Signs You Need an Electrical Panel Upgrade

Posted On: April 20, 2021
Electrical engineer using digital multi-meter measuring equipment to checking electric current voltage at circuit breaker

It’s rarely something most homeowners think about until they have problems, but your electrical panel, like any other part of your home, can degrade over time, fall behind the latest technology, or prove a limitation on other forms of home improvement. Today, we’ll look at some of the most common signs you need a panel upgrade in the near future.

Why Would You Need to Upgrade or Replace Your Electrical Panel?

As the point at which incoming electrical current becomes the various circuits of your home electrical system, there’s a lot of that depends on your electrical panel being in good shape—and countless reasons you might need to upgrade or replace your existing panel to meet proper standards of function and safety.

Can’t meet your current or future electrical needs

The most common sign an upgrade is in the future is an electrical panel that simply cannot meet your electrical needs, or the needs you’ll have in the near future. This can mean a panel that needs a “heavy up” to a higher amp service to fuel high-power appliances, or simply a panel that doesn’t have enough circuits to safely and effectively serve your home; maybe it’s currently overloaded, or maybe you have expansions in mind.

Visible wear and tear

If you see any visible damage or corrosion on your electrical panel, you need to replace it as soon as possible—probably with an upgrade instead of a simple replacement, depending on what exactly led to it wearing out.

Still uses fuses

If your panel is old enough—really old, these days—it may still be using fuses instead of breakers. Where breakers are reusable switches you can simply flip back on in the majority of cases to reconnect the circuit, fuses are very thin pieces of metal that melt to break the circuit. Not only are these old fuse systems less convenient than modern systems, their age also makes them less reliable and safe.

Lacks a main shut-off breaker

A modern electrical service panel should have a main shut-off breaker so you can cut power to your entire home at a single point, in case of emergencies or when working on electrical systems. This is an important feature for safety and convenience.

Sub-panels

If your home electrical system is a kludged-together mess of subpanels connecting to an aging primary panel, you’ll often be better served with an updated primary panel that can organize your electrical circuits without the added complexity, inconvenience, and risk of multiple panels.

Outdated technology or wiring

Even if your panel isn’t using fuses and has a main shut-off breaker, it may still be full of old technology or old wiring in dire need of upgrade. It depends on any number of factors, as some panels and wiring will have aged better than others.

Heat, humming, buzzing, or light problems

These signs can indicate more general electrical problems, but often those problems tie back to your panel; even if it’s not the source of the problem, it often will show wear from the root problem that will necessitate upgrades.

Frequent breaker trips

If your breakers trip all the time and it’s not for any good reason stemming from outside of the panel box, it might be time for a panel upgrade. Of course, it’s crucial that you confirm the problem is the panel box and not some undiagnosed electrical problem elsewhere, for safety.

Learn More About Electrical Panel Upgrades

If one or more of these signs you need an upgrade stands out to you, then it’s best to start considering your options (and making sure there aren’t other electrical problems at work in your home). If you’re in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Genz-Ryan Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical for help and insight.

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