6 Factors Affecting the Cost of Your Electrical Panel Upgrade

Jul 26, 2021
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One of the most common reasons for power outages is due to household electrical panel wiring problems or malfunctioning electrical panels. When this happens, the homeowner faces a cost of about $1000 for an electrician and their crew to come in and fix it. It’s a major commitment, and one that you might be wondering about the cost of an electrical service upgrade before making your next move. 

What is an electrical panel?

Your electrical panel or fuse box regulates the flow of power to all the different outlets and circuits in your home or building. For safety purposes, electrical panels need replacing every 25-40 years, on average. If you live in an old house, you know what to do. That being said, it is important to keep an eye on your panel and make sure that if there are any changes, you have them fixed right away and get a replacement.

The cost of an electric service upgrade can vary depending on a number of factors. Whether you're looking for a basic upgrade or major improvement, there are several factors that affect the cost of installing a new fuse box. There's no sense in spending money if you don't need it, especially when we're talking about your safety! This is why companies which provide reliable electrical services will often give you an estimate over the phone or in person before they start work on your electrical panel. In this blog post, we'll go over the 6 most common factors that affect the cost of an electric panel upgrade and some important electrical tips.

1. The size of your electrical panel

electrical panel

This is the first factor to consider when deciding on upgrading your electrical panel. The size of your household or office will determine the size of the fuse box required. You may need a different sized panel for every room in your home, and it's important to know how many amps you'll be using before choosing the right one. A larger house with more electronics or appliances will need a larger panel that can handle the load. 

This is true for both 120-volt and 240-volt panels. The difference in price between these two types depends on how much space you have available for the panel. If you're only using a few outlets, then it may be worth looking into cheaper 120-volt panels which can save anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on your electrical needs and the size of the house.

If you need more than 20 amps per 240 volts then you'll likely want to go with the more expensive 240-volt panels. These are larger, but they work for households with a lot of appliances that will be used simultaneously (washing machine and dishwasher).

You may also need to upgrade your breaker panel if you're working with an older house or building where the electrical system is outdated. If this applies to you then it's likely that you'll need a new panel no matter what. If you're working with an electrician, they'll help make this determination and let you know what kind of panels are needed before installation begins.

2. The type of panel to be installed

electrical panel boards

The cost of the electrical panel replacement itself is a big one! You can easily spend hundreds, or even thousands on an electric service upgrade if you're not careful about what type of electrical panel you get. Breaker panels typically are more expensive than fuse panels because they provide better protection against fires. However, the cost can vary based on your location as well as the current age and condition of your breaker or fuse panel.

There are two different types of panels in the market - one that's 240 volts (NEMA) or 208/120 volts (IEC). The higher voltage means it will require heavier wiring and studs, which can increase the cost of the installation process.

Breaking down the cost of an upgrade to a breaker panel can be tricky and will vary depending on how much electricity you use. You may need to hire a professional electrician for this job, which is about $150-$250 per hour (for labor).

The type or condition of your existing service panel also is a factor. If you have an old breaker box that has to be replaced then there is a higher chance for things like short circuits as well as missing ground connections. This all increases both the cost of the installation and what it will take for them to do the work.

There are different materials necessary to do the electrical panel upgrade. You may need to purchase new breakers, or fuse holders depending on the type of electrical panel you're working with.

Another thing to consider when getting a new electrical panel is the cost of power. If you're going from a fuse or circuit breaker to an IEC 240-volt service, then it's important to know that this will require more amps and generate more electricity usage (which can be costly). A home with several appliances in use simultaneously may need a separate meter for the electrical panel.

*Note: if your home is older than 1978, it's likely that you have a fuse panel and will need to hire an electrician.

3. The distance from the electrical box to the panel

electrical panel box

Thousands of products and services are standardized worldwide for safety reasons. The standardization ensures not only quality but that the best possible measures are taken to reduce accidents from occurring. One example is in regards to an electrical panel, which sets how far away the junction box should be from other components.

The distance from a junction box to an electrician's required location for installation of a new service panel should be at least seven feet. It is the recommended distance for a breaker panel and no less than seven feet for a fuse panel, which includes room needed to work. Anything less than that is too close and can put people at risk.

Electrical panels are generally installed on a wall in your basement or garage, with the box for all of the switches and outlets located right next to it. The farther you have to go from that electrical panel to reach those boxes, the more expensive an upgrade will be because additional wire must be run from one location (the panel) over long distances to the other (the switch or outlet).

The distance from your electrical panel to your outlets and switches can play a significant role in how much it costs you. The longer that wire has to travel, the more expensive those renovations will be.

