When your electrical panel needs to be replaced, you may wonder how much it will cost. The truth is that there are several factors that determine the price of an electric panel replacement, so the answer isn’t straightforward. This post breaks down what you need to know about these costs and how to prepare for numerous electrical replacement costs.
What is the Difference Between an Electric Panel and the Fuse Box?
Before we get into costs, many people are often confused with what an electric panel (or circuit breaker) is and how it differs from the fuse box. So let’s get things straight first.
The electric panel is the main box for your home that controls all of its electrical wiring and power. It’s usually located in a garage, basement, or utility room. When you open the door to your electrical panel, you’ll see rows of breakers or switches that can control or cut-off electricity to a certain circuit.
These circuits are often what supply the various areas of your home with power—that’s why you’ll often see them labeled “living room”, “kitchen”, “downstairs bathroom”, etc. When an electrical surge occurs in one of these circuits, it will “trip the breaker” and that switch will pop up, cutting-off voltage to that specific circuit.
These can be reset by flipping them back on, and if you reset the breaker but nothing comes back on, it could be a short circuit, which requires an electrician, or it could be a widespread outage, and you can check with your local electrical company.
The fuse box, on the other hand, commonly referred to as “the breaker box,” can be inside either an electric panel or separate from it outside. It contains fuses that look like little bulbs. When a fuse experiences a voltage overload, like the breakers, it will actually melt the filament which causes the fuse to need to be replaced. This is what’s called a blown fuse. It’s an easy fix, and can get you back up and running in minutes.
Signs You Need to Replace or Upgrade Your Electric Panel
Your electric panel might be severely outdated, especially if you purchased an older home. They can last up to 40 years or more depending on many factors, but anything over 25 years old could be considered dangerous and should be monitored closely or serviced and replaced to ensure it works properly (and safely). Things like regular wear and tear or frequent power surges can cause electrical panels to age faster.
Signs it’s time to upgrade your electric panels include:
- It’s older than 25 years old
- You experience frequently tripped breakers
- You need/want to install more outlets
- It still uses fuses vs. circuit breakers
- The panel feels hot to the touch/is overheating
- The electric panel is rusted or broken
- You hear strange noises coming from the panel
- You smell burning or see smoke—100% call an electrician right away
- The panel has been obviously damaged or is coming loose
- You installed a new, large appliance
- You notice lights flickering when you turn on other appliances or devices
These are all valid reasons to get your electrical panel serviced and/or upgraded. It’s essential to have one that can handle the level of power required for your home, and also meets up-to-date industry standards.
How Much Does an Electric Panel Upgrade Cost?
The average cost of an electric panel replacement is between $850 and $2,500. This range is a little large because it depends on how many amps your house needs, and also if you are replacing an existing panel or installing one brand new.
Most houses use between 100 and 200 amps, which measures the volume of electricity flowing through electrical wires. Old homes with minimal outlets and electrical appliances (like HVAC) might only use 30-40 amps, while a brand new, large home with state-of-the-art electrical work might use up to 400 amps.
A standard 200 amp home, though, should cost around $1,450 to upgrade your electric panel. So, if you’re looking to upgrade your electric panel and need more outlets or space for a larger home, expect to spend between $1,000 and $2,000. Older homes may cost more simply because the system itself can be a mess to navigate and electricians might find they need to replace more than just the electric panel itself.
The cost to upgrade to 100 amps: $850-$1,150
The cost to upgrade to 200 amps: $1,200-$1,600
The cost to upgrade to 400 amps: $1,800-$4,000
If your panel is too old to upgrade or you want an entirely new system with renovations, your prices will go up.
The cost of a new 100 amp system: $1,200-$1,600
The cost of a new 200 amp system: $1,750-$2,500
The cost of a new 400 amp system: $2,000-$4,000+
The cost of upgrading your electric panel is definitely on the higher end, but the costs of more extensive damage, or even a fire, are far more. So to keep your home safe, efficient, and to mitigate risk, consider upgrading your panels before something happens.
The Cost to Replace Your Fuse Box with a Circuit Breaker
There are some other upgrades to consider if you have an older home or are expanding your home that support your new electric panel and ensure your home’s entire electrical system works in tandem together. Replacing your fuse box with a circuit breaker is one of those things to consider. Fuse boxes are harder to manage and can’t handle quite the amount of electricity modern homes use anymore.
Pros of a Fuse Box
- Easy to DIY—homeowners can replace their own fuses
- Cheaper than a circuit breaker
- More sensitive to extra currents
Cons of a Fuse Box
- Always has to be replaced when the circuit is tripped
- Can’t handle modern-day appliances—they need more current
Pros of a Circuit Breaker
- Simple to reset when it gets tripped
- Compatible with modern-day appliances and electricity needs
- Very user-friendly and safe
- Compatible with GFCI
Cons of a Circuit Breaker
- Less sensitive to extra currents
- More expensive repair and replacement
- Not DIY-friendly—must be replaced by an electrician
Why Upgrading Your Electric Panel is Worth the Cost
Your electric panel is often out of sight and out of mind—sitting somewhere in your basement where you don’t think about it until the circuit trips when someone uses the microwave at the same time as the hairdryer.
And when the day comes where you have to replace it, you may be shocked by the high cost, but trust us when we say it’s worth it. It’s even more worth getting ahead of the game and replacing it before something bad happens.
Here’s why the cost of upgrading or replacing your panel is absolutely worth it.
You have an opportunity to add more outlets and circuits.
Electrical work is no easy feat, and it’s not cheap. When you upgrade your electric panel, you also get an opportunity to add more outlets throughout your home and more outlets to provide adequate power to various rooms or appliances in your home. By doing it all at once, you save a lot of money on labor because the electricians can much more easily get it all done simultaneously.
Your home will be safer.
Electric fires are the second most common cause of structural fires, and 13% of all residential fires are caused by faulty electrical work. Old electric panels drastically increase your risk of having a fire at home, so upgrading it to industry standards ensures you and your family are safe for years to come.
You get more consistent and efficient power.
The electricity required to power electronics has changed drastically over the last few decades, and efficiency is a major factor in that. By having an up-to-date electric panel and electrical system throughout your home, all of your outlets and appliances can get the adequate amount of current for what you need which not only saves strain on appliances but also lowers energy bills—that’s a win-win!
When it comes to your electric panel, we highly suggest getting it serviced regularly and replaced when necessary. At Electric City we can inspect your home’s electrical work, including your electric panel, and determine the best possible solution to keep you and your family safe and keep your home running as efficiently as possible.
If you’re in need of electric panel repair or replacement, don’t hesitate to reach out to Electric City right away!