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.