Panel upgrades aren’t simple or inexpensive, but in a lot of cases, they’re highly necessary for safety, efficiency, and effectiveness. If you don’t have the right amount of power running through your house, it can seriously limit your comfort and even cause safety concerns.
What Is an Electrical Panel?
Your electrical panel is the point of connection between the power entering your home from outside and the power being used throughout your home. It pulls electricity in and distributes it to all your various switches and outlets.
Panels have individual circuits, which each send power to various places in your home. When a circuit “trips,” it’s because there was too much power being drawn through that one circuit (like when you have a few appliances on and then you turn on the hairdryer). The circuit trips as a safety mechanism.
If you aren’t sure about your breaker’s current capabilities, you can check it by looking for a tag or sticker that tells you. Your panel is usually found in your basement, utility room, or garage. The panel is where you go to flip breakers on and off if you’ve tripped one.
The Benefits of Upgrading to 200 Amp Service
Many homeowners in Edmonton call Polar Electric to ask about whether it’s time for them to upgrade to 200 amp service. There are always benefits to upgrading.
Upgrading your panel can:
- Reduce power surges, extending the lifespan of your devices
- Run your panel more efficiently, saving you money on utility bills
- Reduce your home insurance premiums because it’s safer
- Prevent electrical fires in your home by reducing overcrowded breakers
- Boost the value of your home for resale
The reasons for upgrading fall into a few categories. The panel might be of inferior quality, aging, or just outdated and unable to handle modern power needs. Outdated technology and broken components are two other reasons you might need a change-out.
However, it’s hard to know when the right time is. Here are some reasons you might want to put your panel upgrade at the front of your home improvement list.
10 Signs You Should Upgrade Your Panel
If Your Main Breaker Won’t Stay On
This is the most typical reason Polar Electric gets called to a home to service or change out an electrical panel. If your main breaker is constantly overloaded, it’s well past time to upgrade.
If You Just Bought New Appliances
Modern appliances draw far more power than outdated ones from a decade or two ago. When you add these in without upgrading your panel, you risk overloading circuits.
If You Just Installed a Hot Tub or Air Conditioner
Sure, air conditioners and hot tubs count as an appliance, as mentioned in the point above, but they’re also a class all of their own because they pull so much electricity. If you don’t upgrade before getting these appliances installed, your circuit breakers might keep tripping. Home renovations that add extra rooms might have the same effect.
If Your Home is Aging
If your home is aging, you’re far more likely to need a panel upgrade. Older panels simply were not built for modern applications and appliances. If your home is more than 30 years old, it’s probably time to start thinking about your upgrade. Some older homes may have 60 amp or 100 amp panels, and these should be upgraded as soon as possible to 200 amps.
If Your Home Still Has a Fuse Box
Older homes may also have fuse boxes, which are less efficient than circuit breakers. Fuses are one-time uses, which means they melt when electrical currents are too high and then have to be replaced. Therefore, it can save you electrical repairs in the future.
Fuse boxes are also dangerous, as they can potentially start electrical fires, which is one of the main reasons they’re no longer used. That’s mostly because they were designed for 30-60 amps, and most modern electronics draw 100-200 amps or more.
If Your Lights are Flickering
One of the benefits of panel replacements is the smoother flow of electricity to your outlets. This keeps light more steady and prevents flickering lights.
If you’ve noticed your lights flickering or your appliances not working consistently, this is a good indication that your power isn’t flowing well. You may need to add a circuit, or you could need a full upgrade.
If You Get Small Electrical Shocks
Sometimes small electrical shocks when you touch a light switch or appliance can indicate that your panel needs to be upgraded.
If There’s Warmth Around Your Panel
If your panel is warm to the touch or the air around it is warm, it’s a good sign it’s working overloaded and needs to be replaced. Similarly, if there’s a burning smell near your panel, be sure to call an electrician sooner rather than later.
If You’re Using Power Strips or Extension Cords
If you find that you’re using power strips and extension cords as permanent solutions, it indicates your electrical system wasn’t built for modern uses. Call an electrician out to assess your outlets, circuits, and overall power supply.
If You’re Planning on Selling Your Home
Panel upgrades don’t have to be completed often, but it’s usually recommended that they’re done once per generation. Buyers who are looking at houses may ask when the last upgrade was completed, and this could impact your selling price.
How Can I Upgrade My Service Panel?
Service panel upgrades required an expert electrician, plus all the right permits to make the changes. It can also be highly dangerous work if you aren’t familiar with electrical best practices. It’s always best to hire a professional electrician in Edmonton.
Polar Electric has performed hundreds of electrical panel upgrades in Edmonton. We can come out to assess your power needs, as well as seeing if there are more affordable options such as adding circuits or replacing other components.
Call us for all your service upgrade and emergency electrical needs!