Does Your New Home Require an Electrical Panel Upgrade?
Many home buyers who purchase older properties will at some point find themselves faced with the question: does this home need a new electrical panel? While not all older homes need a panel upgrade, quite a few of them will require it -- especially when adding larger, modern appliances.
Decades ago, the average household required far less electricity than the average household today. As a result, older homes that have not had a panel upgrade in the last few decades are likely to need one now.
Warning Signs of Inadequate Electrical Service
Often, older homes with unsafe wiring and inadequate electrical service will have obvious problems, such as:
- The fuses or circuits blow regularly. Circuits trip and fuses blow when too much electricity is running through the wires. If you find yourself making regular trips to the fuse box or circuit breaker box, this is a sure sign that your home doesn't get enough electricity for your needs.
- The lights dim when major appliances kick on. You'll notice this most frequently when big appliances like the air conditioner come on.
- Some appliances must be shut off to run other appliances. You shouldn't have to play musical appliances just to run your household. If you find yourself turning off some appliances just to use others, you probably need a circuit breaker upgrade.
Improvements Lead to Electrical Upgrades
Even if your home seems to be getting adequate electrical service upon move in, you may need to upgrade your electrical panel if you decide to make improvements to your home. Many modern appliances require a dedicated circuit to function properly. If you should decide to install a new air conditioner or replace your electric stove, you may need to upgrade your electrical panel. Talk to your contractor about the electrical requirements at the time of renovation.
A typical, modest sized household can run on a 100 amp service. Homes that have less than 100 amps are likely to need an upgrade. If you're not sure whether or not your home has adequate electrical service, or if you have concerns about the safety of your home's wiring, have a certified electrician evaluate your home's panel box. Your electrician can tell you definitively whether or not your new home gets adequate electrical service, and if it's safe to use.