. The average electrical panel upgrade requires about 8 to 10 hours to complete.

While the cost may be more than what you might spend using a ceiling fan installed or a new light switch put in, upgrading your electrical panel will prevent future problems and ensure your home can handle all its electrical requirements.

Conclusion

Electrical repairs are dangerous. The perils of replacing your box are too many to consider doing it yourself. When a property owner has decided to upgrade, he or she should find a licensed and insured electrician.

Leave electrical system issues to trained professionals who know precisely how to handle them. Pros pull the proper permits and work with your local power supplier.

A professional will also be familiar with current code and safety requirements. The electrician knowledge will ensure your family is safe from hazards, as well as prevent expensive repairs in the future.

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