Top Questions to Ask About Electrical Panel Replacement
Every modern home is outfitted with an electrical panel that is responsible for diverting power that is brought into your home to various circuits. Your panel box serves as the control center for being able to reset tripped circuit breakers and for shutting off power to particular circuits throughout your home. Before you invest in an electrical panel upgrade, there are some key questions that you’ll want to ask your installation professional.
Why Do You Need a Replacement Panel?
Many people first find out that they need an electrical panel upgrade whenever they call an electrician for another issue that they’re experiencing. The most common reasons that require a replacement include damaged components inside your existing electrical panel and an undersized electrical panel.
When it comes to damaged internal components, there are a few key things that your chosen electrician will be on the lookout for. These include the following:
- Rusted components
- Faulty or outdated breakers
- Wire burns
- Ungrounded outlets
- Burning smell
- Strange noises
- Physical damage to the panel box
Some common signs that you have an undersized electrical panel box include the following:
- Constantly tripping breakers
- Flickering lights
- Warm switches and outlets
- Shocks from switches and outlets
- You have fuses instead of circuit breakers
- Your home is 40 years old or older
In the event that you have an undersized electrical panel box, it’s necessary to understand what upgrades need to be performed. For example, most older homes were standardized with 100-amp electrical service. However, to run all of the electronics that we have today, homes typically need between 150 amps and 200 amps.
What is the Replacement Cost Going to Be?
Cost is always a factor that you want to discuss when it comes to purchasing anything for your home. Your new electrical panel box isn’t any different. You want to get an estimate so that you understand exactly what you’re paying for.
On average in the United States, the cost of replacing an electrical panel is between $900 and $2,500 for the installation of a 200-amp breaker box. The cost associated with upgrading your existing panel box is going to depend on a number of different factors. These include:
- Geographical location
- Whether you’re upgrading amperage
- Breaker type you’re purchasing
- Installation company
- Electrical panel size
The above factors are solely what may influence the actual cost of the new panel box. It’s also important to remember that you may incur other costs when it comes to upgrading your electrical panel. These include things like:
- Electrical panel relocation
- Subpanel installation
- Electric meter replacement
- Fuse box replacement
- Fuse or switch replacement
- Additional outlet installation
- Trenching for electrical conduit
- Drywall repair when replacing outlets, wiring, or switches
An electrician can give you a better idea of what you’re looking at price-wise for these additional electrical upgrades. Always consider the cost of throwing these extra services into your service appointment. It can help to reduce rates by bundling projects.
Does This Upgrade Require a Local Permit?
In most municipalities, an electrical permit is needed whenever there are changes, upgrades, or repairs to an existing residential electrical system. These permits help to ensure that the work is done by a licensed professional with knowledge of uniformity, safety, and compliance with local and national electrical codes.
In many cases, you’ll need to have the new panel box inspected by a local code officer as part of your permitting requirements. It can be very helpful to speak with a licensed electrician in your local area to determine whether or not a permit is required.
Some electricians will get the permit for you, while others may require you to do the legwork. Either way, you should ask so that you know what’s required of you during the replacement process. It can also be helpful to ask what the cost of a permit will be so that you can plan that extra cost into your budget.
The typical permit for replacing an electrical box is between $50 and $300. The price will vary depending on factors like your geographical location and if there are other services being performed, like moving the location of your electrical panel box.
How Long Will the Replacement Process Take?
During the actual replacement process, the power to your home will be out. You’ll need to prepare yourself for how long you’ll be going without power. For most replacements, you expect a time frame of about four to eight hours.
However, this is going to vary widely depending on factors like who does the replacement and what panel box you’re upgrading to. You should speak with your chosen electrician to determine how long you should plan to be without power. This will allow you time to shut down your electrical components to prevent any damage prior to turning off the circuits.
Is Your Contractor Licensed and Insured?
Before you hire anyone to do your electrical panel replacement, you need to ensure that they meet minimum standard requirements. An electrician is typically required to have a license in most locations throughout the country. In some states, like Pennsylvania, the state actually issues a license for electricians.
However, in other states, like Idaho, there is no state licensing. Rather, many local municipalities issue their own licensing. When an electrician is licensed, it means that they’ve successfully completed the training deemed necessary to safely work on electrical components in your area. This knowledge includes the NEC or National Electric Code, which is the most common basic standard set for the country.
All electricians should be able to provide you with a license number or a copy of their electrician certificate. You can check their license number against the state or local licensing agencies to ensure that the license is active in your area. Realize that most homeowners insurance requires that you have a licensed electrician do any work on your home. If there’s a problem and you use an unlicensed electrician, they may deny your claim.
Insurance is another must whenever it comes to hiring an electrician. Accidents can happen, and you want to ensure that your home is covered in the event that one does happen while your electrical panel box is being replaced. The most common coverage limit for most electricians’ general liability insurance is around one million dollars.
Depending on the value of your home, you may need to ensure they have higher coverage limits. Any electrician who has adequate insurance coverage will be able to show you proof of insurance at the time that you schedule your appointment. This is not a step that you want to skip as you’ll find yourself paying for the repairs if the electrician doesn’t do so.
Excellent Electrician Services
Huft Home Services offers excellent electrician services throughout the entire Sacramento, CA and surrounding regions. We also offer top-quality heating, cooling, indoor air quality, insulation, plumbing, and home inspection services. Simply contact us today to schedule your next appointment with one of our highly experienced electricians.