Our friends and neighbors ask a lot of questions about electrical panel replacement. That’s a good thing because there are questions you should ask about home electrical panels.

Some of the frequently asked questions we receive reflect what we’ve always known: The Valley homeowners are savvy DIYers (do-it-yourselfers). And the best DIYers know when to depend on their local electrician for safe and efficient electrical panel replacement.

Frequently Asked Questions About Electrical Panel Replacement

Some FAQs we receive about home electrical panels are:

Q: Can I do a DIY panel upgrade?
NO. You certainly won’t save money. The smallest mistake can ruin your home’s electrical system. In addition to causing a fire hazard, the damage repair will be very expensive. If a fire causes damage as a result of a DIY electrical panel replacement, your insurance company can deny coverage. The number of injuries and fatalities professional electricians experience every year is tragic. It’s not worth risking harm or death.
Your professional electrician will:

  1. Evaluate your lifestyle and home’s electricity
  2. Explain the best panel for your property
  3. Install/connect the panel/circuit breakers
  4. Test and document your system for code/zoning requirements

Q: How can I tell it’s time for an electrical panel upgrade?
If your panel operates with fuses, it’s time for a replacement. If your home was built in the ’70s, ’80s, or 1990s, your electrical panel is due for an upgrade. Signs you need electrical panel replacement include:

  • Amperage – If you have less than 200 amps, you don’t have enough to power a home today.
  • Flickering lights
  • Frequent trips/resets needed
  • Increase in number of people living in home
  • Outlet shocks
  • Visible signs at the electrical panel:
    • “Burning plastic” odor
    • Burn marks
    • Buzzing
    • Rust

Q: Is there a difference between a panel “upgrade” vs. panel replacement?
Yes and no. Usually, a panel replacement includes a panel upgrade. It’s a situation of “As long as we’re here…” Panel replacements are mandatory if you have:

  • Age – Electrical panels need to be replaced between 24-40 years
  • Rodent damage from chewing/droppings
  • Water damage
  • Wire damage

A panel “upgrade” is often less about repairs or damage control and more about service. Your home may not have enough open circuits or need additional amperage.

Q: My neighbor had an electrical subpanel installed. What’s that and do I need one?
We install quite a few subpanels in homes with electric vehicles. A “subpanel” is a smaller electrical service panel that targets a specific area. It is “essentially a satellite circuit breaker panel that has its own breakers,” says The Spruce. The advantages are:

  • A subpanel is another way to add circuits to a too-full electrical panel.
  • If needed, circuits can be controlled in a more convenient location than the main electrical service panel.
  • Subpanels accommodate space requirements in garages, outbuildings, etc.

Q: Our small home was built in 1988. We retired here in 2018, and so far, so good. If we don’t have any problems, do we really need an electrical panel replacement?
Your home’s electrical panel is overdue for replacement. You need to plan and budget for an electrical panel replacement sooner rather than later. Why wait until an emergency?

We also need you to check the inside of the panel cover to see if it says “Federal Pacific.” If it does, call us asap. These were never “officially” recalled but had a too-high failure rate that caused fires.

Turn It On Electric is your residential and commercial electrician for top-tier experienced service and customer care. When you have questions, please ask. Contact TIO Electric today!

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