How to Know the Right Time for a Panel Upgrade

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If you are wondering when you should upgrade your electrical panel, then you are in the right place!

Everything in your home at some point will need some sort of upgrade or replacement, including the electrical panel. This panel does some very important tasks like distributing the incoming power where it is needed. The total circuit of the electrical panel determines the overall electrical capacity of your home.

Often, people do not take into consideration that their electrical panel can become ineffective or damaged from age or normal wear. If that happens, then your electrical system may not function safely and efficiently. 

Signs That You Need a New Electrical Panel

Here are some of the signs that indicate that it is time for an Electrical Panel Upgrade.

Flickering Lights

Dimming or flickering lights can be a sign that you need an electrical panel replacement. However, sometimes, flickering lights can also be caused by a disruption of power or a heavy thunderstorm, which has nothing to do with your electrical panel. But if the flickering lights are happening regularly, then it is your electrical panel’s fault.

Burning or Melting

Any burning or melting signs of the electrical panel or near the power outlets can be an indication that your electrical panel needs to be replaced. The burning or melting can also mean there is something wrong with the wiring or a circuit breaker has to be replaced. Other than that, burned or melted electrical panels can pose a serious risk of fire.

Appliances Causing Breaker Tripping When Used

You may see your appliances suddenly shutting down because of your electrical panel. For example, you may try to use the microwave and the hairdryer at the same time, only to have them both shut down. If the circuit breaker is working just fine, then there must have been a surge of electricity which is causing the breaker to trip. 

If you are often facing appliance shutting down issues, that is a good indication that you need to replace your panel.

New Electric Appliances 

You might forget about your electrical panel when installing a new device or appliance. Although small devices like coffee makers will not have any effect on your electrical panel, a modern washer or dryer can have a heavy impact. 

You should consider getting a new circuit breaker panel before you buy large appliances. An electrical panel upgrade can cost you about $1,500 to 3,000 USD depending on your home’s needs.

The Panel Becomes Hot

Unlike any other electronic device such as a laptop or light bulb, an electrical panel should not generate heat when it is working. Put your hand on the outside part of the panel. If you feel warmth, this is a sign that your panel can’t keep up with the total electrical usage of your home.

You will also notice a hot smell, but that can be caused by bad wiring. Any heat near the electrical panel is a sign to call your electrician as this can cause a fire hazard.

The Panel Is Old

Fuse boxes operate like a new circuit breaker, but there are risks if you use only one of them. An old fuse box has more of a fire risk than a circuit breaker. Whenever a surge makes a fuse burns out, fuse replacement is mandatory. The circuit breaker’s switch can immediately restore power if the power is cut.

You should upgrade your panel if you still have a fuse box. Also if the whole panel is more than 20 years old, then you must consider changing it. Older panels will do you no good as they can not keep up with a modern home’s electricity needs. 

The Breaker Does Not Reset

Usually, a tripped breaker is easy to reset and go on with your day. But keep in mind that if you try to reset a breaker but then see it go off again, you have to upgrade your panel. This reset-related malfunction can indicate problems with your circuit breaker.

Excessive Power Strip Use

One to two power strips in a home is not a problem, but many power strips or extension cords can cause a heavy burden on the electrical panel and also the whole system. Utilizing many extension cords can also make the panel malfunction eventually, so it is best to upgrade the panel to support the appliances that you use in your home. 

Benefits of a New Panel

You should know the benefits of replacing your old electrical panel with a new one. Here are some of them:

  • A new electrical panel can increase your home’s safety.
  • You will have more consistent power.
  • The upgrade will add additional circuits so you can use more appliances.
  • The upgraded panel can increase the total value of your home.
  • You will be able to use your appliances more efficiently and effectively.

Overall, you will have a better experience living in your house when using appliances. Also, the upgraded panel can decrease your monthly insurance costs too!


If you start to see any of the signs mentioned above in your home, you should change the panel soon. Do not ever ignore any issues related to the electrical panel. Call in a professional electrician to inspect your panel and get their advice regarding replacing it.

Sophie Turner
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