Do I Need an Electrical Panel Upgrade in My Home?

electrical panel electrician circuit breakers

Your home’s electrical panel, often referred to as a breaker box, plays a crucial role in a home’s electrical system. It serves as the central hub for distributing power throughout the home. Receiving electricity from your utility company, the electrical panel will direct it to different circuits, providing power to outlets, appliances, and light fixtures.

This essential component of your home protects circuits in order to prevent electrical fires in the event of an overload or short circuit. It’s safe to say that the electrical panel in your home is critical to control electricity and keep your home and family safe from any electrical hazards.

Considering the importance of the role your electrical panel plays, it’s essential to know when it’s time to upgrade your electrical panel.

5 Signs Your Electrical Panel Needs an Upgrade

Dealing with an outdated or malfunctioning electrical panel can pose many dangers to your home. Here are some signs that your electrical panel could use an upgrade:

1. Circuit Breaker Is Tripping Frequently

Though tripping circuit breakers can be frustrating, they only do so to keep you safe. When a circuit breaker senses that a circuit is drawing too much power, it will trip automatically, shutting off power to the circuit to avoid a potential overload. 

Overloading your electric panel will cause trips in your circuit breaker. When this happens, you can flip the breaker back on to allow for power to that circuit again. If this becomes a routine, then it’s likely time to upgrade to an electrical panel that can match the amount of electricity needed for your home. 

2. Flickering or Dimming Lights

Flickering or dimming lights in the home can indicate loose connections within your electrical panel or could be due to an overloaded circuit. Either way, the electrical panel is not working to its full capacity, which can pose safety risks. It’s best to call an electrician if this occurrence is becoming apparent in your home.

3. Buzzing Sounds or Burning Odors

One should only be able to hear a slight humming coming from their electrical panel, as circuit breakers can function almost silently. If you start to hear a loud buzzing, this is an indication that a circuit breaker has stopped working properly. 

If you smell something burning around your electrical panel, this can be a serious cause for concern. If not addressed properly, the burning smell can quickly lead to a house fire. If you smell burning plastic, it’s likely the plastic casing of an electrical wire melting. Contact a local electrician immediately.

4. Insufficient Panel Capacity

Your electrical panel may not have enough available circuits or the overall capacity to handle the electrical load of your home. This situation can lead to various issues, and upgrading your electrical panel becomes necessary to continue using all of your desired electrical appliances.

5. Outdated Fuse Box

Outdated fuse boxes use fuses as protective devices. While fuses serve the purpose of protecting circuits, they are less convenient than circuit breakers. Fuses have to be replaced when they blow, whereas circuit breakers can easily be reset. Additionally, finding replacement fuses for older systems may become more challenging over time.

Benefits of an Electrical Panel Upgrade

Upgrading your electrical panel in the home comes with many benefits. Here are just a few:

Increases Electrical Capacity 

The best way to increase the electrical capacity of your home is by installing a panel with a higher ampacity. Older homes may have electrical panels with lower amp ratings, such as 60 amps or 100 amps. Upgrading your electrical panel to 200 amps or more can be beneficial for the higher electrical needs of a modern lifestyle.

Accommodates Modern Technology

If you plan on adding new appliances, electronics, or other power-hungry devices to your home, upgrading the electrical panel ensures that your electrical system can handle the increased demand without overloading the circuits.

Enhances Safety Features

Modern electrical panels contain newer, advanced safety features, such as arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) and ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). These features not only improve safety but also contribute to the overall efficiency and reliability of your electrical system.

Increases Energy Efficiency

Replacing your electric panel with a more modern model can reduce energy waste, maintain the functionality of other energy-efficient technologies, like smart thermostats and EV charging stations, and reduce the overall maintenance and downtime of your electrical system. This all allows for increased energy efficiency. 

There are many serious risks involved with replacing an electrical panel yourself, and in most states, it’s illegal without the required permit. While some maintenance problems around the home appear to be an easy DIY fix, you never know what could happen if something goes wrong. The expertise of a licensed electrician who will take all necessary safety measures is required when replacing an electrical panel. 

Blake Brothers aims to provide Huntsville with the finest team of electricians and the highest-quality services in the area. With decades of experience under our belts, we are proud to bring reliable residential, commercial, and auto electrical services to the Huntsville area. Contact us online or call us today at (256) 377-6806.