Why Only An Electrician Should Do Electrical Panel Upgrades

Electrical Panel Upgrades

About Electrical Panel Upgrades

The electrical panel is the core of your electrical system. This is where your home receives electricity from the utility company. The power is then distributed throughout your entire home until every outlet and light has the power that it needs. As your home ages, your electrical service panel suffers normal “wear & tear.” It is likely that you have upgraded appliances and technology in your home over the past years

The panel is just like anything else in your home, it needs to be properly maintained. In the event of a fire, the first place an insurance adjuster checks is the panel. If it is not kept up properly, they will attempt to show negligence

The following items should be checked for compliance:

Non-approved breakers for your brand panel

Panels that are older than 5 years

Missing Breakers

Hot Spots

Over sizing of breakers versus wiring size

When should I upgrade my electrical panel?

When technology is modernized and panels are not, frequent outages are experienced. Old service panels simply cannot handle all the power now required. Overloaded wires can lead to deadly electrical shock. In order to help prevent this from happening, electrical panels are designed to tell whenever there is a problem with your electricity and cut off power to that circuit. Older electrical panels did this using fuses, while newer panels rely on circuit breakers.

There are two ways to determine if you are in need of a panel upgrade:

You live in a home that is over 20 years old and have outdated panels.

If you have (or want) more power requirements.

How To Know When It Is Time To Replace Your Home’s Electric Panel

Does My Home’s Electrical Service Panel Need to be Replaced?

We do a lot of work for realtors and home owners in Northampton and Lehigh Counties and from time to time we get asked; “When is it time to upgrade an electrical panel?” So, we thought we should share with you the following advice from our experience.

First, what IS your electrical panel?

The electrical service panel is the component of your house’s electrical system where the electricity is brought in to the house from your power company. The electrical wiring that runs throughout your home starts at the service panel and is used to separately feed the different areas and appliances at your home that require electricity.  Each separate wire leaving the panel and feeding your home is called a circuit.  This panel is like the “heart” of the electrical system of your entire home.  Like veins and arteries, any and all wiring going throughout the walls and ceilings of your home all originate at this location! Keeping this in mind, there are several reason it may be necessary to upgrade your electrical panel.

Do you have fuses of beakers?

If you live in a home built before 1960, you may have an electrical panel with fuses. Fuses are used to control and limit the power of the electricity leaving the panel through each individual circuit.  If any circuit calls for more power than that circuit is rated for, the fuse will “blow”, meaning it will automatically stop the flow of power at that circuit and as a result will then need to be replaced. This requires you to keep a few spares of the different fuses you have within your electrical panel.  If this is the type of panel you have in your home, it is probably time to upgrade to a new panel with what are called circuit breakers.

Does your electrical panel have enough power capacity for how you use your home?

With fuses, and even if your home has an electrical panel with circuit breakers you may want to check the power capacity of your electrical panel, called its ampacity. Many homes may have only a 60-amp or a 100-amp panel and that may not be powerful enough to handle many of the modern conveniences we have in today’s homes such as central air conditioning and modern appliances. If you are often blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers, maybe notice your lights dimming low and staying low, or a burning smell coming from the area around your electric panel, it is likely past time to upgrade your panel.

Replacing the electrical panel may not always be necessary

The right professional electrician can help you decide if your panel really needs to be replaced or upgraded.  For example, if you have expanded the size of your home, upgraded all your appliances, and or added something that has put an additional electrical load on your existing system you may not need to upgrade your electrical system!  This is where dealing with an electrical contractor known for integrity can save you money.  We have worked with customers in the past who did not need to update their system.  We did the calculations on their electrical load and found they were still within the safe range.


The breaker panel is the hub of your home’s electrical system. It’s smart. It sends power where needed and trips if it senses any trouble in your wires. You probably don’t even notice it unless something goes wrong. When your panel is correctly sized and in good working order, it can protect your home and electronics from fire or surge damage by tripping the breaker when it senses danger

Modern households have many more electronic devices than families had even ten years ago. If your panel has never been upgraded, you may want to make sure it adequate for your lifestyle. Entertainment systems, computer equipment, appliances and all kinds of personal electronics constantly use your power. An undersized electric panel can not support or protect your technology.


Breakers trip frequently.

Lights flicker or dim.

Overuse of extension cords or power strips inside your home.

Appliances don’t operate at full strength.

Discolored outlet covers.

Burning smells or crackling sounds near appliances.

You are planning a remodel or addition.

When you add a new appliance like a hot tub, A/C, or refrigerator to your home


Look for the brand name on your electrical panel. electrical panels are known to have a 60 to 80% failure rate. This means they seem to work just fine, but if a short circuit or a small surge occurs, the panels fail to trip the breaker and can cause a fire or damaging surge to your home. If you have one of these brands, it needs to be replaced


Older homes often have fuses instead of breaker panels. They protect your home by blowing a fuse and turning off your power when the fuse is overloaded. Unlike circuit breakers, a fuse needs to be replaced once it’s blown. The problem is that fuse boxes can handle 30-60 amps of power, but modern households typically need 100 or more amps. Sometimes people replace original fuses with bigger ones after they blow, but this can overload and overheat your wiring. If you have a fuse box, schedule a safety inspection to make sure it’s adequately handling the electrical load in your home.

Cost To Replace Circuit Breaker Box

The average cost to replace a breaker box is $1,475 with most homeowners spending between $1,287 and $1,707. A low-amp subpanel costs from $500 to $1,000 while a 200-amp panel upgrade runs up to $4,000. Total costs depend on the type of home, the number of circuits, and the amperage.

Our homes are using more energy than ever before, and the electrical system that was installed decades ago may not have the necessary capacity to handle the electrical load required of it today. To keep a house running smoothly, the proper rating of electrical panel can eliminate tripped circuit breakers and prevent fires.

Cost to Replace or Upgrade an Electrical Panel

The average cost to replace an electrical panel is $850 to $1,100 for 100 amps, or $1,200 to $1,600 is a new service panel is needed. To upgrade to 200 amps, expect to spend $1,300 to $2,500, or $2,000 to $4,000 to upgrade to 400 amps. A low-amp subpanel costs $500 to $1,000

Electrical panel replacement typically takes 8 to 10 hours which includes 200-amp capability, a new panel with main breaker and ten circuit breakers, labor, and all required materials. The biggest cost for most electrical work is labor. With an electrician’s hourly rates at $40 to $100/hour and with the first hour costing $75 to $120, you can expect to spend between $400 and $800 for labor costs.

Cost to Upgrade to 200-Amp Service Panel

The cost to upgrade an electrical panel to 200 amps is $1,300 $1,600, or between $1,800 and $2,500 if a new service panel is required. Installation costs depend on the labor required. New wires may need to be added or replaced, or if anything needs to be brought up to code.


Electrical Panels are the lifeline of your home, and usually last around 25 years. Maintaining your Electrical Panel is key to providing a safe living space. Upgrading your Electrical Panel prevents the potential danger of worn or old wiring, causing shorts in the circuit, losing power and danger of an electrical fire. We understand the importance of your home, and trust you consider our certified technicians to get the job done in a respectful and professional manner. From Electrical Panel Repair, to an upgrade, no job is too big or too small, we do it all.


For comfort and safety reasons, an electrical system for your home must be in sound operation. Faulty home electrical systems can cause serious disruptions in your home, such as certain electrical fixtures not working or even worse, fire hazards. Poor commercial electrical systems can lead to failing various inspections or loss of assets due to an electrical fire.