How Long Does an Electrical Panel Upgrade Take?

August 3, 2023
Electrical panel upgrade in Seattle, WA

Upgrading your home’s main electrical panel can provide many benefits by ensuring you have enough power for all of your major appliances and other devices and making your electrical system safer. It can also help overcome issues such as circuit breakers that constantly trip or lights that always flicker when you turn on your air conditioning or use a microwave or other high-power appliances. If you do need to have the electrical panel in your home upgraded, it’s obviously important that you have a good estimate of how long the work will take. In today’s post, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about electrical panel upgrades including the estimated timescale, how to know when it’s necessary and why it’s always important to have the work done by a licensed electrician.

Approximate Timescale for Upgrading an Electrical Panel

As when having any other work done on your home, the total time it will take to upgrade your electrical panel depends in large part on how much work needs to be done, the complexity of the job, and how many electricians are working on it at once. In most cases, the job will be done by two electricians working simultaneously as this makes the project much easier and quicker. It will normally take two electricians somewhere between four and eight hours to remove the old panel, install the new one, and then wire all of the circuits into the new electrical panel. If only one electrician is performing the work, it could potentially take anywhere from two to four days instead.

If any unforeseen issues arise during the project, it will obviously increase the time that it takes to complete the work. For instance, there may be times when the wiring on one or more circuits is damaged and the electricians will need to pull new wires and completely rewire the circuit. If you have a large home with lots of additional circuits, the job will also take longer than normal. The same can also be true if you’re installing a larger panel and moving all of the circuits over from an existing sub-panel into the new panel.

Moving the main panel from inside to outside can also take more time. At the very least, the electricians will need to pull all of the wires through your walls from the old panel and then run them outside to the new panel. In many cases, you may even need to have your entire home rewired when moving the panel outside, which will usually take a few days.

Once the new panel is installed, all of the circuits are wired into it and everything is ready to go, the electrical contractor will then need to contact your electricity provider so that they can then connect your home’s electrical service to the new panel. Depending on the local regulations and building codes, the new panel may also have to be inspected by the municipal electrical inspector before your electrical service can be connected. Luckily, both of these things can often be done that same day to ensure you don’t have to go without power.

Can You Upgrade or Replace an Electrical Panel on Your Own?

If you’re the DIY type, you may be wondering whether you can save some money by upgrading your electrical panel yourself. The answer to this question is most definitely a no for several important reasons. The first reason is that most places require you to get an electrical permit when upgrading a panel, and this is something that can only be applied for by a licensed, certified electrical contractor. If the local regulations require the new panel to be inspected, the electrical contractor will also have to schedule the inspection and be present for it.

If you were to perform the work yourself, your electrical system would no longer conform to the National Electrical Code which could create problems if you ever try to sell your house. Having any major electrical work performed without the proper permit, including upgrading your panel, can also result in steep fines. In this case, you would then be required to have all of the work you did torn out and redone by a licensed electrician.

Another reason you should never try to upgrade your electrical panel or do any other work on your electrical system on your own is that it can be extremely dangerous. There is always a major risk of electrocution if you don’t know what you’re doing, and your new panel can also be a major fire hazard if not installed and wired correctly.

How to Know If Your Electrical Panel Needs Upgraded

Electrical panels should typically be replaced every 25 years or so. If your panel is this age or older, it’s definitely time to have it replaced. Another reason you may need to upgrade your electrical panel is if you need more amperage than your current panel provides. Many older homes only have 60-amp service, which is nowhere near sufficient to run many larger modern appliances like a central AC unit. In this case, upgrading to a 100-amp or 200-amp panel will ensure you have enough amperage to power everything in the home without any interruptions.

Upgrading to a new panel is almost always necessary when adding a solar power system to your home. There are also times when an electrical panel upgrade is necessary simply because there isn’t enough room in the existing panel to add additional circuits. For instance, if you’re adding central air conditioning to a home that doesn’t already have it, it will be necessary to install a new 240-volt circuit in the panel. The same is true if you want to add an EV charging station to your home or even add another microwave as all of these things must be on their own dedicated 240-volt circuits. If there is no room in the panel to add extra circuits, you will either need to upgrade to a larger panel or have a new sub-panel installed.

The condition of your electrical panel or any electrical issues your home has can also help you determine when your panel needs to be upgraded. If the panel feels hot to the touch, has any rust or visible singeing or makes any humming or buzzing noises, you definitely want to replace it as soon as possible for safety reasons. Issues like lights that flicker or frequently go dim can also indicate that your current panel doesn’t have sufficient amperage to power your entire home.

Seattle’s Best Electrical Contractor

At Brennan Electric, we are your number-one choice if you need any electrical services in Seattle or the Puget Sound area. We specialize in electrical panel upgrades and all types of electrical repairs and installations. Whether you want to install an EV charging station, a whole-home surge protector or a whole-home generator or run wiring to your new hot tub, our team is always ready to help. We have been proudly serving the community for more than 35 years so contact us today to get the quality electrical work you need for a fair price.

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