Electrical Panel – When Should Yours Be Replaced

There’s no need for smoke to be leaking out of the old electrical panel before you consider replacing it.  As a matter of fact, if you have waited that long you may just be too late.  An electrical fire is one many risks to an outdated or overloaded electrical panel.

The electrical panel is the heart of your home’s electrical system. The panel connects to the power lines and brings current to the circuits in your home. The panel also contains the circuit breakers which prevent overloads.

Lack of maintenance is one of the top reasons why these electrical panels require repairs. The homeowner might find an older system constantly in need of fixing, which can become expensive.

How Do I KNOW That I Need A New Electrical Panel?

Frequently news reports on catastrophic fires give electrical wiring problems as the cause. The National Fire Protection Agency estimates that electrical problems caused 144,000 house fires over a four-year period. Of course, you don’t want that to happen to your home.  Some of the warning signals might be dimming lights, discolored power outlets, burning odor, or minor electric shocks. If the electrical system in your home is still using fuses, it’s time to move up to circuit breakers. Fuses are outdated and may pose a safety hazard.

How much does it cost to replace an electrical panel?

Replacing a 100 amp electrical panel normally runs $1200-$1800 while a 200 amp runs $1800-$2400. To upgrade to 200 amps except to invest $3500-$4500 to start while we have had some clients invest upwards of $7000 for the top of the line and all the addons. This is due to all the parts of the electrical system that will need to be installed to meet the code requirements for the 200 amps. Addons most of our clients spring for are generator hookups, whole-home surge protection, better quality electrical panel, and installation of AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) breakers to make the home safer.

When should I replace my electrical panel?

You should consider replacing your electrical panel if it is:
  • Over 30 years old
  • If you’re adding large appliances
  • Have a panel that isn’t safe
  • Showing signs of rust/corrosion
Electrical safety standards are constantly being updated to provide safe, clean and efficient power to your home. As the electrical system ages, parts can deteriorate not only in performance but in physical condition. We have seen circuit breakers not trip when they are supposed to while others may trip frequently. A good time to consider replacing your panel is if you plan on adding on to your home or need more power for a larger appliance. The most common items that can trigger this are electrical vehicle charges, computer servers, hot tubs, electric heat pumps, tankless water heaters, and electric stoves. Maybe you want to finish your basement and turn it into an apartment or in-suite. These typically will increase your power needs.

Do I need a permit to upgrade my electrical panel?

A permit should always be pulled when replacing a main electrical panel. There are a few reasons for this. You want to have it on the county record that the work was done and passed code for when you go to sell your home. You want to make sure it passes code and is done by a qualified electrician like Haas & Sons Electric.

Let Our Certified Electricians Help You Decide.

The first thing on the list for a certified electrical technician would be to examine the current system. Technicians frequently provide a free initial inspection. In many older homes our electrician will find an older panel providing 60 amps of power, or perhaps a standard breaker-type panel at 100 amps. Today, 200-amp panels are recommended. These panels allow for future upgrades and are better when you resell the house.

A Sure Sign Of Trouble

If there has been a water leak anywhere near your panel, call a professional immediately. Leaks can be dangerous and need to be fixed right away. A less obvious sign of a water problem is when you see rust stains on the panel cover or a chalky white corrosion on wiring and other metal parts.

Give Your Electrical Box A Regular Check Up

You’ve heard “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” How about a new phrase: “If it ain’t broke, still check it?”

Once again this is a job for a certified electrician. This is especially true if you are living in an older home. One particularly troublesome piece of equipment is the Stab-Lok electrical panels manufactured by Federal Pacific, a company now out of business. If your home was built between 1950-1990, you might have one of these panels. One licensed electrician said he replaces approximately 300 of the Stab-Lok panels each year. With an estimated 28 million still in use, your home might have one. In addition, your homeowner’s insurance might increase if you have Stab-Lok.

You might say, “I’ve lived in this house for years and haven’t had a problem.” You are a fortunate person.  One of the main purposes of a circuit breaker is to shut down a line when it is overloaded and prevent a fire. Too often Stab-Lok breakers fail to shut down the circuit.  A visual test will not determine if you have a problem. Once again, this task is best carried out by a certified technician. The Stab-Lok panels and circuit breakers are labeled.  If you see this on your panel, have it checked out.

Getting A New Panel

Think about all the electronics in your home.  From the flat-screen TV, to kids’ games, to sensitive financial and work-related data stored on your computers. Do you want to risk that to an aging, or malfunctioning breaker box? Probably not. Of course, any new installations must conform to the local electrical code. Your Maryland-certified electrician will make sure you are equipped with an electrical panel that will have you worry free for years to come.

An electrical inspection may not be required when you are rehabbing a kitchen or converting your basement into more living space. Still, an inspection of the electrical panel makes sense. Find out about potential problems before they become a nightmare.


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Great service. Very professional Michael was very knowledgeable and took the time to answer my questions. He took care of my electrical issues in a timely and professional manner. Very nice person. Barbara Pasadena
Professional Felt like everything was explained for me to make an informed decision. Technician was nice, safe, and took his time to make sure the job was done correctly. Nicole Annapolis
Excellent Service and Fair Price Haas and Sons was quick to respond and communication was top notch start to finish. Alex was efficient and very professional. I had 3 options to choose from and all were explained thoroughly. All my future electrical needs will be with Haas & Sons. David Gambrills