Electrical Panel Upgrade
Hiring licensed electricians for an electrical service panel upgrade, commonly referred to as a main upgrade, main panel upgrade, or service upgrade, is a smart move. The professionals will help ensure the power supply remains in place and working safely while providing the needed upgrade services.
What is an Electrical Service Panel?
While most people know what the main electrical service panel in their home is, they may not fully understand the role it plays in supplying power to the various appliances and devices in their homes. This is the central point designed to connect the wires from the outside of the house to the wires inside the home. It is also responsible for transmitting power from the electric company to the home.
Other names for the electrical service panel include an electrical panel, load center, breaker panel, distribution panel, fuse box, and breaker box. This is the location you go to when the breakers must be filled off or to get the power to come back on after a breaker as tripped. Usually, this box is found in the garage, on the exterior of the home, or in a utility room. While these are the typical locations, it can be found anywhere, depending on the house design and builder. Put simply, the residential electrical panel distributes all the electricity that is used to power a home.
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How Often Should the Electrical Panel be Inspected or Maintained?
While the breaker box may be located out of sight, it does not mean it should be ignored. The panel serves as the home's "central nervous system" because all the electricity going into or out of the house travels through it. If the panel is not properly and regularly maintained, the home may experience various power failures, along with other issues.
What May Happen as the Breaker Panel Gets Older?
As a home gets older, the electrical panel may begin to have a difficult time keeping up with the system's increased electrical demands. Modern homeowners are using more lights, electrical gadgets, computers, TV, appliances, and larger HVAC systems than ever before. While this is true, many of the units are energy efficient, which means that electricity hogging is not a huge concern.
The main problem with all these electrical gadgets in homes is that they are all pulling electricity simultaneously. If the home is over a decade old, it may not have the ability to keep up with the current electrical demand. It is up to a homeowner to know if this is an issue, and if a professional evaluation is needed.
An older electrical panel may malfunction, but the most common issue is that the circuits become overloaded. When this begins to happen, a homeowner may notice flickering lights, or they may have to turn off one appliance to use another one. However, if the panel is defective or malfunctioning, the breakers will trip much more often, or they may not trip, and someone in the home may be shocked. In the worse possible situation, if the breaker does not trip, it could cause a fire, melted wires, smoke, or another issue due to overheating. All these situations are dangerous.
Top Signs That Electrical Service Panel Upgrades Are Needed
As electrical service panels age, they will wear down and result in electrical issues around the house. If someone lives in an older home, some of the issues they see with outlets or lighting may be an indication of a problem with the panel.
There are some signs homeowners can look for when trying to determine if a panel upgrade is needed. These include:
- Power outages
- Wire corrosion
- Limited room for additional load
- Light flickering
- Fire danger or sparks
- Bad or burnt connectors
- Outlets turning off
If one or several of the above issues are seen, experts recommend calling for a professional inspection and evaluation right away.
The panel box or breaker box should be inspected and evaluated yearly, especially if it is more than 25 years old. However, make sure the professional called for this service doesn't stop with the breaker box. It is also necessary to look at the entire electrical system. If someone has plans to make a large improvement to their home, they should assess the extra power that is needed. Major appliances like double ovens, outdoor lights, garage door openers, hot tubs, and HVAC systems along with kitchen remodels and room additions may require the breaker box to be expanded, and a new electrical panel installed.
Consider the Rating of the Electrical Panel
To find out the capacity of the existing breaker panel, look inside. There is usually a tag located on the door, which will list the maximum voltage, the power dissipation capability, and current for the panel and the buses. Today, most breaker boxes in place will be 200, 150, or 100 amps. An average home will usually require a 200-amp panel to provide power for all the appliances and meet the electrical needs of those in the house.
Keep in mind, though, the installation of a new breaker panel will not provide a higher level of power to the home.
The Electrical Service Upgrade
The electrical service upgrade will help to increase the overall capacity of the current electrical service. An older home doesn't have enough power to handle the growing demand for modern appliances and today's lifestyle. This is when a service upgrade is necessary. This often includes an upgrade of the meter socket, electric panel, the wire between the utility and the meter, the wire between the panel and the meter, and the entire grounding system.
Call the Professionals for Help
When it is time to invest in a panel upgrade, a homeowner will find they can achieve the desired results by contacting the professionals. They can provide a full inspection of the existing panel and make recommendations for what steps should be taken to fix the issue. Being informed and knowing when an electrical panel upgrade is needed is essential to ensure a home's electrical system continues operating safely and efficiently.