How Much Does it Cost to Upgrade an Electrical Panel?
Modern life is all about electronics, yet many of our homes were built far before the "technological revolution" and therefore struggle to provide the power we need to live life in the 21st century. An electrical panel upgrade, however, can rocket your home into modern times by providing the additional amps and circuits needed for living your life.
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National Electrical Wiring or Panel Upgrade Costs
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Table of Contents
- Electric Panel Upgrade Cost
- Why Upgrade An Electrical Panel
- Electric Panel Upgrade Cost Factors
- Advantages of Electric Panel Upgrades
- Disadvantages of Electric Panel Upgrades
- DIY or Hire A Pro?
- Find A Pro
Electric Panel Upgrade Cost
The average homeowner reports paying a range between approximately $580 and $1,550 for an electrical panel upgrade, with an average cost of $1,070. While there’s a number of factors that influence the final price, including the size of your panel and the age of your home, for the most part, the low end of these numbers represents the cost for materials only (DIY projects) and the higher end includes the cost of a professional electrician and the resulting labor fees.
Why Upgrade An Electrical Panel
Sometimes the need for an electrical panel upgrade may simply be convenience-based. Modern appliances are more plentiful than those from the mid-20th century, and you tend to run more of them more often. Trying to, for example, run a washing machine and clothes dryer at the same time may be impossible in an older house that gets fewer than 100 amps of electrical service.
On the other hand, an old electrical panel may actually cause a hazard as well. For example, old panels may corrode or overheat, causing a fire or damage to your internal wiring. Or, they may lack a main breaker. In addition, appliances may run on less-than-full power, decreasing their efficiency. Signs that you may need to upgrade your electrical panel may include frequently blown fuses, crackling sounds from your current panel box, the need for an abundance of surge protectors or a lack of grounded (GFCI) outlets in areas like the kitchen and bathroom.
Electric Panel Upgrade Cost Factors
There are two main components that influence the cost of an electrical panel upgrade: materials and professional labor. On average, a professional electrician needs about 10 hours to upgrade a panel at a rate of $50 to $80 per hour. Materials, on the other hand, can range from $300 to $500 depending on factors such as the size of your panel and the number of breakers and fastenings needed in your home. Finally, special circumstances such as an older home with faulty wiring or unforeseen barriers such as damaged interior circuits and outlets, as well as permits and other local fees, all increase both time and material costs.
Advantages of Electric Panel Upgrades
In the modern era where electronics aren’t just a luxury but a way of life, upgrading an electrical panel to handle that extra load adds both function and value to your home. Homes from as late as the 1980s may not provide sufficient power to run modern devices, which should be a minimum of 100 amps — though most modern homes have a need for 200 amps.
Electrical panel upgrades can also make your home safer, adding in critical elements like a main breaker and fixing problems at the circuit and outlet levels. This is particularly important in older or historic homes where electricity was added after initial construction. Many modern materials are much more durable and provide a greater degree of safety than those of even 50 years ago.
Disadvantages of Electric Panel Upgrades
Once it’s complete, there’s really no disadvantage to an upgraded home electrical system. However, the cost of the project and the disruption to your life that it can create aren’t always easy to handle. For example, in order to work on the main electrical system of your home, you need to have the electric company completely cut off service. This means you can’t use any electrical elements in your home, including lights, for the duration of the work. Plus, you need to wait on the electric company's availability to have service restored.
DIY or Hire A Pro?
If you feel comfortable working with electrical systems, it’s possible to replace your electrical panel as a DIY project, especially because no specialized tools are needed for the panel replacement itself. However, there’s a number of skills that you need in order to complete this project safely and within a reasonable timeframe. Failure to properly connect the panel, for example, will cut off power to certain areas of your home. Furthermore, failure to properly ground and insulate wires and connections poses a fire hazard that may compromise the value of this upgrade. Also, note that for an experienced professional, this project takes an average of 10 hours. Make sure you have enough time budgeted to complete the project and also have provisions in place for the lack of power in your home during the entire process.
Any homeowner considering a full electrical panel upgrade as a DIY project should start by reviewing basic videos, such as the one below, that outline this job and display the complexity of some steps. In essence, unless you have the time and confidence to do it yourself, this is a job that’s really best left to a licensed electrician in terms of both time and safety considerations.
Find A Pro
Upgrading your home's electrical panel is an easy way to enhance your daily life as well as add value to your home that lasts into the future. But, because of the detailed nature and safety issues that come along with this type of work, hiring a professional electrician is often the best route. To get started today by connecting with pros in your area, head on over to our free lead generator to fill out your details and contact information.
Last updated on Sep 29, 2016
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