Knowing When to Upgrade Your Circuit Breaker Panel

Knowing when it is time to upgrade electrical power in your house is important for safety. If you are using more power than you did in the past, or are adding new appliances or an addition to your space, call a qualified electrician to assess your electrical needs. If you know you have an older circuit breaker panel, it will only have an amperage of around 60 amps. A modern panel can have 200 amps or more. The average home today needs more than 60 amps to function properly.

Common Signs Your Circuit Breaker Panel Needs an Upgrade

  • Breakers are tripping more often
  • Circuit breakers will not remain reset
  • Burning smells from the panel

An electrician will obtain the permit needed to update your panel safely and make sure the proper building inspection is completed once the work is done. According to Home Advisor, most homeowners spend between $560 to up to $1,600 to upgrade their electrical panel.

The electrician will open the panel to learn which circuits control the different parts of your home. They will assess the capacity of the circuit breakers with a multimeter or voltmeter. Turning on all power and scanning to see how the circuit load compares to its capacity. If it is near the limit, it’s time to upgrade.

Circuits that are under strain need to be divided into different parts to prevent overheating. If the panel can handle additional circuits being added, your electrician will do this. Otherwise, a new panel will need to be installed.

Safety is essential when working with electricity. Never attempt to work on wiring that comes from your power lines before it goes through your circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If you’re working on an electrical project in your home, turn off power for that area of the house to avoid electrocution. Don’t use a metal ladder to reach the wiring. Also, just to be sure, test for live wires with a multimeter or voltmeter before working.

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