Electrical Panel Upgrade: An Overview For Homeowners

electric panel

Everything you need to know about electrical panel upgrades.

What is an electrical panel upgrade?

An electrical panel upgrade is where a combination of panel wiring, breakers, or fuses are replaced. This replacement results in increased energy management efficiency of your home. This process is often referred to as a "Main Panel Upgrade" (MPU).

Your home's main electrical panel is the heart of the entire electrical system of your home. All electrical activity will pass through the panel. Electrical panels have a long lifespan, typically lasting between 25 and 40 years. But a significant change in energy load like solar or home add-ons may require an upgraded panel.

In this article we'll cover:

1) When you need an electric panel upgrade

2) Why upgrade your electrical panel?

3) Upgrading your electrical panel

4) Cost estimates around panel upgrades

5) Electrical Panel Solar considerations

6) Smart panel considerations

When should I upgrade my electrical panel?

You should consider an electric panel replacement or upgrade if your panel:

1) Is older than 25 years old

2) no longer approved by local jurisdiction

3) Requires frequent circuit breaker fuse box flips

4) Is warm to the touch

5) Is lacking needed breakers spaces

Or if your home:

6) Has flickering or dim lights

7) Buzzing or crackling sounds when lights are on

8) Has an upcoming remodel

9) Has solar being installed

These signs point to calling a local electrician. An electrical panel upgrade may not be the required fix. But these signs all point to the panel needing an upgrade.

Why Upgrade the Electrical Panel?

An old or inefficient electrical panel won't be able to supply power to new appliances. New appliances, HVAC, and even solar panels all require significant electrical panel capacity. Plus, newer electrical panels are safer and more energy efficient.

Upgrading your electrical panel will resolve the problems mentioned in the previous section.

But even if you're not experiencing any of those problems, new installations onto the home (rooms, basements, or solar) may require a panel upgrade.

In these cases, the existing panel may be working just fine. But it wasn't built to handle the additional energy load that the installation will produce.

Upgrading Your Electrical Panel

Here we'll cover everything you need to know about upgrading the panel.

Can you upgrade your own electrical panel?

We strongly recommend working with an electrician to upgrade your electrical 

panel. If you fit that bill, then by all means, do it yourself. But if not, the panel upgrade can be costly, and dangerous (electrocution, electrical fire, etc.), if done incorrectly.

Does electrical panel upgrade require a permit?

Increasing the capacity or bandwidth of your electrical panel will typically require a city permit. A replacement of your panel will usually require one as well.

This is another reason working with a certified electrician is recommended.

How long does it take to upgrade my electrical panel?

How long it takes to upgrade your electrical panel will depend heavily on the upgrade. But a typical electrical panel replacement will take 8 hours with a 2 man crew.

How much does it cost to upgrade your electrical panel?

Exactly how much your electrical panel upgrade costs will depend on what work is being done. A typical panel upgrade will cost between $850 and $2,500, but will be unique to your situation.

If you're curious on what it will cost for your project, give us a call! We can get you a custom quote.

Electrical panel upgrades for solar and batteries

One of the most common reasons for needing an electrical panel upgrade is the installation of solar or batteries. Both solar and home batteries will increase the power load your breaker panel experiences.

The cost of the electrical panel upgrade, when installed in conjunction with solar, can typically be included in your solar tax credit. This means that upgrading your panel alongside your solar installation is a cost-saving option!

Smart panel options

The electrical panel has remained largely unchanged for many years. But recently new smart electrical panels have entered the market! These smart panels allow for custom load management, energy planning, reporting, and more. Smart panels are an excellent option for your consideration.

Work with the experts for your electrical panel upgrade

If you think you need a new electrical panel, or you're considering a new solar or battery installation, give the experts at SolarUnion a call!