Is It Time for an Electrical Panel Upgrade?
When it comes to making upgrades to your home, an electrical panel upgrade may be the last thought on your mind. Your breaker box is one of those items that tend to get ignored unless there’s something wrong. Unless there is a power outage or a tripped breaker switch, most people will simply count on it working as it needs to, forever. However, your breaker panel does need regular maintenance to ensure that it is operating safely and providing the right amount of power in the right place at the right time.
Your breaker panel is the heart of your home, powering everything from phone chargers and televisions to the refrigerator and washing machine. Not only that, it is a powerful tool for preventing electrical fires or damage to your appliances and electronics from overloaded circuits and other common electrical issues.
When was the last time you had your electrical panel inspected? Is it capable of managing your home’s power needs? Let’s take a look at a few signs that your home is ready for an electrical panel upgrade.
What Does My Electrical Panel Do?
Your electrical panel performs like a traffic direct, taking electricity from your connection to your power company and distributing it safely to different parts of your home. Your electrical panel is made up of circuit breakers that will switch off in the event of overuse/misuse, protecting your home from the consequences of an overloaded circuit. These switches are extremely important because a circuit breaker failure can result in:
- Electrical fire
- Sparks and hot spots that could lead to fire
- Damage to wires, outlets and switches
- Damage to appliances and electronics
- Tripping of the main breaker and losing power in the entire home
To prevent these issues, you should have your electrical panel inspected by a licensed electrician. They will be able to tell you if your current panel is fine, or if you’re in need of an electrical upgrade.
When Should I Upgrade My Electrical Panel?
There are many reasons to upgrade an electrical panel and they all are rooted in safety and performance. You want your electrical system to power your home without damaging your electronics, causing fires or simply not working properly. What are some common reasons for a residential electrical panel upgrade?
Your Electrical Panel Is Old
Electrical panels age just like the rest of your home’s infrastructure. Additionally, technology, codes and materials change over time, rendering some panel features obsolete or unsafe. For example, the standard for homes built today is 200 amps. If you have a breaker box that is 20 to 30 years old, you may want to upgrade the electrical panel to 200 amps. Your insurance company or local utility company may even offer an electrical panel upgrade rebate.
Even newer electrical panels should be checked and may need an upgrade. Try researching the information on the make and manufacturer of your electrical panel. Some panels burn out far faster than others. Others may be known for starting electrical fires or causing damage to homes in which they are installed. This is definitely need-to-know information.
You Are Adding New Features to Your Home Like a Hot Tub or Air Conditioner
Are you thinking about adding some new features to your home such as an improved HVAC system or a hot tub? These are not items you can simply plug in to a standard outlet. A hot tub typically requires a 50-amp 220V electrical connection and that connection needs to be installed by a licensed electrician. An electric panel upgrade for solar power can be even more complex. If you try to DIY, you may encounter issues with your city or when it comes time to sell the home.
Home Renovations & Circuit Breaker Additions
Adding new rooms or revamping spaces in your home can increase the workload for your existing power supply. Installing a home theater, performing a full basement remodel or adding a new bathroom or bedroom all require that you establish a dedicated power supply to that space or ensure the circuit they are on can handle the workload.
You Live in an Older Home with Old Wiring
Older homes are absolutely stunning with lots of character – and lots of potential electrical problems. In neighborhoods in Colorado Springs such as Old North End, Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs, homes can be over 100 years old. These homes come with generations of work performed by different standards and under shifting codes. When it comes to electricity, that can be a real problem. Unless your home has recently been completely re-wired, you may encounter many different types of wired, some of which may be quite old.
You’re About to Sell Your Home
If you’re about to sell your house, electrical panel upgrades can increase your home’s value and make it more appealing to buyers. Even in booming housing markets like the one in southern Colorado, homeowners still have to pass an inspection to sell. Performing a service panel upgrade before putting your home on the market can save you time. It can also allow your electrician to ensure your system meets electrical panel upgrade code requirements.
Remember, in order for the work to be considered in compliance with most home/pre-sale requirements, you should use a professional electrician and keep your receipts. You do not want to upgrade an electrical panel without a permit or proper credentials.
You Have Flickering Lights, Frequently Blown Breakers or Failing Appliances
Does your home have electrical issues that are annoying, but not so pressing that you have gotten an electrician out to inspect the problem? They can seem so minor but they may be signaling that you need to upgrade the house electrical panel. Some common signs that there are issues include:
- Flickering lights in one or multiple rooms. Check out our blog to learn more about troubleshooting flickering lights.
- Flipped breakers when you use too many appliances at the same time, such as running a blowdryer and a curling iron or a vacuum cleaner and the microwave.
- Poorly performing appliances or appliances burning out far too soon.
- Buzzing or heat coming from your electrical panel.
- Failing outlets and light switches.
- Light bulbs blowing or burning out too soon.
If you have noticed any of these issues, get an electrical inspection. There could be a lot hidden behind your walls that you need to know about.
Pros and Cons of Upgrading an Electrical Panel
If you’re still debating whether or not to perform an electrical service panel upgrade, here are a few more potential pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
Decrease risk of electrical fire.
Save money on repairing and replacing appliances, bulbs or whole-home wiring.
Improve your home and add more options.
Fix annoying problems like flickering lights and buzzing outlets.
Potential to discover new issues with your electrical system.
Potential cost to upgrade the electrical panel to 200 amps or add other features.
Disruption to the home during the electrical panel upgrade process. You may have to be without power for several hours during the upgrade. This means you will need to safeguard cold items in the fridge and freezer or work elsewhere if you work from home.
Potential increases to utility bills.
May require minor construction to the wall where the panel is located.
Potential to discover new issues with your electrical system.
Getting Started with Your Upgrade
Don’t try to perform an upgrade on your own. The best electrical panel upgrades are completed by a licensed electrician to ensure the safety of you and your family. It will also keep you in compliance with local codes and restrictions. Remember, your electrical panel powers your entire home and is extremely dangerous. If you’re ready to get started, Flowright can inspect your panel and help you decide if it’s time for an upgrade.