So if you're considering moving an electrical panel but want to know whether or not it's worth the cost, calculate the total distance between your electrical panel and all of your outlets as well as switches. The greater this distance is, the more expensive it will be to make that switch.

4. The cost to upgrade the existing panel wires

electrical panel wirings

If your electrical panel is more than 15 years old, it's time to consider getting a replacement. Out-of-date panels are increasing in price and they're not up to code so you might have an issue with wiring too. To get a better idea of what the cost will be for a new electrical panel, speak to professionals about whether or not new wiring needs to be installed.

New wiring affects the cost of your electrical panel upgrade because it changes how much materials will be used. If you need new wiring, then the price is usually more than if you don't. The easiest way to know for sure what's going on with your house and whether or not this needs to happen is by talking with installers that are licensed in your area.

For safety reasons, you need to consider the number of circuit breakers in your service panel. A larger service requires more circuit breakers which will increase the cost of the installation process. A smaller breaker box may not require as many extra features such as ground fault circuit interrupters, arc fault detection and ground connections.

The number of circuits and circuit breaker in your house plays a significant factor in your electrical system setup. If you have a lot of things, like appliances, plugged into an electrical circuit, then there is likely some overload in that area. This can cause problems with other areas of power as well as increasing the risk of fire hazards so before.

5. Your location

location pin

Your location can affect the cost to upgrade in a variety of ways. Some areas may be difficult to access for installation such as mountains and water access points, which might lead to higher installation costs. The main reason for this is it will take more time for your electrician to get there and the safety hazards.

Another factor is the cost of living in that location - if you're close to a forest or lake, then this typically means higher labor costs because they may need to hire someone who has qualifications and experience with these hazardous areas. For example, if you live in the mountains with lots of trees and there are no nearby roads or driveways that can accommodate equipment delivery trucks, it will take more time and money to install your electrical panel upgrade on-site.

It's also worth noting that some contractors might charge you more to install in a difficult location. Additionally, if you live close to an expensive area (for example: near a lake or forest with animals), then it's likely that your contractor will charge you more to install your electrical panel upgrade.

The cost of labor also involved in the installation or conversion process depends on where your electrician is coming from (or if you're doing it yourself). There may be different charges for the installation or conversion of a panel. For example, if they have to install the new electrical service box for you in your attic then there will be an additional charge on top of what it costs for them to come out and do the work.

6. The meter base

electrical meter box

When you're going with a new meter base, your electrician will need to know this so that he can build it or modify an existing one. The existing one needs to come out and it takes some time, especially if there are underground wiring issues that need to be addressed. It's not as simple as just bolting something on top of what is already there - and if there are any issues, then this needs to be addressed first.

If your home or business has an overhead meter, then your electrician will need to know how high up it is and what kind of clearance there is for access. This becomes an issue because if the panel needs to be installed on top of this existing one, then he'll need to have enough height clearance for the installation process, which can be difficult if there are high power wires running through.

If you're also putting a new meter on top of an old wire, your contractor is going to need to know the height and width of this meter base so he can build it as well. If there's no room for him to set up shop - or if he needs more space than what's available at the site (i.e., if your high power wires are running through) - then he may need to modify an existing meter base instead or build a separate one that can be repurposed for the installation process.

Once the height clearance is determined, then your electrician will have a better idea of what type of meter base you'll want: one that's securely bolted onto another existing panel or on top of it? This is also a big factor that may affect the cost of the panel upgrade. He may also find that some other wiring issues need to be addressed first.

Can I do the upgrade myself?

One of the most common questions homeowners have is if they should upgrade their electrical panel wiring themselves. To answer the question, it is worth noting that wiring a panel on your own is illegal in some states. This is the reason why it is better to seek assistance from a company which offers reliable electrical services to avoid accidents and serious injuries. An electrical service upgrade should be done by a professional.

In Conclusion

Upgrading your electrical panel is something that you need to take seriously. You don't want to start the process and find out later on down the line it was a waste of money because your needs changed or your budget didn't allow for the type of service needed.

The best thing you can do is speak with someone who's knowledgeable about electrical service upgrades and take the time to research your options before getting started.

The cost to upgrade your electrical panel will vary based on a number of factors. For starters, you’ll need to know the size and type of panel that is currently being used in order to determine if an upgrade will be necessary.

In addition, it's important to consider how far away the existing electrical box is from the new panel installation point as well as any other wiring upgrades needed for this project. And don't forget about location- different areas may have varying permit requirements which could affect costs too!

All these variables can make your head spin when trying to calculate what exactly all this work might cost so reach out today at Long Electric. We are ready and waiting with accurate quotes and helpful electrical tips so you'll never be left guessing again.

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