Electrical Panel Upgrade-What You Need to Know

Is It Time to Replace Your Electric Panel?

Your electrical panel is the heart or central hub of your homes electrical system. It's responsible for controlling all your circuits. It’s crucial to be aware of the signs that indicate you need an electrical panel upgrade or replacement. Running your home off an insufficient panel is a serious safety risk to your home itself and everyone who resides there.

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Here’s what to look for when considering an electrical panel upgrade:

Your control panel is 25 years or older

Your panel is overheating

Your panel smells like its burning

Breakers are constantly tripping

Strange noises are coming from panel

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How old is your electric panel?

Older electrical panels typically have a difficult time keeping up with the demands of newer and larger appliances in the home. Electrical panels aren’t built to last forever and they on average only have a life span of about 25 years. When you factor in the age of your panel in addition to any new upgraded appliances, you need to keep in mind that this is putting immense stress on your aging panel and it's probably time for an electrical panel upgrade.

How hot is too hot?

Your control panel is the heart or central hub of your home. The control panel not only allows you to turn circuits on and off, but it also prevents excessive amounts of electricity to build up. It’s important to note that your control panel should be about as warm as any other appliance in your home that draws constant power like your fridge for example. Why is this? When electricity runs through the wires that are installed in your home it leads back to the control panel. When the electricity is drawn into the wires it will meet some resistance. This is why electronics and appliances that draw constant power will feel warm to the touch. However, when your panel is overheating it will try to protect itself by tripping that specific circuit, forcing it to shut down. Your control panel may be warm but it should never be overheating. If it is, we recommend calling an experienced electrician out immediately for an electrical panel upgrade.

What's that smell?

A burning smell from your control panel could mean your circuit breaker is overheating or a wire’s insulation is burning. Both of these problems are serious and could lead to an electrical fire. You should take immediate action by following the steps below if you’re experiencing these issues.

1.) turn off any important electrical appliances in your home before you cut power to protect them.
2.) Turn off the power to your circuit breaker.
3.) Call an electrician.

If you’re smelling something burning it’s a good indication that your panel is no longer working properly and an electrical panel upgrade is of the upmost importance. Your control panel has a safety mechanism which is designed to “trip” when it is being overloaded to stop the flow of electricity to prevent a fire. A defective circuit breaker incapable of tripping poses an increased risk of an electrical fire.

Honey, the breaker tripped again, we need a panel upgrade

The most common cause of a tripped circuit breaker is an overload in that circuit. Each circuit is only intended to carry a certain electrical load. If it exceeds that load your circuit breaker will trip. Some appliances in your home will have a dedicated circuit for things like your stove or dryer. If you’ve upgraded your appliances and your circuit breakers are continuously tripping it’s likely that you need to have an electrician come out to do an electrical panel upgrade. It's necessary to make up for the additional load on your electrical panel caused by your new appliances. Continually overloading a circuit can cause the wires to heat up thus posing a fire risk.

Do you hear that?

Its normal for your electrical panel to produce a gentle humming noise when your next to it. A slight hum is typical and circuit breakers will often produce a humming noise from the vibration of electrical currents. A cause for concern starts when that hum becomes loud enough to hear it when you’re a couple feet away or when that light and gentle hum has turned into a buzzing. The loud hum or buzzing may indicate that a circuit breaker didn’t trip when it should have. The unregulated flow of current now poses a safety risk and it’s best to call your local electrician to inspect it and perform an electrical panel upgrade.

Let us help with your electrical panel upgrade

If your panel is older than 25 years and you’ve been experiencing any of the problems discussed above then it’s best to call a professional to do an electrical panel upgrade or complete replacement. It's best not to wait with matters such as these. If you’re not sure if it’s time for an electrical panel upgrade then please schedule a service call with one of our experienced electricians to ensure everything is in working order.

Federal Income Tax Credits and Incentives for Energy Efficiency

According to the inflation reduction act of 2022, savings for home owners in the form of tax credits are available through 2032 providing up to $3,200 annually to lower the cost of energy efficient home upgrades by up to 30%. This tax credit will cover improvements such as installing heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, insulation, doors and windows, qualifying electrical panel upgrades, home energy audits, and more.

How will my electrical panel be covered under this tax credit?

According to EnergyStar.gov
“Any improvement to, or replacement of, a panelboard, sub-panelboard, branch circuits, or feeders which:
1. is installed in a manner consistent with the National Electric Code,
2. has a load capacity of not less than 200 amps,
3. is installed in conjunction with, and enables the installation and use of:
• any qualified energy efficiency improvements, or
• any qualified energy property (heat pump water heater, heat pump, central air conditioner, water heater, furnace or hot water boiler, biomass stove or boiler)”