However, it’s much more than a switchboard for you to control your home’s power; your electrical panel has several important functions to keep your home safe and your electrical system running efficiently. If your electrical panel is old, outdated, or malfunctioning, an upgrade can ensure the safety of your family and help your system catch up with your needs. How do you know when the time has come to upgrade your electrical panel? Read on for some telltale signs.
YOUR HOME IS OLDER
As our reliance on technology has increased, so has our need for electricity in our homes. Older homes may have been designed before entertainment centers, air conditioners, and computers, meaning that their electrical panels weren’t meant to carry the load we’re now asking of them. Older homes were often built with 60-amp electrical panels, while homes these days come with 100- or 200-amp panels to meet our modern needs.
YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH OUTLETS
If you find yourself using extension cords regularly, that means your home doesn’t have enough outlets to meet your needs. Extension cords are designed for brief use, to give you power right when you need it – for example, you have a party and need to put a lamp outside for the evening. When used heavily, extension cords can wear out quickly and may become fire hazards. So instead of creating a tripping hazard with a network of surge protectors and extension cords, upgrade your electrical panel and add more outlets to your home!
FULL OF FUSES, NOT CIRCUIT BREAKERS
A home built in 1970? It might have a fuse-based electrical system instead of a circuit-based system. This is another outdated system not designed for modern needs. Circuit breakers are designed to “trip” when overloaded, which means they fail safely to stop the flow of electricity. Fuses melt, blow, or short-circuit when overloaded, which carries a small risk of fire.
YOU ARE FREQUENTLY TRIPPING BREAKERS
If you find yourself constantly having to go to your breaker box after tripping a circuit breaker, upgrading your electrical panel will end this problem. Circuits trip frequently when the electrical panel is old and worn out or malfunctioning. It can also mean that your old panel can’t handle your energy needs.
YOU’VE UPGRADED YOUR HOME AND/OR APPLIANCES (OR PLAN TO)
Your electrical panel was designed to meet the energy needs of your home as it was when it was constructed. If you’ve built an addition, turned the basement into livable space, or otherwise significantly increased your demands, you most likely need an upgrade so your electrical system can keep up.
YOUR ELECTRICAL SYSTEM IS OVERLOADED
Constantly overloading your electrical system not only makes it perform poorly, it’s also a safety hazard! If your electrical system is struggling to keep up, you will most likely notice some of these signs:
- Lights flicker frequently
- Lights dim when an appliance turns on
- Breakers trip or fuses blow frequently
- Some of your outlets are singed
- You smell burning around a switch or outlet
- Outlets emit sparks when you plug or unplug a cord
- You get shocked when plugging or unplugging cords