Upgrading Your Home Electrical Panel
The most common reasons for needing to upgrade your home electrical panel (AKA breaker box or fusebox) are
- Potentially Unsafe Conditions
- Inadequate Capacity for the items in your house
We’ll cover each, below.
Ensuring the Safety of your Home’s Electrical Panel
As a homeowner, you are safety-conscious for the sake of your family, and for the house itself. You make sure there’s no ice on the porch in winter time, the Christmas tree is watered, all the railings are solid, and you have a fire escape plan. You wouldn’t use electrical cords with bare wire showing. All of this is great, but have you considered the integrity and condition of your electrical panel, AKA breaker box or fusebox?
According to a 2019 report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Electrical failures or malfunctions were the second leading cause of U.S. home fires in 2012-2016 (behind fires caused by unattended equipment), accounting for 13% of home structure fires. 44,880 home fires involving electrical failure or malfunction each year in 2012-2016 caused an estimated average of 440 civilian deaths and 1,250 civilian injuries each year in 2012-2016, as well as an estimated $1.3 billion in direct property damage per year.
Home Insurance companies know that your electrical panel is a relatively high-risk source of house fires and even electrical shock. In fact, many companies won’t insure your home at all if it has certain brand names and ages of panels. These are listed in the table below. Some other companies won’t cover any damage caused by the defective panels. If you have any of these, have a Licensed Electrician inspect the installation as soon as possible; it is highly likely it needs to be replaced.
- Federal Pacific – found in homes built from about 1950 to 1980.
- Zinsco – used throughout the 1970s.
- Challenger – used during the 1980s and 1990s.
- GTE-Sylvania that were installed during the 1980s and 1990s.
Also, if your panel is over 30 years old or there is frequent “blowing” of any breakers, you should have it inspected. Screwed-down wire connectors can develop electrical resistance, causing excessive heat and loss of power delivered to your devices. The same goes for twisted connections that may be in the panel.
Increasing the Capacity of your Panel
If you have an older home, you may have a 100 amp service electrical panel, or even only 60 amps. If you plan or have made any of these improvements then this capacity is not adequate for proper operation of all the devices and for safety. Many of these simply weren’t in common existence when the home was built.
- Electric car charger
- Swimming pool
- Air conditioning
- The home was enlarged
- Increased heating capacity
- On-demand water heater
The average home in the area requires a 200 amp panel or greater. By the way, AMP is an electrical term like GPM or gallons per minute of water flow in plumbing terms. It is the volume of electricity, literally a number of electrons per second flowing through a wire. OHM can determine the capacity of electrical panel you need for the conditions and electrical equipment in your house as well as for future plans you may have.
If you want to determine the “ampacity” of your existing panel, use the lower of the number of amps listed on the inside of the panel’s door and the number on the largest, main circuit breaker.
OHM Electric is familiar with all of these issues and their technical details. OHM is here to ensure your electrical panel is safe, and has ample capacity. Contact OHM today!