How to Safely Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

How to Safely Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

Are you constantly battling flickering lights or tripping circuit breakers in your home? Perhaps you’ve noticed an inability to run multiple appliances at once without overloading the system. If these scenarios sound all too familiar, it might be time to consider how to upgrade your electrical panel.

Prevent Potential Hazards Like Electrical Fires

Just like any other component in your house, electrical panels have a finite lifespan. As your home ages and your energy demands increase with the addition of new technology and appliances, that outdated panel might struggle to keep up. An electrical upgrade isn’t just about convenience – it’s a crucial safety measure to prevent potential hazards like electrical fires. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the telltale signs that your electrical panel needs an overhaul, the benefits of taking the plunge, and a step-by-step walkthrough of the upgrade process. From consulting with licensed professionals to selecting the right panel for your needs, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and shed some light on this important home improvement project, shall we? 

Signs Your Electrical Panel Needs an Upgrade

How can you tell if your electrical panel is due for a much-needed upgrade? Here are some common red flags to watch out for:

1. Flickering or Dimming Lights

If your lights tend to flicker or dim when you turn on other electrical devices, it’s a sure sign that your panel is overloaded and can’t handle the demand. This issue can be especially problematic if you’ve recently added new appliances or electronics to your home.

Flickering or Dimming Lights

2. Frequently Tripping Breakers

Circuit breakers are designed to trip and cut off power when there’s an overload or short circuit. However, if you find yourself constantly resetting breakers, it’s a clear indication that your electrical panel is struggling to keep up with your household’s energy needs. 

Frequently Tripping Breakers

3. Inability to Handle New Appliances

Have you recently tried to run a new oven, air conditioner, or another high-powered appliance, only to have it trip the breaker or cause other electrical issues? This is often a telltale sign that your outdated panel lacks the capacity to accommodate modern energy-hungry devices.

Inability to Handle New Appliances

4. Reliance on Power Strips and Extension Cords

If you’ve resorted to using multiple power strips and extension cords to accommodate all your electrical devices, it’s a temporary solution that can quickly become a fire hazard. This is a clear sign that your panel needs an upgrade to provide adequate power distribution throughout your home. 

5. Electrical Panel is 25-40 Years Old

Even if you haven’t experienced any of the above issues, it’s recommended to upgrade your electrical panel every 25 to 40 years. Older panels may not meet current safety standards and can pose a serious risk, especially if they contain outdated components like fuse boxes or aluminum wiring. 

If you’ve noticed any of these signs, it’s time to start exploring the benefits of upgrading your electrical panel and taking the necessary steps to ensure your home’s electrical system is up to par.

Electrical Panel is 25-40 Years Old

Benefits of Upgrading Your Electrical Panel

While the prospect of an electrical panel upgrade might seem daunting, the benefits are well worth the investment. Here are some compelling reasons to take the plunge and learn how to upgrade your electrical panel: 

1. Improved Safety and Reduced Fire Risk

One of the primary advantages of upgrading your electrical panel is enhanced safety for your home and family. Outdated panels can pose a significant fire hazard, especially if they’re overloaded or not up to current safety codes. By installing a modern panel with proper circuit breakers and grounding, you’ll drastically reduce the risk of electrical fires and other hazards.

2. Ability to Handle Modern Appliances and Technology

As technology continues to evolve, so do our energy demands. From high-efficiency appliances to home entertainment systems and smart home devices, our homes require more power than ever before. Upgrading to a higher amperage panel will ensure you can seamlessly integrate and operate all your modern gadgets without overloading the system.

3. Increased Home Value and Appeal to Buyers

If you’re considering selling your home in the future, an upgraded electrical panel can be a significant selling point. Prospective buyers will appreciate the peace of mind that comes with a safe, up-to-date electrical system, and it can even increase your property’s value.

4. Potential for Energy Efficiency Savings

While the upfront cost of an electrical panel upgrade might seem steep, it can lead to long-term energy savings. By ensuring your home’s electrical system is operating efficiently and without strain, you could see a reduction in your monthly utility bills. 

With these compelling benefits in mind, it’s easy to see why an electrical panel upgrade should be a priority for homeowners. But what exactly does the process entail? Let’s take a closer look. 

Understanding the Upgrade Process

Upgrading your electrical panel is a multi-step process that should be handled by a licensed and experienced electrician. Here’s a breakdown of the steps you should follow:

1. Consult a Licensed Electrician

The first step is to schedule a consultation with a reputable electrician in your area. They will assess your home’s current electrical needs, identify any potential issues, or code violations, and recommend the appropriate upgrades. 

During this consultation, your electrician will: 

  • Evaluate the age, condition, and capacity of your existing panel 
  • Determine the required amperage for your home based on square footage, number of rooms, and appliances 
  • Ensure the proposed upgrade meets all local building codes and safety regulations 
  • Their professional expertise is crucial in ensuring the upgrade is done correctly and safely. 

2. Choose the Right Electrical Panel

Based on your electrician’s recommendations, you’ll need to select a new electrical panel that meets your home’s current and future energy demands. When choosing a panel, consider the following factors: 

  • Amperage Capacity: Most modern homes require a minimum of 200 amps, but your electrician may recommend a higher capacity if you have plans for future home additions or upgrades. 
  • Number of Spaces: Look for a panel with enough spaces for all your current circuits, plus room for future expansion as your electrical needs evolve. 
  • Smart Panel Options: If you’re interested in integrating smart home technology, you may want to consider a panel with built-in connectivity and monitoring capabilities. 

