Your home's electrical power is controlled by the electric panel in your home. Your service panel is what holds the different breakers for various appliances and areas of your home. Panels have a limit as to how much power that it can send throughout your home. Therefore, if you need more power, your electrical panel will likely need to be upgraded. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if an upgrade is necessary:
How Old Is Your Electrical Panel?
One of the most common things that someone considers when deciding whether to upgrade something is its age. According to the life expectancy chart issued by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), an electrical service panel can last 60 years. However, it is important to remember that this doesn't necessarily mean that it will last that long. There are many factors that come into play when considering the current health status of your electrical panel and whether you should take the time to upgrade it or not. This includes anything from excessive dust to corrosion.
Are You Dealing with Tripped Breakers?
If you are constantly tripping a breaker when more than one primary appliance in the home is operating, then your service panel doesn't have enough power to distribute. In order to stop tripping these breakers so that you can use your appliances freely, you need more space in your panel for additional power.
Does Your Panel Have Low Amperage?
According to Georgia Power, the average household uses wiring that carries 120 or 240 volts. To determine how many watts a circuit can handle, you need to multiply the volts by the amps. For example, a 120-volt, 20-amp circuit breaker can handle up to 2,400 watts. This is sufficient for small appliances and some major appliances. However, most major appliances require far more ampage due to the wattage requirements to run. For instance, a clothes dryer takes nearly 5,000 watts to operate and an oven can require up to 8,000 watts. Therefore, if you have 120-volt wire and only 20-amp breakers, you likely do not have enough amperage to properly support your home systems.
Have You Recently Remodeled or Renovated?
Whether you've added a new HVAC unit, a clothes dryer or two bedrooms, your home's electrical service panel may no longer be sufficient to handle the amount of electricity that is now needed to flow throughout the home. Any big changes like these means that extra power will be pulled from the electrical panel. If that additional power isn't there to be drawn, you may be unable to enjoy the benefits of these new home additions.
If you resonated with any of the above or your home's lights are flickering or dimming for no apparent reason, it may be time to contact an expert electrician to inspect your home's electrical service panel and see if it is time for a panel upgrade.