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Does Your Electrical Panel Need Upgrading


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Upgrade an Electrical Panel to Ensure a Safer Electrical System: Upgraded Electrical Panels Provide Circuit Breaker Protection. Make plans to upgrade your main electrical service panel so that you can have a newer electrical panel that has a main circuit breaker.


Upgrading an Electrical Panel

  Electrical Question: I want to add a breaker to my panel to wire my basement, but my main electrical service breaker box does not have a main breaker.

  • The electric companies main outside box is locked. What can I do?
  • I would now also like to add a main breaker to my inside box for the future.

Thanks, Collin.

This electrical panel question came from: Collin, a Homeowner from Grand Rapids , Michigan.

Additional Comments: This site is so much better than the 3 books I bought. I wish I came here first.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Collin.

How to Upgrade an Electrical Panel to Ensure a Safer Electrical System

Application: Upgrading an Electrical Panel.
Skill Level: Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Electricians pouch of hand tools and the various power tools necessary for the electric panel upgrade.
Estimated Time: Depends on the exact type of the existing panel or fuse box, the replacement panel to be installed, the original wiring methods that were used for installing the existing wiring, and available access to the project area.
Precaution: This is an extensive project that should be performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor and typically requires specifications in accordance with the local utility company or electric service provider.
Notice: Making changes to the Home Electrical Service Panel should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Upgraded Electrical Panels Provide Circuit Breaker Protection

  • Collin, call the electrical utility company and ask them if they can turn the power off before you install the circuit and breaker.
  • Make plans to upgrade your main electrical service panel so that you can have a newer electrical panel that has a main circuit breaker.

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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.


FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “Does Your Electrical Panel Need Upgrading”
  1. chris says:

    Trying to specify new main service panel size. The existing panel is an old Zinsco that is still in good condition but the customer would like to replace it. They would also like to have enough capacity for a future car charger and solar inverter. The load calculations on the 814 sq. ft. house is 66.84 amps with a 30 amp car charger. I’m not sure how to calculate the solar inverter connection.
    Thanks Chris

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Chris,
      Because the solar inverter will actually be feeding power back into the electrical panel and then to the grid the physical space for the typical 2-pole breaker is more of a factor than the amperage of the panel. Given the size of the home you may consider installing a 125 amp panel. However if the home is situated on acreage or there is a future plan for increasing the size of the home then you may consider installing a 200 amp panel. The point is that the cost difference between a 125 amp and a 200 amp panel installation is not very much. On the other hand make sure you are staying on track with the customer and don’t try to “sell” them something they don’t need right now.
      Check with the local building department and utility company for additional factors which could reinforce your decision, and possibly have a solar power representative visit the location for their suggestions as well. Getting the panel located and ready for the solar tie in will be very helpful.
      I hope this helps,
      Dave


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