Your electrician can guide you through the selection process and ensure you choose a panel that’s compatible with your home’s electrical system.

3. Prepare for the Upgrade

Once you’ve selected your new panel, it’s time to prepare for the installation. Your electrician will provide specific instructions, but generally, you’ll need to: 

  • Shut off power to the existing panel to ensure a safe working environment. 
  • Clear a path to the panel location, removing any obstructions or clutter. 
  • Protect nearby surfaces from debris by covering them with drop cloths or plastic sheeting. 

By following these preparatory steps, you’ll help ensure a smooth and efficient installation process.

4. Install the New Electrical Panel

The actual installation is where your licensed electrician’s expertise truly shines. They will: 

  • Mount the new panel securely, ensuring it meets all code requirements. 
  • Connect the main service wires from your utility provider to the new panel. 
  • Install new circuit breakers for each of your home’s electrical circuits. 
  • Test the new panel to verify proper operation and identify any potential issues. 

Throughout this process, your electrician will adhere to strict safety protocols and local building codes, ensuring your new electrical panel is installed correctly and up to code. 

With the installation complete, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your home’s electrical system is safe, efficient, and capable of handling all your modern energy needs.

Install the New Electrical Panel

Cost Considerations

While an electrical panel upgrade is a worthwhile investment in your home’s safety and functionality, it’s important to understand the potential costs involved. The total expense can vary significantly depending on several factors:

Upgrading from 100 to 200 Amps

If your current panel is rated at 100 amps or less, upgrading to a modern 200-amp service is a common scenario. On average, you can expect to pay between £1,500 and £3,000 for this type of upgrade, including labour and materials.

Upgrading to 400 Amps

For larger homes or those with particularly high energy demands, your electrician may recommend upgrading to a 400-amp service. This more extensive upgrade can cost anywhere from £3,500 to £6,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the job.

Switching from Fuses to Circuit Breakers

If your home still relies on an outdated fuse box, the cost to switch to a modern circuit breaker panel can range from £1,000 to £2,500, in addition to the panel upgrade itself.

Moving an Electrical Panel

In some cases, the existing panel may need to be relocated to a more accessible or code-compliant location. This additional work can add £500 to £1,500 to the overall cost.

Potential Rebates or Incentives

It’s worth checking with your local utility company or government agencies, as there may be rebates or incentives available for homeowners who upgrade to more energy-efficient electrical systems. 

Keep in mind that these are just rough estimates, and the actual cost of your electrical panel upgrade will depend on your specific circumstances. Your licensed electrician can provide you with a detailed quote based on their assessment of your home’s needs. 

While the upfront cost may seem significant, it’s important to weigh it against the long-term benefits of improved safety, increased home value, and the ability to seamlessly integrate modern appliances and technology.

Concealing the Electrical Panel

Once your new electrical panel is installed, you might be wondering how to best conceal it while still ensuring easy access for maintenance and safety purposes. One elegant solution is to use an access panel or cabinet. 

An access panel, also known as an electrical panel cover or enclosure, is a specialised cabinet designed to conceal your electrical panel while providing a discreet and aesthetic solution. Here are some key benefits of using an access panel: 

1. Aesthetics and Safety

Let’s face it – an exposed electrical panel can be an eyesore, detracting from the overall look and feel of your home’s interior. An access panel allows you to seamlessly integrate the panel into your home’s design, blending it into the surrounding walls or cabinetry. 

Additionally, access panels provide an added layer of safety by preventing accidental contact with the panel’s live components, protecting curious children or guests from potential harm.

2. Accessibility

While concealing the panel is essential for aesthetics and safety, it’s equally important to ensure easy access for your electrician or utility provider. Access panels are designed with hinged or removable doors, allowing authorised personnel to access the panel whenever necessary quickly and easily.

3. Code Compliance

Building codes often require electrical panels to be accessible for inspection and maintenance purposes. By installing an access panel, you can rest assured that your electrical setup meets all relevant code requirements, ensuring compliance and avoiding potential issues down the line.

4. Customizable Options

Access panels come in a variety of materials, finishes, and styles, allowing you to choose an option that complements your home’s existing decor. From sleek, modern designs to more traditional cabinetry, you’re sure to find an access panel that suits your aesthetic preferences. 

When it comes to concealing your new electrical panel, an access panel offers the perfect balance of form and function. Not only does it enhance the visual appeal of your home, but it also prioritizes safety and accessibility, ensuring your electrical system remains compliant and easily maintainable for years to come.

Customizable Options


If you have been constantly searching for how to upgrade your electrical panel, you already know that it might seem like a daunting task. But we strongly think that it is an investment that pays dividends in terms of safety, functionality, and peace of mind. By recognising the signs that your panel needs an overhaul, you can take proactive steps to ensure your home’s electrical system is up to modern standards. 

From improved safety and reduced fire risk to the ability to seamlessly integrate the latest appliances and technology, the benefits of an electrical panel upgrade are undeniable. And with the guidance of a licensed electrician, the process can be smooth and hassle-free. 

So, if you’ve noticed flickering lights, frequent breaker trips, or an inability to handle your home’s energy demands, it’s time to act. Consult with a professional electrician, explore your options, and invest in an electrical panel that not only meets your current needs but also provides the capacity for future growth and innovation. 

Don’t let an outdated electrical system hold you back from enjoying the convenience and safety of modern living. Embrace the power of an upgraded electrical panel and experience the peace of mind that comes with a safe, efficient, and future-proof home.