Breaker Panel Upgrades-When is it time?
Written By Joseph Farmer, President of GTS Electric Company
Q: We are in the process of selling our home and our realtor wants us to upgrade to a 200 Amp electrical service-is this necessary?
A: Today, Americans use an incredible amount of electricity. The demand for electrical current is a hundred times greater for the average household than it was half a century ago. The way a new home is equipped for electricity has changed drastically since then.
For instance, these days an air conditioning system can use more electricity than the whole house would have fifty years ago. And, because of all the new technology constantly being introduced into the world today, it’s not uncommon for us to have some sort of electronic device, be it a television, computer, printer, or some other electricity-eating gadget, powered on somewhere in the house twenty four hours a day.
And that doesn’t include the items we own that are perpetually turned on and drawing power, even when we’re not using them. All of this electricity running through a home puts a lot of stress on the home wiring, as well as on its electric panel.
Plus, today’s homes have many more “plug-ins” for appliances, electronics, and such, which are in much greater demand today than they were even 20 years ago. The fact is, if your home is over 20 years old, you should definitely look into upgrading your service panel.
And if you’re using extension cords and power strips so you can plug several things into one receptacle, it’s definitely time to look into getting a service panel upgrade. Doing so will allow each circuit to run straight from the distribution panel. It’s simply too much of a fire hazard to have so many things running from one place.
Here are some basic guidelines that will help you decide if upgrading your service panel is something you should do immediately. If your house has less than 200 amps of electricity available with the current service panel, or if it has screw in fuses, you most likely need an upgrade. In fact, most of the time, an insurance company won’t let you buy insurance for a house that still has the “screw-in” type fuses.
Another tell tale sign, and a pretty obvious one, that you need to upgrade your service panel is not being able to use one appliance, such as your microwave, without having to turn off another, like your coffee pot, so that you don’t “trip a breaker”. In this case, it’s likely your circuits are overloaded meaning it’s definitely time for a service panel upgrade.
A Very Important side note: Always consult a licensed professional electrician to do this work on your home or business. Service upgrades are far too dangerous to be “do it yourself” projects because of the fire hazards they pose, and because of the risk of electrocution.
We would be happy to take care of this for you! Give us a call at 262 367 2487 for a free consultation and estimate!