The Pros and Cons of Upgrading an Electrical Panel

An electrical panel is one of the most valuable components in your home’s electrical system. It supplies the power needed for lighting in each utility room of your home.

It also contains circuits that carry power to appliances and other outlets. 

Just like anything else, electrical panels experience wear and tear. Even if you take utmost good care and follow instructions, your electrical panel may still need upgrading.

Unfortunately, many people ignore electrical panel upgrades because they consider them unnecessary, worse, or costly. 

In fact, a poorly functioning or outdated panel can cause more risks than you can imagine. That said, a well-maintained electrical panel can serve between 20 to 30 years.

But still, you need to check it over and over again. Yes, as you continue using much power in your daily routines, a 30 years electrical panel may not handle all your appliances properly. 

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of an electrical panel upgrade, the upgrading process, and more. 

Signs That You Should Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

An electrical panel is not meant to last forever. Your electrical panel needs an upgrade if you notice the following signals;

  • If you have not replaced your electrical panel in over 30 years

Generally, 30 years is the deadline for most electrical panels. 

  • If your circuit main breaker keeps tripping every time

A well-functioning circuit breaker panel doesn’t trip. Unless they are old or overloaded. 

  • If the electrical panel overheats

Realistically, properly installed wires don’t heat up easily. So, this might be a sign that your electrical panel needs an upgrade. 

  • If the outlets are noisy 

That is, they make buzzing and hamming sounds. Your electrical panel may also make some cracking sounds, especially the old ones. This is a sure sign that your electrical panel needs an upgrade.

  • If you notice burning smells and sparks

Electrical systems tend to short spark, which is unusual. But if you notice frequent sparks, this may be a sign that your electrical panel is out of order. Also, pay attention to strange smells. 

  • Electrical shocks

Mild shocks mean faulty wiring signs or poor installation. This is especially true when touching the switch or outlet. 

  • Dim lights when you switch on appliances

This is a clear indication that your electrical panel isn’t equipped to handle the electrical needs. Ideally, this is an overloaded circuit trying to funnel power from other parts to the appliances. 

These are all reasons you should get your breaker box upgraded. It is an important thing to have an upgraded panel that can handle all levels of power your appliance needs.

It is also essential to have the one that can satisfy up-to-date standards. 

The Process of Upgrading Your Panel

A panel upgrade is a technical process that requires a licensed technician. It is electrical work that can last up to ten hours, depending on the complexity of an update. 

Below is a step-by-step guide on an electrical panel upgrade

  1. Schedule an appointment with your qualified technician to give you a free estimate. 
  2. Upon arrival, your skilled technician will evaluate the size of your new electrical panel. He will also determine the number of circuits to add. 
  3. Your service provider will then coordinate with the utility company, asking permission to work. 
  4. The electrical company disconnects power. 
  5. Your service provider upgrades the electrical panel. He or she will also install wiring to your circuits. 
  6. The company restores your power services.

There are several options to upgrade your panel.

  • You can upgrade the circuits so that they can meet the required electrical safety standards. 
  • You can replace damaged circuits to reduce the risk of electrical shocks
  • You can replace the circuits with those that can handle more power
  • You can replace damaged or older larger homes components
  • Service electrical panel upgrade to bring more amount of energy into your modern home
  • Add circuits for more outlets

What are the advantages of upgrading your electrical panel?

Service panel upgrades host a lot of benefits beyond expedience and value for money. Here are the leading eight.

Improved safety

An outdated or poorly-functioning electrical panel can easily heat up and catch fire. And this can pose a great danger to the entire property.

Even if your insurance can cover the damages, there are other precious items that an insurance company cannot help.

Furthermore, if you have children in the house, you are posing an immense risk to their health and life. 

Do you know over 51000 cases of electrical fire are reported in the USA every year? That is why upgrading your panel is something you should consider seriously.

Yes, because it will keep your family and home safe. Today’s panels are engineered with better safety hazard features.

These panels are less likely to catch fire, saving you from the financial property menaces.

Improved home value

If you want to increase the value of your home, you need to make significant improvements. This is especially true for those invested in the real estate market. 

Did you know your upgraded panel can be a primary selling point if you decide to sell your property? Yes, it has high amperage, and you are more likely to receive the asking price. 

Better electrical performance

Do your electrical circuits frequently trip for no good reason?

