Signs that your electrical panel needs an upgrade

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Gina Napsin
June 19, 2024
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Are you ready to embark on a journey into the heart of your home's electrical system? Picture this: behind closed doors, your electrical panel silently powers your entire household, ensuring everything runs smoothly. But what if it's not up to the task?
In this captivating blog, we'll unveil the mysterious signs that reveal when your panel is crying out for an upgrade. From flickering lights to burnt smells, get ready to decode the hidden messages and unlock a safer, more efficient home. Let's dive into the electrifying world of panel upgrades together!

What Does an Electrical Panel Do?

The central point of your house's electrical system is the electrical panel, also known as a circuit breaker panel or distribution board. It is responsible for receiving and distributing electricity to various circuits throughout your house. The primary purpose of it is to control and safeguard the current, guaranteeing secure and effective distribution of power. It houses circuit breakers or fuses that monitor the load on each circuit and automatically trip or blow in the event of an overload or short circuit, preventing damage to wiring and appliances.
Additionally, the panel allows for easy control and management of power, as circuits can be individually switched on or off. Overall, it acts as a control center, safeguarding your home and its electrical components from potential hazards.

18 Signs You Need An Electrical Panel Upgrade

Your home's electrical panel is the heart of its system, responsible for distributing power throughout your house. Over time, it may need an upgrade to ensure safety and meet the growing demands of modern appliances and electronics. Here are some signs that indicate you may need an upgrade:
  1. Frequent Circuit Breaker Tripping: If your circuit breakers trip frequently, it may indicate that your panel is overloaded and struggling to handle the electrical load. This can be a sign that you need to upgrade to a higher-capacity panel to meet your power demands.
  2. Flickering or Dimming Lights: If your lights flicker or dim when you use certain appliances or turn on multiple devices, it could indicate a problem with your panel. It may not be able to provide enough power to meet the demands, leading to voltage fluctuations and inconsistent lighting.
  3. Outdated Fuse Box: If your home still has an old-fashioned fuse box, it clearly indicates that you need an electrical panel upgrade. Fuse boxes are outdated and can be safety hazards, as they are less effective at protecting against overloads and don't provide the convenience of circuit breakers.
  4. Overreliance on Extension Cords: If you find yourself relying heavily on extension cords to power your devices and appliances, it's a sign that you may not have enough outlets in your home. This can put a strain on your electrical system and increase the risk of overloading circuits, highlighting the need for an upgraded electrical panel.
  5. Constant Need for Resetting Breakers: If you frequently have to reset tripped circuit breakers, it indicates that your panel is struggling to handle the electrical load. Continuous resetting of breakers is not only inconvenient but also indicates that your panel is outdated and may need an upgrade to meet your power needs more effectively.
  6. Burning Smell or Scorch Marks: If you notice a burning smell or see scorch marks around your electrical panel, it's a serious warning sign. These signs indicate overheating, which can lead to fires. Upgrading your electrical panel will ensure it can handle the load safely and prevent potential fire hazards.
  7. Inadequate Power for Modern Appliances: If you've recently added energy-intensive appliances, such as a high-powered air conditioner or a hot tub, and your panel struggles to keep up, it's a clear indication that you need an upgrade. Modern appliances often require higher electrical capacities that older panels may not be able to provide.
  8. Limited Number of Circuits: If your home has a limited number of circuits and you find yourself frequently tripping breakers when using multiple devices simultaneously, it's a sign that your panel is outdated. Upgrading to a panel with more circuits will provide the necessary capacity and prevent overloading.
  9. Non-Compliance with Safety Standards: If your electrical panel doesn't comply with current safety standards or building codes, it's crucial to upgrade it. Outdated panels may lack the safety features required to protect against electrical shocks, overloads, and other hazards, putting your home and family at risk.
  10. Presence of Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panels: If your home has a Federal Pacific Electric panel, it's strongly recommended to upgrade it. FPE panels have been known to have significant safety issues, including a high risk of circuit breakers failing to trip, which can lead to fires.
  11. Constantly Blown Fuses: If you have a fuse box and find yourself frequently replacing blown fuses, it indicates that your electrical system is overloaded. Upgrading to a circuit breaker panel will provide better protection and eliminate the hassle of replacing fuses.
  12. Insufficient Amperage Capacity: If your electrical panel has a low amperage capacity, such as 60 amps or 100 amps, it may not be able to handle the demands of modern homes. Upgrading to a higher amperage capacity will ensure that you have sufficient power for your household needs.
  13. Buzzing Sounds from the Electrical Panel: If you notice buzzing, crackling, or sizzling sounds coming from your panel, it could mean that there's electrical arcing happening. This may be due to loose connections or damaged components. These sounds indicate a potential fire hazard and should be addressed immediately with an upgrade.
  14. Old Wiring and Outlets: If your home still has outdated knob-and-tube wiring or aluminum wiring, it's a strong indication that your electrical panel needs an upgrade. These wiring types are not as safe or efficient as modern copper wiring, and upgrading the panel will ensure compatibility with updated systems.
  15. Inconsistent Power Supply: If you experience inconsistent power supply, with some outlets or circuits providing weak or no power at all, it may be due to an outdated panel. Upgrading the panel will improve the distribution of power throughout your home, ensuring a stable and reliable electrical supply.
  16. Home Renovations or Additions: If you're planning significant home renovations or adding new rooms, it's essential to assess whether your current panel can handle the increased power demand. Upgrading the panel will provide the necessary capacity to accommodate the additional electrical load.
  17. Lack of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs): If your electrical panel doesn't have GFCIs, it's an indication that it lacks modern safety features. GFCIs are crucial for protecting against electrical shocks in wet areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Upgrading your panel will ensure the installation of GFCIs for enhanced safety.
  18. Age of the Electrical Panel: If it is over 20-30 years old, it's likely outdated and may not meet the power demands and safety standards of modern homes. Aging panels are more prone to malfunctions and pose a higher risk of electrical hazards, making an upgrade a wise decision for your home's electrical system.
Remember, hiring a licensed electrician to perform electrical panel upgrades is essential to guarantee safety and comply with electrical codes.

Do I Need a Larger Electrical Panel For My Home?

Determining whether you need a larger electrical panel for your home naturally depends on your electrical load and plans. If you're frequently experiencing circuit breaker trips or insufficient power, it may be beneficial to consider upgrading to a larger panel. Upgrading will provide you with more electrical capacity, improved reliability, and reduced instances of power disruptions.
Additionally, a larger panel allows for future expansion and the addition of new appliances without overloading the system. Consulting with a licensed electrician will ensure you make an informed decision and reap the benefits of upgrading your electrical panel.

Learn More About Upgrading Electrical Panel

Looking for top-notch residential electrical services and expertise in upgrading your electrical panel? Look no further! Call Home Alliance today and discover the difference our experienced electricians can make. From electrical panel replacements and wiring services to circuit breaker repairs, light installations, and safety inspections, we have you covered.
With years of experience and a commitment to quality, our skilled team ensures your needs are met with precision. Best of all, our services come at a reasonable cost. Contact us now for exceptional electrical service and peace of mind.