Did you know that there are nearly 350,000 residential fires annually? A residential electrical panel upgrade can prevent some of those fires caused by improper or faulty wiring.
New electrical panels help keep your home safe from power surges, overloaded circuits, and much more. Are you curious about upgrading your electrical panel in Baltimore, Maryland?
New home wiring may be on the bottom of your list of exciting upgrades, but there are actually plenty of benefits (and long-term savings). Luckily, we have outlined the signs of a poorly functioning electrical panel, the benefits of upgrading, and how you can get started today.
Don’t neglect your home’s electricity consumption—keep reading for more information!
What Is an Electrical Panel?
Before you opt for an electrical panel upgrade, it helps to know what it is and how it helps keep you and your family safe and comfortable. An electrical panel is your home’s heart and soul.
Also known as a breaker box or panel, it helps control the power in your home. Your electrical panel does it all, from lights turning on in the bedroom to using your microwave or heating a swimming pool!
As all your electricity passes through this simple box, you can imagine a few safety features are involved. Circuit breakers are your electrical panel’s safety net. If too much current tries to pass through, it will cut off the supply.
Essentially, this prevents appliances from breaking down or sparking electrical fires. Typically, most electrical panels also have a main switch. This can toggle on or off your home’s total electricity usage.
Common Electrical Panel Problems
Outdated systems can put your home at an increased risk for fires, electrocution, and damaged appliances. Older homes with fuse boxes or two-pronged receptacles should be immediately replaced.
These are outdated and dangerous. For example, two-pronged receptacles have been replaced with better grounding protection which prevents electrocution. Fuse boxes are no longer used compared to circuit breakers because they don’t offer adequate protection for modern homes.
Other common problems you may see are:
- No cover plates
- Exposed Romex cable
- Overloaded circuits (e.g., flickering lights, frequent breaker trips, sparks from plugs)
- Power surges
Power surges can happen within your home or from severe weather systems. When power surges occur, it can arrest your entire home’s system and damage electronics.
Residential Electrical Panel Upgrade
When you search for “upgrade residential electrical panel,” you will likely come across many experts suggesting that older homes are one of the main reasons you should consider upgrading.
If you live in an older home, you should talk to electrical contractors about upgrading. Other signs you may need to upgrade your panel are:
- Burning smells
- Loud sounds
- Frequent breaker trips
- Insufficient outlets
- The electrical panel door is warm to the touch
- Dim lights
- Adding new appliances
- Renovating or remodeling homes
You may think you can get it by using multiple extension cords. Avoiding installing enough outlets can still cause overloaded circuits and overheating.
Improper usage of extension cords is one factor that leads to house fires. Here are a few tips to ensure that you are using extension cords correctly:
- Do not use extension cords in substitution for proper wiring
- Do not run them through walls
- Do not use them for multiple appliances
- Do not plug two together
- Do not use a damaged or hot extension cord
Insufficient wiring can put your appliances at risk of not working correctly. Whenever you upgrade appliances or add to your house, call on an electrician to assess your electrical panel.
Assessing Electrical Panel Upgrade Needs
You may wonder how you can quickly determine your home’s electrical needs. Ultimately, a qualified electrician is your best source for accurate measurements.
Amperage helps indicate how many appliances you can have. For example, a 60-amperage box only powers one 240-volt appliance. A 100-amp electrical panel can power an AC unit and more than one 240-volt appliance.
You get the trend – the more amperage, the more appliances you can have.
Upgrade Electrical Panel 101
Have you tried searching: ‘upgrade residential electrical panel near me?’ You want a company that is close, reliable, and cost-friendly. Dealing with electricity issues yourself is dangerous and can often negate insurance or go against local codes.
You will often need a permit or an electrician’s license to complete this type of work. It is possible to change out individual breakers yourself, but even this simple fix can cause issues if not installed correctly.
Yet, most upgrades are for increasing amp service and electricity distribution. Two hundred amps are the most popular type today, and many homeowners decide to switch from 100 or 150 amps to 200 amps.
Larger homes may need a 250-amp service. Your electrical meter outside your home can give you a good idea of your electrical supply. You can also directly check your electrical panel and see the amperage rating.
Smaller breakers leading to lights and individual rooms will be between 15 and 30 amps. Larger appliances require up to 60 amps.
You may need a 250 amp system if you have multiple large appliances. You could also talk to your electrician about a subpanel.
Subpanels are used with a home addition or remodel. Typically, they serve an individual area of your house and are under 100 amps. They receive their electrical output from the main service panel, so you must first calculate your main electrical panel amperage.
Electricians upgrade an electrical panel through a few key steps, although the process itself is much more in-depth (which is another reason to leave it to the professionals):
- Stopping power supply
- Removing old wires
- Removing old panel
- Adding new panel and upgraded wiring
- Final power supply checks
Building inspectors are usually needed during this process for safety checks.
