Electrical panels mostly last from two to four decades. It is likely that you may need to upgrade the panel before that. There are many reasons why you will have to consider upgrading your panel. This guide introduces you to the reasons for an upgrade and the points to be considered when upgrading.
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Reasons for Upgrading Electrical Panel
There are many reasons why you should consider upgrading the electrical panel. This includes the following reasons:
- Older Home: If your home is more than two decades old, you should consider upgrading. The reason is that older homes mostly have panels with maximum 100 amp limit. Modern equipment will need higher capacities to operate.
- Hot Panel: If you notice that the panel is getting heated often, you should consider an upgrade.
- Burning Smell: If there is a burning smell from the panel, you should get it checked.
- Frequent Tripping: If the panel emits a crackling sound or trips frequently, it may be time to replace it.
- Adding New Appliances: If you are adding new appliances or upgrading appliances, you may have to consider upgrading the panel as well to meet the required capacities.
- Flickering Lights: Do you have lights flickering or dimming often in your home? This may also happen when using appliances and is a sign that the panel needs upgrading.
If your appliances aren’t running at their optimal capacities or if you need to use add more wall outlets in your home, you should consider upgrading the electrical panel. This will be required to ensure that the appliances are supplied the required power for operation.
When considering an upgrade, you should start by getting a load calculation done by a certified electrician. Load calculation should be done before all kinds of home renovations or additions. Such projects are going to increase the total living space, which further increases the load capacity. It will give you an estimate of the required capacity of the panel.
Demand calculation estimate can help determine if there is a need for a panel replacement. It can also help your electrician determine if a complete service upgrade is required. In fact, the report of such calculation may also be required by local authorities for approval of permits for renovations or extensions. So if the demand doesn’t meet the panel capacity, it will be required to change the panel. The complete service panel may also need to be upgraded if it gets damaged or doesn’t adhere to the latest electrical standards.
There are even more reasons why a panel upgrade may be required. Sometimes an upgrade is required even when the service is in excellent condition. One example includes the need for additional circuits. Another example if there is a need for specialty breakers like AFCI or GFCI. Many existing panels cannot work with such breakers and need to be changed.
Electrical Panel Upgrade Process
When upgrading the panel, your electrician may also renew the grounding. This can include running new wires to the water meter. Else they may add an in-ground plate. Other steps involved can include bonding jumpers between the gas line, water line, sewer line or ductwork.
When it comes to upgrading the electrical panel, it is best to hire the services of an experienced and certified electrician. It is not a DIY project due to the risks involved. Besides, getting professionals to handle the upgrade can also save you time and money in the long run. Licensed and certified electricians go through extensive training to gain all the relevant knowledge and skills. They know the electrical codes and can ensure that the replacement is done right the first time.
Cory Magee is your trusted Master Red Seal Calgary electrician with over a decade of experience in Electrical Installations Calgary. As a founder and owner of Crew Electrical Services, he has set the benchmark for honest and ethical services along with co-founder Drew Lunham who is a Red Seal Electrician.