As a rule of thumb, electric panels need replacing every 25-40 years, so if your home is that age, there’s a likelihood that you will need to upgrade. However, there are other key signs to look out for that will tell you when your existing system is becoming outdated.
When it comes to electricity and wiring within a home, safety is paramount. Faulty wiring is one of the leading causes of fires in American homes. Generally, the older wiring is, the more likely it is to be faulty, but having your electric panel inspected regularly by a professional electrician will identify any issues.
INSTALLING NEW APPLIANCES
One of the primary reasons for upgrading an electric panel is because it simply does not have the capacity to deal with modern appliances. If you are intending to install a major new appliance to your home (such as an air conditioner or hot tub), your existing electric panel may not suffice.
If you add an air conditioner without upgrading your electric panel, then the power provided by your electric panel might not be enough, and the circuit breakers will keep tripping.
USE OF POWER STRIPS
As with fuse boxes, many electrical panels simply are not designed for modern electrical usage. With constant phone and laptop charging, televisions in every room, and other gadgets filling our homes, there’s simply more demand for electricity than was the case twenty years ago. A key piece of evidence for this is the limited number of wall sockets throughout homes.
If you find yourself using power strips or extension cords in your home, then it’s a strong sign that you are using more electricity than your home was designed for. In that instance, it may be time for an upgrade to the electrical panel.
CAN I DO IT MYSELF?
Since the bulk of the costs involved in upgrading an electric panel are labor, there is a natural temptation to look to cut costs by doing the work yourself. However, in some states, working on an electrical panel yourself is illegal.
Certainly, it can be extremely dangerous if you are not familiar with electrical wiring. In short, it is much better to leave this sort of work to a trained professional.