Cost To Upgrade Electrical Panel
On average, new electrical panels can cost as much as $4,000 or more. Smaller homes or upgrades can cost around $1,500. Remember that upgrading an electrical panel is one thing, but the cost can fluctuate based on:
- Where you live
- Labor costs
- Home size
- Additional upgrades
- And more
If you want to upgrade to LED or security lighting, that will raise your final cost. Inflation and supply shortages might also affect the total cost. Instead, ask about a quote beforehand, and don’t shortchange yourself to researching one company.
As a rule of thumb, 200-amp electrical panel upgrades will cost closer to $4,000. It is worth upgrading to a larger electrical panel unless you live in a small home.
Two hundred amps give you more flexibility and can help you add more circuits. If you swap out a few circuits, the cost will be much cheaper. With labor and installation, a single breaker switch can range between $150 and $250.
Main breakers will cost closer to $300. Are there ways you can lower this cost?
Unfortunately, there aren’t many ways to dance around reducing the price of a new electrical panel. Yet, you can save money down the road through regular electrical maintenance checks and calling the experts when you first notice problems.
Flickering or dimmed lights are easily neglected but are a tell-tale sign you might have an overloaded circuit. Frayed wiring and rusted metal boxes will add more costs, so try avoiding these high costs by addressing them when they first arise.
If properly taken care of, electrical panels can last you 25 years or longer.
You probably haven’t thought about how an electrical panel can save you money in the long run. Upgraded switches can accommodate dimmers, which saves on energy costs.
Upgraded electrical panels can also lower energy consumption and avoid electrical problems with larger appliances. Newer electrical wiring offers better insulation and protection to your appliances and electronics.
Pros and Cons of Upgrading Electrical Panel
After installing a new electrical panel, there are several benefits you can start noticing in your home. Have a qualified electrician also switch your home’s lighting to LED.
LED lights have better longevity and durability. In some instances, they can last up to twenty years!
They are also more energy-efficient and have lower maintenance costs, saving you money in the long term. If you are looking at selling your home in the future, LED lights are a must-have.
They can boost home value by nearly $20 per square foot. It can also reduce health risks and provide better illumination. LED lights are especially useful for security lighting or workshops since they hold brighter illumination than standard lights.
You will also be able to upgrade appliances, add new ones, or start a new home renovation! Newer electrical panels could reduce insurance costs and offer better power surge protection.
Yet, the most significant benefit of a new electrical panel is safety. Reduced fire risks and electrical hazards can give you peace of mind for yourself, your family, and your pets!
The main downside to an electrical panel upgrade is the high costs. Inflation has also created higher prices, with raw construction materials soaring nearly 20% last year.
It may cost more to upgrade your electrical panel now than in pre-pandemic times, but switching to more efficient wiring is worth it in the end.
Maryland’s Electrician Requirements
Maryland requires licensure to work as an electrician. You will either need a permit or licensure to complete substantial electrical work in your house.
There are three main licenses that Maryland distributes:
- Master license
- Journeyperson license
- Apprentice license
A master’s and journeyperson license requires extensive experience in electrical work from four to seven years. It is something you should inquire about when you reach out to local electrical contractors.
How To Find Qualified Electrical Contractors
Asking about licensure is one thing, but what else do you need to know before deciding on an electrical contractor?
- Read online reviews
- Ask about qualifications and experience
- Ask friends and family for recommendations
- Get more than two quotes
Money shouldn’t be the sole determinant in the company you choose. Instead, ask a few trustworthy companies to get an idea on an electrical panel quote.
From there, you can see what is within your budget. Electricians who throw a low-ball offer may perform shoddy work, which leads to long-term costs and repairs.
Preventative Maintenance Plans
Proactive electrical services can help keep your electrical panel and wiring functioning properly. At Rowbel Services, we offer 24/7 emergency electrical services.
We also provide proactive electrical plans where our skilled electricians take a look at:
- Power quality analysis
- Thermograph/infrared analysis
- Preventive maintenance
- Monitoring services
Monitoring services can alert you to overloads and other critical electrical problems. You don’t have to wait for problems to arise to upgrade some vital features in your home, such as:
- Appliance wiring
- Light fixture installations
- Outdoor lighting installation
- Switch or outlet installations
- Ceiling fan installations
- Pool wiring
Professional power services can help keep your home operating smoothly and give you peace of mind when emergencies happen. Burned wiring and power outages are two examples where the professionals at Rowbel Services can take a look and ensure that you and your family are safe.
Find Electrical Contractors Today
Have you wondered about a residential electrical panel upgrade for your home? Maybe you are tackling a remodel project, or you suddenly realize it’s been nearly two decades since you last had your electrical panel checked.
Your home’s main power supply deserves some much-needed attention to help your appliances, electronics, and lights function correctly. It also keeps you safe, prevents electrical fires, and can make your home more energy-efficient.
Are you ready to get started? Contact us today for a free estimate and let the experts at Rowbel Services help you with your residential electrical needs.