The electrical panel is the box in your home that contains the circuit breakers, and is the location from where electrical current from the electric company gets distributed to the various circuits in your home. Upgrading or replacing electrical panels is often necessary in order to ensure safe and adequate electricity in your home. Have yours checked by a local electrician to make sure your electrical panel box is safe and within code. If it’s not, be sure to promptly get an estimate on the cost of replacing it.
Electrical panels have an amp capacity which is the total electrical usage the panel can handle. The capacity can be 100, 150, 200 or 400 amps. Depending on your electrical needs, you may want to upgrade an existing panel or install a completely new one.
A qualified electrical contractor usually charges between $800 and $1,200 to upgrade an existing panel to 100 amps. This will only occur in older homes, like in Philadelphia for example, because the current minimum requirement is 100 amps. If a new panel is needed, it will cost between $1,500 and $2,500. An upgrade to 200 amps typically costs from $1,300-$3,000, and an upgrade to 400 amps can cost up to $4,000.
Does a tripped breaker mean I need a new electrical panel?
Many people believe their circuit breaker or electrical panel is faulty because they experience a tripped breaker. Often, this is not the case. A breaker’s purpose is to protect the electrical circuits from damage caused by an overload or short circuit. When these occur, the circuit discontinues electrical flow, but the circuit breaker can be reset, either manually or automatically.
Testing a Faulty Breaker
To test for a faulty breaker, unplug all electrical devices and shut off all the lights. If the circuit breaker resets or you can reset it, the breaker is ok, and the electrical devices should be examined. If the breaker does not reset when everything is unplugged, an electrician should be called in and your breaker may need to be replaced.
To examine your electrical devices, with the breaker off, reconnect a single device. Once connected, turn on the breaker. If the circuit trips again, you have identified a faulty device and it should be examined by a professional.
Often large appliances, such as air conditioners, trip a circuit when being operated simultaneously with other appliances, and a professional HVAC contractor may need to be called in to reroute the air conditioner to a different circuit.
It’s important to know that in some cities it is illegal for anyone other than a licensed electrician to perform electrical work, and many home insurance policies do not cover damage as a result of non-licensed electrical work. Additionally, non-professional electrical work can lead to tragedy. Therefore, this and other electrical work should only be performed by a professional electrician.
Mark Stevens is a writer from New Jersey who has written over 100 home improvement articles. Want to ask Mark something? Send him a message.