Electrical panels and meter sockets are important components of the house. They ensure you have electricity and give you the convenience to do your daily activities. But, because these things get outdated over time you need to do some electrical service changes.
Residential and commercial buildings alike are built with electrical panels. These are like the heart of the property that keeps it beating. Electrical panels carry the electricity that runs throughout the structure. And so, it is critical that they are functioning well.
When electrical panels become old, their wirings could spark and cause huge problems. It could potentially trip the breaker or cause a fire. An electrical panel upgrade is essential to prevent catastrophes from happening.
But, you are probably wondering how would you know if it is time for electrical service changes? In this article, we have shared some telltale signs that you should upgrade the electrical panel of your home.
Burn marks on the panel, burnt smell, and the panel getting hot are all signs that you should definitely upgrade your electrical panel immediately. Hire professionals to inspect and upgrade your electric system.
Power Trips Frequently
When your lights are often flickering, it means that it is not getting the right amount of electricity it needs. If your appliances suddenly shut off or cannot run at its best, it might also not have the ample supply of power it requires to work properly. In the end, they could be damaged or stop working.
Old electrical box
This is another visible sign that tells you should install new electrical panels. Outdated panels can become a serious problem because the system might not be able to sustain your electric consumption.
There are many dangers to using out-of-date electrical panels. First of all, they are unsafe to use.
But, how do you tell if your electric panel is old? You can find a serial number on the box that indicates the year it was manufactured. You could also check the ampacity or load capacity from that label. Typically, the panels should be replaced every 20 years.
Some examples of old electrical boxes include:
- Zinsco Panels have breakers that could not handle the surge of electricity and melt. Click here for more information on Zinsco Panels.
- FPE Panels or the Federal Pacific Electric which are reported to have caused thousands of residential fires in the United States. This type allows electricity to linger on the circuit even after it has been shut off. Read more about Federal Pacific Electric panels here.
- Fuse Box is common in homes. The problem is that people or homeowners only modify their fuse boxes to handle the increase of their electric use, instead of replacing it with the right panel for the amperage they need.
- Split-Bus Panel is common to houses built in the 1980s. So if you are living in a home that has this kind of panel, you should get it checked and conduct proper load analysis. Investigate whether the panel is still safe to use.
The common split-bus panel consists of two independent bus bars and the bottom breaker of the first section is the one feeding current to the second set. This type is often small and has up to six breakers.
If you need to turn off the home’s power completely, you will need to shut all of those breakers. This panel design usually fails to cut electricity when it is supposed to, hence, making wirings unable to handle power and overloads.
That said, you will need to hire an electrician to make a split bus panel replacement if you want to install more appliances in your home, apartments, or commercial building.
Upgrading your old electrical panel will not only reduce future hazards but will give you benefits like improving your electrical system’s design and functionality, being able to plug in more appliances, and reduce electric bills.
Electrical Panel Upgrade Cost
The average electrical panel replacement cost ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 for most jobs. Wiring an electric panel could take up to 8 hours or more to finish, and you could expect to pay about $100 per hour as the price to hire an electrician. However, costing could be cut or double depending on the extensiveness of work required.
Meter Socket Checks
Aside from the electrical panels, one other crucial part of any house or building is the meter socket. It is connected to the electrical meter which is a device that tells how much power is being used and the basis for your electric bills.
The meter socket is often found outside, and therefore should be waterproof. There are different kinds of meter sockets that can handle different amperages. Big houses or buildings use heat-duty sockets that are capable of supporting about 320 or more amps.
When it comes to meter socket replacement, do not attempt to install a new one on your own. Call your electric company to do the inspection and replacement. That is so much safer than to try and fix it yourself and cause more damage.
Meter socket installation for 100 amp costs about $100, while a higher amp could range from $200 to $500. And from some homeowners, changing electrical devices like this does not require a permit.
Doing electrical service changes on your own is dangerous, especially if you do not have the knowledge and skills in replacing or installing electric panels and meter sockets. The electrical panel consists of live wires that could get you electrocuted. Hiring professionals that have the equipment and skills is the best thing to do.
So, who are the professionals that can assist you?
First, you can call on home inspectors to check your electrical system. They can easily detect where electrical issues often start. Home inspectors are also well aware of the different kinds of electrical panels and determine panel age.
You can also hire a professional electrician who is experienced in installing or changing electrical panels and specialty breakers. Although hiring an electrician might be costly, it will be worth its price in the end.
Qualified electricians have the tools, skills, and knowledge of electrical codes and concepts. They understand the components of an electrical system, so you can rest assured the job is done right and safely.