7 Signs That You Need an Electrical Panel Upgrade

When was the last time you took a look at your electrical panel? Unless you’ve ever overloaded an outlet with electronics and blown a breaker (i.e., tripped a safety switch), chances are it was when you moved in. 

If you’re not familiar with the electrical panel in your home, it’s that box filled with switches, which are also called breakers and, in order homes, fuses. Electrical panels are often placed out of the way, whether that be in your garage, basement, or a closet, for example. In most cases, this panel will serve your home well for many years.

However, with modern homeowners placing ever-increasing demands on electrical systems to support a wide range of appliances, lighting, computer equipment, mobile devices, and smart home components, it’s not unusual that more and more people are having issues with their panels.

Here are a few ways to know it’s time for an upgraded panel that satisfies your modern electrical demands.

Your House Is Old

Twenty years ago, nobody had a smartphone or a tablet. Homes weren’t equipped with Alexas (or other virtual assistant devices), Ring doorbells, or any of the many smart home devices used today to control lighting and electronics remotely.

If you enjoy some or all of these twenty-first-century appliances and you live in a home that’s more than a couple of decades old, it’s not a bad idea to ask Alexa to find you an “electrician near me.” The professionals can help you determine whether a system upgrade is the best option to keep your home safe and functional.

Your Lights Flicker

When you place more demand on your electrical system than it’s designed to support, a few different things can happen. You may not trip the breakers right off the bat, but you could start to notice that some electrical devices or fixtures, such as your lights, aren’t working like they should.

If running the microwave and your stand mixer at the same time makes your lights flicker or tremor, it’s definitely time to call your electrician and consider an electrical panel upgrade.

You’re Constantly Tripping Breakers

You walk in the house, flip on the lights, and turn on the TV. Suddenly, you hear a big pop and the room goes dark. This means you’ve tripped the breaker.

Sure, it’s easy enough to flip the breakers back on and try to be mindful of how many appliances you’re using at once. But if you’re constantly clomping to the basement to reset your panel, it’s definitely time to call the pros. They’ll tell you whether electrical panel repair or replacement is needed to fix the problem.

Your Get Your Panel Repaired… A Lot

Replacing an electrical panel could set you back a pretty penny, so you may want to keep the one you have as long as possible. That said, you could end up throwing away a lot of money on electrical panel repairs if your panel is outdated or defective.

If it seems like you’re spending a fortune replacing blown fuses, or you’re calling an electrician every other month to repair the latest electrical snafu, it might be time to consider an upgrade. In a lot of cases, upgrading to a new electrical panel that better meets your needs can actually be more cost-effective than keeping your old panel.

You Want to Add Outlets or Lighting Fixtures

If you have empty spaces on your current electrical panel, you may already be able to add new outlets or replace outdated dome ceiling lights with modern, recessed lighting. However, any time you add new outlets, it’s wise to make sure you have a system in place to handle the increased demand. This could mean upgrading your electrical panel or even overhauling your system completely. 

You Smell Odors and See Discoloration

There are few things more frightening to homeowners than the prospect of an electrical fire. In some cases, if one of these fires is imminent, you’ll get warning signs. If you notice darkening or discoloration around electrical outlets or detect an acrid, burning smell near outlets or the electrical box, it’s definitely cause for alarm. Call your electrician immediately!

If everything’s working properly, then electrical components that are overloaded should trip the breaker. However, before that happens, the switches may heat up to the point where they actually burn wiring or connections, causing a distinct smell and browning or blackening outlets. If left untreated, such problems can lead to electrical fire, so it’s incredibly important to address the warning signs immediately.

Your Electrician Recommends an Upgrade

Whether you find yourself dealing with electrical problems related to the age or inadequacy of your current system, or you’ve decided to do some home renovations, your electrician may suggest an electrical panel repair or replacement. Some home remodeling projects will require it in order to meet building codes and secure needed permits.

It’s always best to listen to the professionals when it comes to your complex home systems. Upgrades to your electrical system are particularly important for maintaining a safe and functional structure. If you want, you can always get a second opinion or multiple quotes, but you should never ignore a professional electrician’s recommendation to upgrade your electrical panel.

Think you may be in need of a panel upgrade? Give Xpert Electric a call!