ELECTRIC PANEL UPGRADE GUIDE
WHAT IS AN ELECTRIC PANEL?
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), you should make regular checks to your electric panel, even if you haven’t needed to undertake any electrical fixes. In particular, you should check for signs of rust or scorching, both of which indicate underlying damage to the system.
WHY DO I NEED TO UPGRADE MY ELECTRIC PANEL?
As a rule of thumb, electric panels need replacing every 25-40 years, so if your home is that age, there’s a likelihood that you will need to upgrade. However, there are other key signs to look out for that will tell you when your existing system is becoming outdated.
When it comes to electricity and wiring within a home, safety is paramount. Faulty wiring is one of the leading causes of fires in American homes. Generally, the older wiring is, the more likely it is to be faulty, but having your electric panel inspected regularly by a professional electrician will identify any issues.
INSTALLING NEW APPLIANCES
One of the primary reasons for upgrading an electric panel is because it simply does not have the capacity to deal with modern appliances. If you are intending to install a major new appliance to your home (such as an air conditioner or hot tub), your existing electric panel may not suffice.
USE OF POWER STRIPS
As with fuse boxes, many electrical panels simply are not designed for modern electrical usage. With constant phone and laptop charging, televisions in every room, and other gadgets filling our homes, there’s simply more demand for electricity than was the case twenty years ago. A key piece of evidence for this is the limited number of wall sockets throughout homes.
Breaker Panel Upgrades
NB Electric is your go-to for when it’s time to upgrade your service. Whether you are adding more or newer appliances or it’s just time to replace your old electrical panel, NB Electric can evaluate your current situation, assess your needs and help determine the best option for your upgrade.
Old electrical panels can be bothersome, and in some instances, dangerous.
Some things that can happen when your panel is nearing the end of its life:
- Lights flickering
- Breakers that trip constantly or fuses blowing frequently
- Not being able to use appliances at the same time
- Melted electrical wires
- Defective circuit breakers that fail to trip – this can result in overheating, shocks, and possibly fire
Old panels can be a hazard to your family and your home because of the potential for fires and electrical shocks.
In addition to faulty and outdated panels, there are a few other reasons to upgrade your service.
- Renovation of your kitchen where a majority of your appliances are located
- Adding on to your home
- Adding a new major appliance; you have to make sure your panel can handle the load
- Adding more outlets
- Needing to upgrade/change your electrical service to meet homeowners insurance requirements
- Adding a subpanel
NB Electric does all the work for you – from evaluating and planning to working with your city and utility company throughout the process. They use all of the latest and safest electrical panels and breakers.
Your Guide To An Electrical Panel Upgrade For Your Home
What Is an Electrical Panel Upgrade?
Understanding what the electric upgrade process entails is essential, even though a lot of people simply don’t know. If you haven’t had noticeable problems with your electrical system, you haven’t had much incentive to learn about upgrades.
Actually, though, you should know about electrical upgrades and why they are often necessary. Circuits that are faulty or overloaded could be dangerous, and possibly start a fire in your home.
Signs You Need an Electrical Panel Upgrade
Many common electrical issues are linked to a faulty electrical panel since the panel is linked to the entire electrical system. If the panel is malfunctioning, the damage is likely spread throughout the house.
As one electrical contractor put it: “Your electrical panel is like your heart—it’s vital to the overall health of your system.”
The following sections explain some reasons why you might want to consider an electrical panel upgrade for your home in the near future:
Your Home Still Has a Fuse Box or Your Electrical Panel is Unsafe for Other Reasons
Fuse boxes were the norm for homes through the 1960s, and quite a few homes still have them today. If yours is one of them, the fuse box should be replaced.
It’s not that the fuse box is dangerous in and of itself, though it can be pretty inconvenient to have to keep replacing fuses. Rather, it’s the various stopgap measures people may have taken over the years to keep the boxes functional.
How to Locate and Label Your Electrical Panel
Electrical Panel Safety
If you notice anything suspect about your electrical panel, such as rust, corrosion, melting plastic, or any other damage, call your electrician right away.
Make sure your home is outfitted with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs). These “circuit interrupters” will cut off power in dangerous situations to protect you from electrocutions and building fires. Keep in mind that if you have AFCIs and GFCIs installed at the breaker box, you may need to reset your breakers more frequently. Learn more about protecting your home from electrical hazards with our safety checklist.
Things to Consider
Once you choose to index your switches, you will need to decide how you want to label them. Do you want to take a casual tone and label the switch “Molly’s Room” or “TV Room” or will you use a less-personal tone and instead of “Molly’s Room” say “north wall of west bedroom”? There are pros and cons for both labeling styles.
How to Label Your Electrical Panel
Luckily, you found your electrical panel, opened it up, and found all the circuits clearly labeled. Still, it’s a good idea to double-check its accuracy.
Each switch controls something different. You can recruit someone to help you and together you can figure out which switch goes to what by simply flipping them and finding out.
When Do I Need to Access My Panel?
The main reason you need to locate your panel is to turn power back on to a circuit. If a fuse has blown due to an overloaded outlet in your home, you’ll need to locate the panel in order to replace the fuse and restore power. If the breaker trips, you need to find the tripped breaker and turn it all the way off before you flip it back on again.
Electrical Panel Upgrades
Your electrical panel regulates the electricity coursing through your home. If too much electricity is demanded on a circuit, a circuit breaker is tripped in the electrical panel to stop the electricity from overloading the wiring. An overload can cause a fire, so it’s the job of the electrical panel to break the circuit and regulate the electricity in the system to keep your home and family safe.
Unfortunately, as your home gets older, the electrical panel could have a hard time keeping up with the increased electrical demands on the system. Your appliances, televisions, computers, HVAC systems, lights and other electrical gadgets are increasingly energy efficient, but the average modern household uses more gadgets than ever before. If your home is more than 10 years old, your electrical system may not be able to keep up with your electrical demand. How do you know for sure?
How an Electrical Panel Works
The main power line from your electric company connects directly to a power meter on the outside of your home. Then the line goes directly to the electrical panel. You can usually find your home’s electrical panel in a garage, utility room, closet or basement. It’s usually painted gray.
When you look inside the electrical panel, you will see rows of switches. These are the circuit breakers that distribute the main power line into smaller branch lines. Some of the switches are doubled or tripled together because they power appliances that require large electricity loads, such as air conditioners and electric dryers. Inside the electrical panel door there should be a label that maps out the locations of the outlets and appliances according to the numbers on the switches. The switches also have numbers on them that tell you how many amps the branch line can carry before the breaker switch is tripped. The electrical panel also has a main power breaker that can turn off power to the whole system.