Electrical Panels 101: When to Replace and How Much to Budget
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In today’s world, most of us take electricity for granted. We flip on a light and expect it to work without issue. So, when our toaster oven and portable heater start tripping the switches, we may become frustrated and panic. The first question is usually: is it time for some electrical work? But that query is soon followed by the worry of how much it will cost.
Although numerous variables are involved in determining the exact price of electrical upgrades, there are some general guidelines that Delaware homeowners can look to for a reliable estimate. We discuss them below in our guide to affordable electrical panel replacement.
Is my electrical panel on the fritz?
Before diving into pricing breakdowns, let’s discuss when you need to consider replacing your electrical panel.
As the backbone of your entire household’s electrical system, your panel must be in top condition. A faulty panel or one that doesn’t provide enough amperage to your home will cost you money on your energy bills and can be a fire hazard. The Electrical Safety Foundation International recently reported that approximately 51,000 home electrical fires occur each year, resulting in loss of life and billions of dollars in property damage.
The frequency of electrical fires means you should never ignore the signs that you need an electrical panel upgrade, which may include the following:
- Experiencing frequent power surges
- Noticing lights flickering on a regular basis
- The panel appears rusty
- The panel makes strange sounds
- The panel is hot or generates smoke
- The panel is more than 30 years old
If you observe any of these signs, please don’t hesitate to contact a professional electrician to take a look and eliminate a potentially serious fire hazard.
How much does an electrical panel cost in Delaware?
Electrical panel replacement costs differ throughout the country. In Delaware, electricians typically charge $1,000-$3,000 for a replacement, depending on a few key factors:
Different houses require different levels of electricity to function safely and efficiently. The bare minimum required is 100 amps, but most modern homes need 150-200 amps. The higher the amperage, the more the panel replacement will cost. We go into more detail about costs by amp below.
In some cases, electrical panels must be relocated. This may be due to accessibility issues, safety concerns, code violations, or remodeling. When a panel needs to be moved further than six feet from its original location, the upgrade will be costlier.
Electrical panels are frequently not up to code in older homes. In Delaware, new constructions home panels must include arc faults and GFCI breakers. If your panel needs to be moved more than six feet and it doesn’t currently meet these code requirements, your electrician must make these changes. This means the job will cost a bit more to complete.
Safety and condition
If your panel is presenting safety hazards or is in very poor condition, your electrician will be required to do a lot more work. In these situations, you’ll need to plan on spending more money to restore your home’s electrical system to safety and code compliance.
When additional parts need to be installed or when rewiring is required, you’ll need to factor in the added costs of materials.
How many amps of electricity does my home require?
Your amperage—the number of amps you need to run your home—will depend on your home’s size and the number of appliances or functions powered by electricity. Because electrical amperage is such a significant factor in determining the cost of your panel upgrade, here’s a breakdown of usage and pricing:
This is the bare minimum to keep an average household running. It should be noted that 100 amps should only be considered for smaller homes with relatively low electricity usage. Expect to pay $1,000-$1,500 for this type of upgrade.
At 150 amps, homeowners can safely and reliably run several appliances simultaneously. On average, you can expect to pay $1,500-$2,200 for a 150-amp panel replacement.
A 200 amperage is the most common and recommended for modern households. A 200-amp electrical panel replacement will cost $2,200-$3,500.
For households with energy demands that exceed 200 amps, a high-end, large panel upgrade may be the best fit. You may need to spend a minimum of $6,000 for this kind of upgrade.
What’s the bottom line?
On average, most Delaware homeowners should budget $3,000 for an electrical panel installation. However, your local electrical should be able to provide you with a more detailed quote based on your specific needs.
Can anything be done to cut costs?
We understand the desire to save money on electrical work, but when it comes to your home’s electrical demands and safety concerns, it’s never wise to try to skimp or cut corners. The best thing you can do to manage costs associated with upgrading your electrical panels is to stay on top of your electrical maintenance. Allowing your panel to fall into disrepair will be more expensive in the long run. The longer you ignore problems, the more you’ll eventually have to pay.
Don’t try to save a buck by settling for a panel that won’t scale with your electricity needs. Consider that modern households increasingly rely on electricity for lighting, appliances, entertainment, computers, phone and tablet charging, and more. Those needs are more likely to increase with time rather than decrease. Choosing the appropriate amperage for your home will help you avoid having to upgrade again in a few years.
Choose a local electrical contractor who’ll perform quality work at fair prices. The best contractors will be transparent with their pricing and always guarantee their work. They’ll also be familiar with city and state codes and will ensure your code compliance.
Finally, never underestimate the importance of safety. Initially, upgrading your panel to meet code requirements may feel like a pain, but every code is in place for a reason. Failure to comply with Delaware building codes can result in hefty fines or, worse, loss of life. Choosing to invest in your family’s safety is well worth the cost.
Let’s Get Started
Are you ready to upgrade your electrical panel? LR Electrical LLC is passionate about getting the job done right. We’re proud to serve Dover, Middletown, Kent County, and the surrounding areas. Let us do our magic. Get in touch for a quote today.