You may not even realize that the panel is substandard, unsafe or not adequate enough. Getting more information, will help you determine whether you would benefit from an inspection to determine the current condition of your electric panel.
What is an Electric Panel?
This is the metal box on the outside of your home or in your basement, utility room, where you electric meter is. Your electric panel holds a series of circuit breakers. The panel is responsible for directing the electricity that comes in from the main power supply from the electric company outside your home throughout your house via those various breakers. Each breaker has a job as well, distributing smaller amounts of electricity to outlets and light switches throughout the home. The electrical panel, also known as a circuit breaker box, is the brains of your electricity and manages a series of outlets and switches in a section or room of the house.
Signs Your Electrical Panel Needs Replacing
Even if a panel appears to be working okay or you don’t think you’ve had any ‘real’ problems with it, there could be underlying issues. Because an electric panel is so important to the normal, daily function of everything you do in your house, it is important it is in good condition. There is also the safety factor that must be considered. An outdated or bad panel can be a fire risk or electric shock risk. A bad panel is not something to be taken lightly or ignored.
The following are some of the signs of a panel that is in need of replacing.
- Wires melted inside the box
- Flickering lights, especially lights that flicker when you are running the microwave, air conditioner, or another appliance
- Breakers that regularly trip for no reason or when you use two appliances at the same time
- A breaker that DOESN’T trip when the circuit is interrupted, which causes an electric shock when using an appliance or results in sparking
- Rust or corrosion on the panel itself or the breakers
- Crackling sounds coming from the breaker panel (indicating burning wires)
- Appliances running at less power; a refrigerator compressor may come on more frequently than it should, when the refrigerator compressor kicks on, lights may dim
- Large appliances, like the heater or AC, won’t run properly because there isn’t enough electricity
- The panel is hot to the touch
- Smoke coming from the panel or the smell of smoke coming from around the area where the panel is located
Reasons to Replace an Electric Panel
Even if your existing panel is technically in good working condition, you may find it isn’t working for you and your needs. Panels that are older than thirty to forty years or so, were simply not made with today’s technology in mind. Homes require a great deal more electricity than they did a few decades ago. The older panels are not equipped to handle the all the electrical demands of today’s world. A couple of outlets in a room was adequate a couple decades ago, but with entertainment systems, various chargers and technology in general, that won’t do today.
If you are considering the purchase of a new home, due diligence is a must. Check the current electric panel. If possible, order an inspection to determine what condition the electrical system is in before you move forward. This can save you unexpected costs after the close of the home.
The following are some other reasons you will want to consider an electric panel upgrade.
- Your home has a 60-amp service panel or a 100-amp service that doesn’t meet your electrical needs.
- Lack of adequate number of electrical outlets
- Planning to install a new AC, hot tub, swimming pool or electric car charging system that requires a 240-volt circuit
- Remodeling or adding onto your home or additional room or living space that will require additional lights and outlets
- Adding a home office or a work space that requires a subpanel
- Getting A kitchen remodel or upgrade will probably include more appliances that will require more electricity
Replacing the Electric Panel
If you have made the decision to replace your old panel, the work must be completed by a licensed electrician. Permits will be required for the work and there will be inspections to check the installation. Electric panels are the hub of your home. Having a panel that meets your needs with a little room to spare means you will never have to fight over outlets again when you need to charge your phone.
Having a more efficient and technologically friendly, electrical panel and electrical system will allow you to enjoy the freedom of having plenty of electricity available to meet all of your electrical needs. In some cases, you may even find your homeowner’s insurance company will give you a discount because of a panel upgrade.