When Is It Time For A Commercial Electrical Sub Panel Replacement?
February 18, 2021 | Cristina Dinulescu
Back in the day, the electrical needs of a home or business were far different from what they are today. Even though electricity was part of the day to day life, things were less complicated and businesses were not as dependent on technology as they are now. Because appliances and devices came in a smaller number, there was seldom a need for a commercial electrical sub panel.
Today, we seem to have lost track of the number of devices used to conduct day to day activities. Using technology is not a bad thing, but it must be done responsibly. When adding equipment, increasing the electrical needs of your business, it is essential that you consider the state of your electrical system. Remember that as a business owner you are bound to respect national and local electrical safety codes and requirements. You need to ensure your employees have a safe working environment.
So, when adding extra lighting, appliances or computers, call a commercial electrician first and have them check the state of your electrical system. They will be able to tell you if your system can handle the extra load or if you need a sub panel. If you already have one, a thorough inspection will determine if it requires an upgrade or if you need to replace your electrical sub panel altogether.
What Is A Commercial Electrical Sub Panel?
An electrical sub panel represents the waypoint between the branch circuits and the main service panel. Basically, it’s a mini service panel, separating electrical functions. Using one over the main panel offers your electrical system greater flexibility.
A sub panel is an excellent addition to any business, considering that your power needs may grow rapidly. A sub-panel offers you the possibility to add supplementary circuits whenever you need them, without putting your business on hold. Plus, sub panels make it easier, to some extent, to ensure safety. In the event of a sub panel fire, you can isolate the area by switching it off and thus preventing the spread, as well as further damage.
There are a few things to note when it come to a commercial sub panel installation:
- When installing an electrical sub panel, you are not adding more power to your office. The sub panel is creating a more efficient and simple to manage electric service running from your main panel to areas of your office.
- If there isn’t enough room for extra circuits within the main panel, an electric sub panel is the right solution, because it allows new circuit breakers to be installed in a different physical location.
- A sub panel simplifies the electrical service in your office by better distributing power in different areas of your building.
Signs Of A Defective Commercial Sub Panel
Commercial electrical sub panels are what you’d call heavy duty, but they don’t last forever either. When the electrical system is put under a lot of pressure, the panel will start showing signs of deterioration or even malfunction. Some of these signs are noticeable even by the untrained eye, so here are a few things to pay attention to.
The sub panel has rusted components.
Rusted components are never a good sign, no matter where you find them. In the case of a commercial sub panel, rust is usually a sign that moisture has somehow managed to get inside of it. Even though there may be different reasons for rust to appear, it’s definitely a sign you want to pay attention to.
Water and electricity don’t go well together, therefore water inside the sub panel, where a high amount of electric current goes through, is worrisome. This may cause the sub panel to stop functioning properly and exposes your business to an increased fire risk.
Burn smell is coming from the subpanel.
In case you notice a distinct smell coming from the sub panel, more specifically a burning smell, you need to act fast. Burn or charring marks are also an indication that something is wrong.
Don’t wait to contact a commercial electrician and have the sub panel inspected and most likely replaced immediately. Your business and your staff are exposed to a high fire risk.
Lights are dimming or flickering.
If you’ve noticed that lately the lights have started to flicker or they’re dimming, then this is also not something to ignore. Call a professional electrician as this is usually a sign that power isn’t managed properly. Flickering lights are often an indication that a circuit is overloaded.
Replacing the electrical sub panel may be required in this situation. A new, up to code panel can be installed and wired to distribute the energy better and more efficiently.
Installing The Sub Panel
Replacing the electrical sub panel can turn out to be a costly endeavor, so thinking about ways to cut down costs is understandable. You might even think to install the sub panel on your own instead of hiring a team of professionals. However, the electrical sub panel installation is not a simple task and when it is not done properly, it can expose you to significant dangers.
Not only do you need a professional for this job, but you should also make sure to hire a commercial electrician that’s licensed and bonded. Installations done by a non-professional could expose your business to shocks, electrical hazards, or worse. In addition, failing to comply with national and local codes could have serious consequences.
If you need to replace your electrical sub panel or are in need of a team of professionals for maintenance, installation, or verification, you can count on us. Penna Electric will help with any electrical work, commercial or residential, you might require.