How to Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

Safety should always be the top priority when dealing with electricity. As a responsible homeowner, you need to ensure that your electrical systems at home are in excellent condition.

The electrical panel plays a major role in the supply and the proper distribution of power throughout the electrical circuits in your home. When there is an overload, electrical panels are designed to automatically shut off the power source to reduce the risk of fire or electric shock injuries.

If your electrical panel is not in its best working condition or is short of the needed amperage to deliver the appropriate energy supply to your entire circuits at home, it is unable to perform its functions well and may cause damages to your appliances, electric shocks, and fire.

When Should You Consider Upgrading Your Electrical Panel?

Your electrical panel is one of the most important components that make up your entire electric system at home. It’s vital that your panel is working properly, otherwise it defeats its purpose and puts you at risk of electrical hazards, here are signs that call for an electrical panel upgrade.

  1. If you are unable to use two appliances simultaneously, say, when you use a coffee maker, and microwave oven and one or both of them go dead. This could be an indication that your electrical panel is already short of the power supply that you need for your appliances to work properly. This can result in a short-circuit or overloading which can be dangerous.
  2. Back then, electrical panels are only capable of handling 60 amps. So, if you have an older home, you may need to upgrade to the new ones that are capable of handling 200 amps or more.
  3. When you want to make a major appliance purchase that will demand more energy usage and may cause overloading if your electrical panel has lower amp capacity.
  4. If you have an ongoing electrical issues such as flickering lights when you use other appliances at home
  5. Breakers constantly tripping.
  6. If you notice that some outlets have stopped working.
  7. When you plan to sell your house, upgrading your electrical panel can help increase your home’s resale value.

Checking Your Electrical Panel

If your panel has been around for more than 25 years, it may be time that you upgrade to a newer and more advanced one. Otherwise, check your panel and see if it is showing any of the signs below which indicates your electrical panel badly needs an upgrade:

  • You hear a frying or crackling sound from your breaker panel.
  • Signs of rust and corrosion are becoming more evident.
  • The interior of your electrical panel feels warm.
  • You’re using two-pronged outlets rather than the three-prong grounded outlets which are safer.
  • You notice a distinct odor from your panel.
  • Charring or burn marks around the circuit breakers

Don’t ignore the signs that indicate a malfunctioning electrical panel. Contact a licensed electrician immediately to address the issue. Delaying repairs or panel upgrade can result in serious consequences and devastating damages.

Guide to Upgrading Your Electrical Panel

In some cases, only a qualified technician is permitted to perform an electrical panel upgrade, so make sure you ask your local office beforehand.

Moreover, upgrading an electrical panel can be a dangerous task which requires the expertise of a licensed electrician. But, if you think you can handle the job yourself, here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Secure a permit from your local building office.

Generally, it is illegal to perform an electrical panel upgrade without permission from the local building office. At the same time, you may also need to comply with a building inspection after the upgrade is done, so authorities can check if the entire panel is safe and working properly.

  • Make sure that you turn off the power from the main source. Label the power lines so you know which ones go together easily. Take note that the black wires are hot or live wires. The whites are the neutral connections and the green one is the one that connects to the ground line.
  • Open the panel and remove the circuit breakers inside.
  • Disconnect the green wire that connects to the house ground.
  • Install the new panel and make sure you screw it securely on the wall. Follow the previous wiring connections and attach the circuit breakers back into the panel.

How to Deal With Electrical Injuries

All electrical systems can potentially cause harm and injuries. The injuries one can get from electric shocks depend on different factors including the type of current, amount of voltage power, the overall health of the victim, how the electric current has traveled through the person’s body and how quickly the person was given medical help.

As most of the appliances and everyday things we are using today rely on electricity, electrical injuries and accidents are relatively uncommon. 

The Four Main Types of Electrical injuries

The human body is highly conductive and even a small amount of electricity inside our body can be potentially fatal. In general, there are four primary types of electrical injuries and they as follows:

  1. Electrocution

This is a fatal injury due to the current interfering the normal electrical signals of the body and may result in breathing difficulties, muscle spasms, and cause the heart to stop beating.

  • Electric Shock
  • Burns

These are thermal burns coming from the heat generated from the electricity.

  • Falls

Panic and muscle constructions can cause the victim to lose balance and fall which can result in serious injuries.

In some cases, a person injured by electrical shock may not have burns or visible marks or may seem to look okay afterward. This does not indicate that the person is cleared, sometimes the damage can be at the internal organs. At this point, all victims of electrical injuries should be examined by a doctor immediately.

What to Do In Case of Electrical Injuries

Electrical injuries are extremely fatal, even about 2 seconds of exposure to electric current is enough to cause serious damages to the organs of the body. Below are some of the most important tips when dealing with electrical injuries:

  • Never attempt to rescue a victim of electrocution if you are not trained to do so.
  • Avoid touching the injured individual if the person is still contact with the electricity.
  • To separate the victim from the electric current source, make sure to turn off the power from the main source first. Use non-conductive materials like a wooden board, newspaper and rubber floor mat
  • If you’re inside of a vehicle do not get out of your car immediately in the aftermath of a an electrical injury. Contact an emergency professional to make an assessment and wait for his or her go signal before you start to jump outside away from your vehicle,
  • If the victim does not have a pulse and manifests breathing difficulties, be sure you are prepared to do an emergency while you are still waiting for medical help to arrive.