Your home’s electrical panel – a.k.a. the fuse box or circuit breaker panel serves as the central distribution point for electricity throughout your home. Because of the increasing demands for electricity generated by modern life, it is important to ensure you choose an electrical service panel upgrade when your energy usage or demand requires.
The electrical service panel, which is usually found in the basement, garage, or utility room, is a crucial component of the property’s electrical system. Updating your home’s electrical panel is a smart and effective way to keep your home safe while meeting your family’s modern electrical usage demands.
Signs Your Electrical Service Panel Needs an Upgrade
The following are some of the common signs that are indicative that your electrical panel may need to be updated –
Your Current Electrical Panel is Outdated
If your electrical panel is old, damaged, or no longer compliant with local safety codes, it’s important to replace the panel as this ensures the safety of your home and occupants.
- Homes with an electrical panel that still uses fuses or has a limited number of circuits (e.g., < 100 AMPS) are outdated and should be replaced with a more modern, higher-capacity electrical panel with circuit breakers.
- Homes that still have aluminum wiring may require an electrical panel service upgrade because this type of wiring can become a fire hazard if improperly managed because aluminum wiring is more prone to creating electrical issues.
- If you have outlets that are not functioning correctly or are not grounded, it may be due to outdated wiring or an inadequate electrical panel.
The Circuit Breaker Trips Frequently
If your circuit breakers are constantly tripping and need to be reset too often, this could signal an electrical overload and evidence that the electrical panel is finding it challenging to meet your home’s electrical demands.
The Home’s Light Flicker & Dim
If lights in the house dim or flicker – when running more than one appliance or device, it could indicate that your current electrical supply is insufficient to meet demand, and you may need an electrical service panel upgrade.
Renovating or Adding New Appliances
If you plan to upgrade one of the home’s systems (i.e., HVAC, etc. ), renovate with an addition, or add more appliances and electronics to your existing electrical service panel, it may not have the capacity to handle the additional electrical load and require an upgrade.
Burning Smell/Scorch Marks
If you smell a burning odor or see scorch marks near/around the electrical service panel, it is a clear and visible sign that an electrical issue (like overheating) is possible and needs professional attention. Note that if the electrical service panel feels hot/warm to your touch, this also indicates overheating and should be inspected as soon as possible by a licensed electrician.
Buzzing /Crackling Sounds
If you hear unusual sounds – like a crackling or buzzing from the electrical service panel – these sounds indicate a serious safety hazard and often indicate arcing within the electrical service panel or loose wire connections.
Note that certain home inspection and insurance companies may mandate that you update your electrical service panel to meet the current code, as this ensures both reliability and safety in the delivery of electricity to your home and family. And, if you own an older home (or one that has not had an electrical service panel upgrade in some time), it is important to have the panel inspected to make sure it meets existing capacity and safety standards.
The Bottom Line
Electrical work can be dangerous, so it is essential to consult a licensed and qualified electrician to determine your specific electrical service panel needs.