There are two main reasons to consider an electrical upgrade: it's unsafe, or it's not big enough for your current electrical demands. Either way, an upgrade is important to your family's safety and your home's integrity. An overloaded electrical system can lead to frequent tripped breakers, blown fuses, and potentially dangerous shocks or fires.
Signs That Your Electrical Service Is Insufficient
· Your appliances are running at less than full power.
- You need surge protectors to protect the appliances in your home.
· Your circuit breaker trips frequently.
· You frequently use extension cords and/or multi-plug strips.
· You have frequent brown-outs or your generator is working overtime.
Signs That Your Electrical Service Is Unsafe
· Your home uses a fuse block panel.
- Crackling sounds from your panel box.
- Corrosion or rust on the breakers or panel.
- Overheating electrical service conductors.
These warning signs indicate a real need for electrical improvements. Electrical upgrades are not something that a homeowner should tackle himself, this is a job that requires a licensed and experienced electrician.
Upgrading Your Service Panel
The electrical panel provides electricity to all of the electrical appliances in your home. Power from your utility company flows into your home through this panel and then branches out in order to distribute power.
The standard for household power used to be 60 amps. But modern homes may need as many as 200 amps to run air conditioners, computer equipment, high-definition televisions, and home automation devices.
The cost of upgrading a 60 amp electrical service panel to a 200-amp panel is between $800 to $3,000.
To handle increased electrical loads, you probably need to upgrade your electrical wiring as well, especially if your house is more than 35 years old. This is a big job that requires opening walls and makes a huge mess.
The price to rewire an average size home—including opening up walls, running new wires, connecting switches, outlets and fixtures, and then repairing the mess—is $3,500 to $8,000.
With a little bit of planning you can minimize the inconvenience, mess, and cost of rewiring your home. The best time to rewire is during a remodeling project when you will already be hiring an electrician, some walls will be open for easier access, and repairs and painting are part of the bigger job.
Make sure to consider all of your current needs and even future ones. With technology improving rapidly, you want to make sure that your wiring isn’t merely good enough for now, but will be able to handle increased load in the future. It would be a real shame to spring for an electrical upgrade that doesn't upgrade enough, so discuss this with your electrician to be sure you are on the same page.
Inspections and Regulations
All electrical work requires review by your local electrical inspector to make sure the upgrades conform to local electrical and building codes. Trying to save money by not getting the proper permits can cost you much more money in the long run. Unauthorized electrical work can lead to issues when reselling your home in the future, or worse, if you have a house fire your homeowners insurance could refuse to cover your loss because the work was done illegally!