Do you think your electrical panel needs an upgrade? Fortunately for you, there are specific signs that will tell you that you need to upgrade it as soon as possible.
Owning a home brings a lot of responsibilities. You need to make sure that your house is upgraded. It is not just for the sake of comfort. This is necessary for your safety as well.
There are areas in your home that requires regular maintenance, upgrades, and upkeep. There are also some that will only need replacing after years of being used. While this seems convenient, there is a danger in forgetting about the need to upgrade.
The electrical panel in your home is one of the areas that do not need consistent upgrades. It would take a lot of years before there is a need for an upgrade. But before we try to figure out when you need to get a new one, let us understand more about this part of your home.
What is an electrical panel?
This is known by many names: fuse box, breaker panel, load center, distribution panel, and breaker box. Basically, this is the central connection of your home to the nearest power grid in your area. It is located in the utility room or garage of a home. This is needed to properly distribute the electricity to various parts of your home through fuses or breakers. These help regulate how much electricity is sent to specific areas.
There are three different types of the electrical panel.
First is the main breaker panel that has a built-in breaker. This allows you to shut off all the power in your home. This is a double-pole circuit breaker that can identify the capacity of the circuits within the panel and at the same time, protects the said circuits from overloading.
The second type if the main lug panel. This does not have a main breaker. Instead, it has a lot of line wires that go to lugs. There are main lug panels that are equipped with a shut-off system. This is either connected to the breaker or the meter.
Finally, you have the transfer switches. This allows you to have more than one circuit in the same area. This allows you to install sub-panels that are powered from the main panel. The transfer switch allows you to have alternate power sources – which is great for places where frequent storms happen. In case the main power is cut off, you have the option to switch to an alternate source – like a generator. There are manual transfer switches but there are those that will automatically switch when the usual power source is cut off.
Signs you need to upgrade your electrical panel
Upgrading your electrical panel when it is needed is important because failing to do so can compromise the electricity in your home. Not only that, a faulty panel might cause accidents like electrical fires, etc. It might also cause power surges that can damage some of the electrical appliances and devices that are plugged all over your house.
That being said, here are the important signs that you need to replace your electrical panel.
- If your home is more than 20 years already, you might need to check if your breaker panel needs upgrading.
- If it is still using fuses, that means you have an old panel. You need to replace it with one that has breaker switches.
- If the fuse or breakers are always tripping even if there is no reported fluctuations or power surges from the power grid, that might mean your panel is malfunctioning.
- If you are using a lot of extension cords or power strips, that means you increased your electrical load. And if you recently bought appliances that are constantly being used, that might have increased the electrical load of the house. The same is true if your lights flicker when you turn on appliances.
- If you touch it and it feels warm, that may be caused by a failing panel.
- If there is a weird smell coming from the electrical panel, there might be something wrong inside. You need to call a professional immediately to check it out and have it changed.
- If you are renovating your house to make it bigger, it might be time to upgrade your breaker panel.
These are the common signs that you need to know if you want to upgrade your electrical panel when it is necessary.
Can you do the upgrade yourself?
Yes, you can. However, there are states that will require you to get a permit to do so. This is not something that you can read a DIY manual and do yourself easily. It is tricky and dangerous if you do not know what you are doing. One mistake and you can start a fire or you could be electrocuted so bad that it will land you in the hospital – or worse!
This upgrade requires more than just replacing an old panel. You might need to add a breaker or a switch to accommodate the whole electrical load that your house needs. There might be times when you will also need additional cables, wires, or even outlets throughout your home. An experienced and licensed electrician can identify these easily.
In case you are not confident about your knowledge of electrical panels, you need to leave it in the hands of a professional. They can also educate you of new regulations that you might not be aware of. Considering all the things that you could go wrong if you force to do this yourself, paying for an electrician to upgrade your electrical panel will seem like a very good investment.
If you’d like to upgrade your electrical panel, or you’re not sure if you should, contact us to set up an appointment.