Wondering whether or not you need an electrical panel upgrade? The average lifespan of an electrical panel is between 25 and 40 years, which means that at some point in time, you’ll start to notice some wear and tear on yours.

This panel is responsible for distributing the proper amount of electrical currents throughout your home. Therefore, an electrical panel that’s showing signs of wear or failure becomes a fire hazard — which you want to avoid at all costs.

So, when should you spring for an electrical panel upgrade? Read on to find out!

Understand Your Home’s Electrical Panel

Your electrical panel or breaker panel is the home’s power supply source. Each time a switch is flipped, whether it be on an appliance, light, or something else that requires power, a signal with specific information is sent to the panel. The information within that signal describes the amount of electricity needed to power each application.

However, there are some instances when there will be a signal for too much electricity, which can cause the panel to temporarily hold the currents it would normally send out. In these instances, the electrical panel is protecting your home from a serious power surge that would result in electrical hazards — fire being one of those hazards.

In a nutshell, this is the electrical panel’s job, day in and day out. Over time, however, these panels may start struggling to keep up with the regular demands for electricity. This is especially true if you’re adding new appliances to your home that require different amounts of electricity than those that came before them.

10 SignsIt’s Time for an Electrical Panel Upgrade

rewiring electrical panel upgrade in wall

When your breaker panel is struggling with its daily power demands, it’ll start exhibiting certain warning signs. However, even if there are no warning signs, there are still a few things to keep in mind regarding the time for a new electrical panel.

Here are the warning signs and considerations:

1) You Still Have the Original Panel

As mentioned earlier, the average breaker panel can last up to 40 years. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the original owner of the home or not, you need to keep the age of the home and its appliances in mind.

If your home’s panel has hit the 25-year mark, it’s a good idea to start having it periodically inspected by an electrician for signs of damage and wear.

2) You’re Constantly Flipping the Breakers

It’s normal for your breaker panel to trip from time to time. However, when this does happen, you have to go out to your garage or utility room to flip the circuit breaker off and on to restart the power flow.

If you find that you’re running to the circuit breaker more often than not, it’s a warning sign that something is wrong.

3) Your Home Was Built Before 1960

Homes built before 1960 don’t have electrical panels. Instead, they have fuse panels — which are considered a major fire hazard. So, if your power source requires switching out a fuse rather than flipping a breaker off and on, it’s time for an upgrade.

4) The Panel Is Broken or Rusted

old worn out electric panel in need of upgrade

If you notice that your electrical panel has rust spots or even water stains, don’t touch it. These are signs of corrosion that equate to fire hazards. Have your electrical panel upgraded immediately if this is the case.

5) There Aren’t Enough Outlets

If you find that you’re investing in more power strips to compensate for a lack of electrical outlets in your home, it means that your current electrical panel can’t handle an increase in electrical flow.

You have two options here: Have your electrician install additional outlets (if your breaker panel can accommodate additional circuits) or have the panel upgraded so it can handle the extra power flow.

6) It Smells Like Something’s Burning

If your circuit breaker is failing, there will be a burning smell. So, if you smell burning plastic or wood every time you flip a switch or turn on an appliance, it could be the plastic jacket of your electrical wires melting or damage to the wiring within your walls.

7) The Panel Is Warm or Hot

When a circuit breaker trips, it also tends to start overheating. However, if your circuit breaker is warm or hot to the touch, it’s a sign of a serious malfunction, and you’ll need to call your electrician right away.

8) You’re Seeing Sparks

If you start noticing large sparks coming from your outlets repeatedly, it’s a clear sign that there’s something wrong with your electrical system. The cause could be the outlets or the wiring leading up to the outlets. Either way, large and frequent sparks are a bad sign.

9) You’re Remodeling

electrical panel upgrade in home remodel

Remodeling the home almost always involves replacing junction boxes and old wiring, which is a good thing. It’s also usually legally required to have an electrical inspection when remodeling to ensure your electrical system is working according to code for safety.

10) You’re Getting New Appliances

Whether you’re upgrading your current appliances or planning to buy additional ones, you’ll likely need to update your breaker panel to ensure there are enough amps to keep everything running smoothly.

How Much Does it Cost to Update an Electrical Panel?

Your electrical panel is a critical system in your home. The cost to upgrade it will directly depend on the number of amps needed upon installation, which means the price range is quite large. For example, upgrading to a 100-amp panel can cost as little as $500, whereas a new 400-amp panel can run you up to $4,000.

However, the cost shouldn’t deter you from protecting your home with an electrical panel upgrade. After all, it is a safety measure. Plus, the right electrician will provide you with a stress-free service.

At Electric City, we offer free consultations and service you can depend on. Give us a call today to schedule your inspection and learn about the other services we offer.