Panel Upgrades vs Replacements
An electrical panel replacement and electrical panel upgrade may seem like similar services but there is a difference.
Electrical Panel Upgrade
- You upgrade the amperage rating into the home from the utility
- The service entrance from the utility down through the main electrical panel itself will be upgraded.
Electrical Panel Replacement
- You keep the same amperage and wiring into the home from the utility
- Only a replacement of the main electrical panel itself
Cost to Upgrade or Replace an Electrical Panel
The cost to upgrade the amperage of a main electrical panel depends several factors such as the planned panel type for install, utility entrance details, distance of service entrance, etc. You’ll pay more for a 300-amp or 400-amp service, or if you want to install multiple electrical panels. Panel Replacements that keep the same amperage and service entrance will run a lesser amount. Consult Spotlight Energy for an exact estimate on panel upgrades.
Your Electrical Panel is Important
In older homes, there may be electrical systems that still exist and are not built to handle today’s electrical needs. This makes an electric service upgrade not only desirable, but a safety necessity. An obsolete home electrical system trying to handle modern electricity needs is not just inconvenient for home owners who constantly struggle with flickering lights, tripping breakers and too few outlets for too many modern appliances—it can be downright dangerous. Electrical fires account for almost half of the home fires in the United States in any given year.
Electrical panel work is a big job that requires professional help from an experienced team of electricians.
When is a Panel Upgrade or Replacement needed?
- The lights constantly flicker anytime you turn on a major appliance
- The circuit breakers often trip, and fuses blow
- The electric panel overheats resulting in a burning or crackling sound.
- If your electric panel is a Zinsco, Federal Pacific, I-T-E Pushmatic, or GTE/Sylvania brand, you definitely need an electric panel upgrade. These panels were recalled years ago for severe safety defects.
- You have to use a lot of extension cords, or don’t have enough outlets to power all of your appliances.
- Your home has several two-pronged outlets (3-pronged GFCI, or “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets are required in new homes as they protect people from getting shocked).
- You have recently installed air conditioners, heat pumps, or any other large appliance that draws a lot of electricity.
- You have added a new office, workshop, finished basement or other areas to your home.
Can a Homeowner Replace Electrical Panels?
Replacing electrical panels is recommended to be done by a licensed electrician. Replacing electrical panels can be dangerous if unexperienced, so the work should be left to do by a licensed professional. Licensed electricians have the tools and experience to get the job done safely
What's involved with an Upgrade or Replacement? It usually involves upgrading electrical service in the home to 200 amps, which is the standard in today’s homes. In some cases, however, an upgrade to 300 or 400 amps or more may be necessary. An electric service upgrade normally involves the complete replacement of electrical service around the house. This includes the line side service entrance cable, meter base, weather head, load side service entrance cable, the grounding and bonding system, and, of course, the electric panel itself. Sometimes, we are able to update the electrical meter and the new electric panel in their original locations, if the layout of the house has not changed much over the years. This situation is generally easier and costs less. In cases where the structure of the house has changed over the years, however, we may need to relocate the electric panel and/or the meter. While this type of service upgrade is more expensive due to the labor and material involved, the main concern for any electric service upgrade is to ensure your home and family’s safety, as well as making sure that your home can easily handle the electrical demands of modern life.
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