Electrical Panel Upgrade Guide: Do You Need An Upgrade?

Feb 15, 2024

Your electrical panel is the heart of your home, but as with anything, electrical panels were not built to last forever. Over time, they can start to show signs of wear and tear which can result in flickering lights or other electrical hazards. While it’s recommended to get your panel to be inspected every few years, when is it time to upgrade your electrical panel?

Here at AJ’s Electrical we’ve upgraded countless electrical panels and have listed some of the most common signs that yours needs an upgrade. 


What Does an Electrical Panel Do?

An electrical panel is like the switchboard for all the electricity in your home. It receives the incoming power from the utility company and then proceeds to distribute it to each individual circuit throughout your home. This includes all lights, outlets, appliances and other devices. An electrical panel is designed to prevent overload that could cause house fires. 


Signs To Upgrade Your Electrical Panel


It’s From the Original Build

Generally speaking, electrical panels are built to last for 25 to 40 years. If your current electrical panel is original to your home and fits in this age range, then it might be time to consider an upgrade. 

Older electrical panels were not designed with the technological advances of today in mind. With the luxuries that technology can offer us now, there is an increase in power needed from the electrical panel. Additions such as space heaters, air conditioners, air purifiers and even extra lighting fixtures will add more load onto the panel, forcing a panel replacement.

While the panel may not be displaying signs of slowing down or struggling to power your home properly, it is always beneficial to have it inspected by a professional electrician. This way you can find any signs of wear and tear while getting an expert opinion on the status of your electrical panel and advice on the best course of action.


Constantly Flipping Breakers

Circuit breakers trip as a result of an overloaded circuit; meaning that it is trying to draw more power than it is designed to carry. It’s normal for circuits to trip from time to time and to reset this, you’ll need to flip the affected breaker. If you find yourself flipping breakers consistently then it might indicate a problem with the panel itself. 

This might also indicate a specific room is drawing more power than it was designed for because of additional appliances. For example, when you add a dishwasher to your kitchen or a deep freezer in your basement, the current panel may need more juice to keep everything running. A professional electrician will be able to assess whether or not the amps in your panel match the home’s demands – if they don’t align, it may be time to upgrade to a higher-power panel.


Your Panel is Too Old-Schooled

If you often find yourself switching out a fuse instead of flipping a breaker then this one’s for you. 

Only homes built before 1960 were built with fuse panels. If your house was a fuse box, that’s an indication that it is at least 60 years old – which is far past the designed life span. Due to wear and tear, fuse panels would now be a fire hazard and should be replaced with an electrical panel. 


Signs of Rust

Rust indicates that there is water nearby as is a type of corrosion that occurs on metal surfaces when iron reacts with oxygen and water. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity and can increase the flow of electrical current, leading to electric shock or electrocution. If you spot rust on your electrical panel, avoid touching it and immediately call an electrician.


Not Enough Outlets

If you find yourself always reaching for a power strip to compensate for a lack of electrical outlets in a room or even throughout your home, then it might be time to get an electrical panel upgrade. Upon inspection, an electrician can install additional outlets, but only if your panel can handle the addition of circuits. 

It’s easy to add one or two additional outlets to a room, but if you need additional outlets throughout your whole home then your electrical panel may not be able to handle it. If that’s the case then an upgrade would be your best option. 


Fluctuation in Lighting When Appliances Turn On

Have you noticed that your lights dim or flicker when you turn on a new appliance? This is a sign that there is too much power being drawn from a single circuit to properly distribute electricity to all the other appliances. If this is the case, a replacement to an upgraded panel is your best bet. This will ensure that your circuit is able to accommodate all appliances without sacrificing power to others. 


Electric Vehicle / EV Charger Addition

As a conserted shift towards electric vehicles, we must take into consideration that many homes were not built to accommodate this extra power usage needed to charge them. EV chargers require homes to have a minimum of a 200 AMP panel, something that most homes don’t start with. 

If you plan on purchasing an electric vehicle your electrical panel will most likely need an upgrade to handle more juice. A licensed electrician will be able to install your home EV charging station safely and efficiently. 

While these are some warning signs that you may need an electrical panel upgrade, it’s also recommended that you upgrade your panel if you are remodeling your home, since rooms now will have different power demands and typically will need power increases.

The average electrical panel upgrade, on average, can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000. While this might seem expensive up-front, it is far cheaper than having to repair damages caused by an electrical fire. Protecting your home and family from electrical hazards is worth any price.

Whether you’re sure that your electrical panel needs an upgrade or not, it is always beneficial to contact an electrician to get the advice of a professional. 


Here at AJ’s Electrical, we have over 60 years of combined experience, with qualified technicians who are honest, courteous and reliable. Your safety and satisfaction are our top priority as we are committed to delivering top-notch electrical services. 

To request a free estimate, contact us today!


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If you are looking to contact an Electrician in the Lower Mainland then please call 604-946-8946 or complete our online request form.

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