Why An Electrical Panel Upgrade Is Costly & 3 Reasons It’s Worth It
November 9, 2020 | Cristina Dinulescu
Wear and tear is a universal issue and it applies to your home just like to everything else. Even if you take good care of your house and property, use all appliances with care, follow all the rules, your home wiring and electrical system may still need updating. Most homeowners dread the idea of an electrical panel upgrade, because they regard it as expensive, or worse, unnecessary.
But the truth is that the investment is well worth it, if you take into account the risks posed by an outdated or poorly functioning electrical panel. Typically, a panel can function properly somewhere between 20 to 30 years, but you still want to check it from time to time, as we are using more electricity now than ever before and your 20-year-old panel might not be equipped to handle that amount of energy.
There’s no doubt around the value and necessity of an updated panel, but if you’re wondering why a panel upgrade is so costly, here are some of the major reasons why.
1. The Cost of The Panel
Generally speaking, the estimated cost to upgrade an electrical panel is somewhere between $2,500 – $4,500, both materials and labor. As you can see, the price varies a lot, due to factors like the professional electrician who will be doing the work or any unforeseen problems that might appear along the way. It also depends on the amperage, degree of difficulty and whether or not the panel needs to be relocated. The price also varies from a main panel to a sub panel.
However, one of the main reasons why an electrical panel upgrade is so costly is the actual panel itself. Today, most people upgrade because they require more power, therefore they need a panel with more amperage. The higher the amperage is, the higher the cost. But if you already have a 200 amp panel and you’ve noticed clear signs that it needs replacing, your only option is to go for 400 amps one, which is more costly. Another common reason you might need an upgrade is the limited amount of breaker spaces, which was the standard in the past.
2. The Quality of Work
Upgrading an electrical panel is not an easy project, so labor is a big part of the cost. However, the panel is the backbone of your whole house electrical system, so this is not an area you want to skimp on.
It’s very important to find a licensed electrical contractor with vast experience in electrical panel upgrades and installation. The work has many implications and ramifications that can affect the electrical system and ultimately pose great danger to your household. Some of the most common problems deriving from work that’s not up to par are:
- insecure wiring – if the wires are not properly secured or the staples are too tight around the wires, serious damage can occur, such as breakdown of the wire;
- wiring size issues – the wrong size of wires can cause overheating;
- improper wire length – electrical connections are made by stripping the wires and improper wire stripping can cause short circuits;
- connection issues – tight electrical connections are very important, as loose connections may lead to arcing and overheating, which in turn cause electrical fires and even personal injuries.
3. The Materials Needed
Once again, it’s important to stress that quality is of utmost importance when you need an electrical panel upgrade. Therefore the materials used in the process need to be of high quality as well, which drives up the cost.
When upgrading the panel, new wiring may also be required, adding to the cost. If the electrician discovers other issues that need fixing, like outdated fixtures, wiring, worn-out receptacles, or damaged circuits, then these are all additional materials to buy, so the cost goes up.
3 Reasons Why An Electrical Panel Upgrade is Worth The Cost
A panel upgrade can turn out to be costly indeed, but it’s definitely worth it. Panel upgrades are not only beneficial to the safety of your home, but they can actually increase the resale value of your property and attract more interest. Below, you’ll find the three most important reasons why the investment is worth it.
It keeps your home safe
Unfortunately, electrical fires happen every year, resulting in far too many tragedies. Approximately 51,000 electrical fires take place each year and they lead to an average of 500 deaths per year.
Outdated or overwhelmed electrical panels are a main cause of electrical fires. Having such a panel represents a danger to your family and home. Upgrading your panel is an investment worth making because it will keep your family safe and protect you from fires caused by a faulty electric system.
It increases your home’s value
To secure and preferably increase your home’s value on the real estate market, you need to constantly make improvements. Considering that an electrical panel has a lifespan of 20-30 years and the upgrade process itself involves a significant investment, the value of your property will also be improved.
If you decide to put your home up for sale, an upgraded electrical panel that has a high amperage will certainly serve as a key selling point, since more and more people have power hungry appliances and devices.
It protects your electrical system
Even if your panel isn’t faulty or at risk to cause electrical fires, it can still cause damage by ruining your electronics or newer appliances. If the panel can’t handle the new power needs and can’t keep up with the energy consumption, your breakers will constantly trip and your devices and appliances will be at risk.
It’s both a nuisance and an added expense if you have price appliances and electronic devices, such as laptops, smart TVs or game consoles. By investing in a new electrical panel, you can use as many devices as you need , without causing your breakers to trip.