Do you experience shocks when turning on switches?

Do your lights go dim when you turn on other appliances?

Upgrading your electrical panel will take care of these serious issues. It will deliver a seamless electrical performance by offering consistent energy throughout your home. 

Insurance compliance

Insurance companies require homeowners to have a specific amp rating for their panel before being considered compliant.

For instance, an insurance company may demand having your electrical panel rated at least 80 amps. 

So, if your electrical panel is rated below the specified rate, then you are not compliant with the company policies.

The company may not cater to any type of damage that might occur if your failure to meet the guidelines. 

Improved circuit capacity

So, you are planning a major renovation to your home’s electrical panel and would like to add some heavy appliances?

You might want a new panel or upgraded panel for smooth performance. There are higher chances that your old panel was installed to handle the appliances you had at that time.

Because you have added them, you want an upgraded panel with higher circuit capacity. 

An upgraded electrical panel is required in many renovations. For instance, when you renovate your kitchen, adding more hot tubs and air conditioners, upgrading your electrical panel is the best way to go.

Failure to upgrade means your circuit will begin to overload. 

More outlets

Nowadays, electrical panels are equipped with more circuits, thus more outlets.

This means you can now use more appliances without any stress. Even better, these type of panels offers consumers maximum choice, so you can select circuits for specific high-power machines.

For instance, you can set aside a circuit and outlet for your water heaters, which consume plenty of energy. 

Peace of mind

With an upgraded panel, you have no worries about unnecessary electric shocks, circuit overloading, and more.

An upgraded panel will also reduce the electrical fire hazards, which may damage your property and people. 

Safety of your home’s electrical systems

While a faulty electrical panel will increase the risk of an electrical fire, it can also cause damage by destroying your appliances.

It is an extra expense, especially if you possess pricey electronic devices such as game consoles, TVs, laptops, etc. With an upgraded panel, you can use many devices without stress. 

What are the Disadvantages of Electrical Panels? 


There is no doubt that upgrading your electrical panel is expensive. The approximate cost of upgrading your electrical panel ranges between $2500 and $4500.

But this depends on factors like the service provider hired or unforeseen electrical problems that might be discovered all along.

It also depends on other factors such as the degree of complexity and the amperage. 

Some of the reasons why upgrading your panels are expensive is the materials needed. A service panel upgrade is something that should be taken seriously.

For this reason, the materials used should be of high quality to ensure long-lasting performance.

Fixing outdated fixtures and worn-out receptacles and adding new wiring are combination repairs that accelerate the upgrading cost. 

It is time-consuming

Adding circuit breakers is a one-hour job. Installing subpanels will take about 2-3 hours.

But, if you are considering a serious upgrade, it will take a long time (almost half a day). This is especially true if you need to replace the main circuit breaker or the fuse box. 

Electrical panel upgrade FAQs

How much does an electrical panel upgrade cost?

It depends on the level of power it delivers. For instance, upgrading to 200 amps can cost around $2000 to $2500. However, never let the expense deter you. The value and safety of your home matter. 

What does an electrical panel upgrade entail? 

There is a wide range of panel upgrades depending on your specific needs and requirements.

Some are simple such as adding circuits. Others are complex, like replacing the fuse box. Talk to your experienced electrician to determine the broad of your panel upgrade. 

What is the difference between a fuse box and an electrical panel? 

The electric panel is the main box that controls power and electrical wiring at your home. It contains switches that control electricity to specific circuits.

On the other hand, a fuse box is located inside or outside the electric panel. It has fuses that appear like small bulbs. 

Pros and Cons of an Electrical Panel

An electrical panel upgrade can instantly improve the value of your home and appearance. You will be enchanted by the difference it can make in your home. 

If you are constantly experiencing flickering electrical problems, it is time to upgrade your panel. If your outlets don’t seem to work well, don’t procrastinate.

Upgrading your electrical panel can surely help you in several ways than you can imagine, especially when it comes to your family and home safety.

It is a good idea to always call a service provider once you notice any issue with your electrical panel. While it is costly, its benefits can surely enhance the quality of your life. 


by Richard Kelly

Having experienced significant success as a house flipper, I am often approached with questions about all things home improvement. That’s why I decided to start this site. My objective is to share all of the insights I have accumulated over the years so other people can design the homes of their dreams.