Can I Upgrade My Electrical Panel Myself

Thinking about upgrading your electrical panel? It’s a common dilemma for homeowners looking to save a few bucks or tackle a project themselves. But let’s be clear: when it comes to electrical projects, the stakes are high, and the risks can be severe when you don’t work with a professional electrician team. You may think that it will help you save money, when in reality, this isn’t the case.

Join the team from Sun Electrical Ltd. as we answer the burning question: “Can I upgrade my electrical panel myself?” Keep reading for more information about why electrical panels need to be serviced by an electrician rather than doing your own electrical work.

What is an electrical panel?

One of the most important parts of a home’s electrical system is the electrical panel, which is sometimes referred to as a breaker box. This fuse box acts as the main location that distributes electrical power to different circuits and wiring throughout your home.

Here is a closer look at the different parts in a breaker box below:

Main circuit breaker (in the fuse box)

This is the large switch at the top of the panel that controls the flow of electricity from the main power supply into the panel. The circuit break in the main panel has more amps and is designed to turn off power to your entire home in case it becomes overloaded or there is an emergency.

Smaller circuit breakers

Circuit breakers are small switches that you’ll find directly below the main breaker panel. Each circuit breaker is responsible for controlling the flow of power to a specific circuits within your home. For example, your lighting, HVAC system, outlets, and even your appliances.

Circuit breakers are in charge of tripping, or shutting off the electrical current from the main breaker to the branch circuits if it gets overloaded. It’s essentially a safety feature that prevents fires and protects the wiring throughout your home.

You can typically find your electrical panel in a utility closet, or utility room in your home. Knowing where this panel is located ensures you’re able to flick the switches back on should any one of them trip.

How do I know it’s time to upgrade my electrical panel?

Maintaining a safe electrical system in your house requires knowing when to replace your electrical panel.

The following obvious signs could mean it’s time for a new electrical panel:

Frequent circuit breaker trips

Regular circuit breaker tripping is an indication that an electrical panel is overloaded, potentially as an outcome of new equipment or increased demand.

Inadequate circuit breakers

Excessive use of power strips and extension cables indicates a lack of circuits, which increases the possibility of overloaded circuits and fire hazards.

Lights flicker

Dimming or flickering lights—especially when using appliances—may be an indication of fluctuations in voltage that can be fixed with a new panel.

Upgrading home appliances

Are you going to remodel or get newer appliances installed in your home? Upgrading your existing panel to make sure it can support the added electrical load.

Buzzing or crackling sounds

Strange noises coming from the electrical panel could be signs of weak connections or other problems that need to be diagnosed by a professional.

Burn markings or melting

Any visible indications of melting, burn markings around the panel suggest overheating and possible fire hazards, requiring immediate assistance from a professional.

Your electrical panel smells

If your electrical panel smells like burning plastic, this could also suggest that it’s time for a new electrical panel in your home.

Inadequate GFCI or AFCI

To improve safety against shocks and fires, upgrade your panel to add Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).

Plan on selling your house? Upgrade the electrical panel

If you plan on selling your home, it may be worthwhile to upgrade the electrical panel and electrical wiring throughout to ensure the electrical load meets building codes. Potential buyers may bring in an inspector before putting an offer in on your property.

If the inspector deems that your current electrical panel is insufficient, you may be required to upgrade it anyways as a condition of the sale. Therefore, by having your electrical panel and electrical wiring throughout your property beforehand, you can use that as a potential selling point to prospective home buyers interested in your house.

It’s essential that you speak with a certified electrician if you observe any of the above signs. To guarantee the safety and performance of the electrical systems in your house, professionals can assess the state of your wiring, spot possible problems, and suggest the necessary improvements.

Do I need a permit to upgrade my electrical panel?

Generally speaking, getting a permit for electrical projects—like replacing your home’s electrical panel—is an essential first step in making sure that local laws and safety standards are followed. To be more precise, you need to seek a permit from the appropriate municipal authorities in the city of Calgary for any electrical panel replacement.

To get formal authorization, this process includes submitting the required paperwork, such as project blueprints and details.

Obtaining a permit is crucial for protecting the safety and integrity of the electrical system in your house, as well as guaranteeing that the work complies with specific requirements. To ensure you have the correct and current information about the application procedure, make sure you visit the City of Calgary’s official website or get in touch with their permit office.

What tools do I need when upgrading my electrical panel?

Upgrading an electrical panel is a daunting task that calls for accuracy and the appropriate equipment to guarantee safety and adherence to local electrical codes. The right tools you could need to upgrade your electrical panel are listed below.

·   Screwdrivers: To remove panel covers and deal with screws, use flathead and screwdrivers.

·   Wire strippers: For removing insulation from electrical cables.

·   Voltage tester: To check if wires are live or de-energized before working on them. 

·   Multimeter: Provides comprehensive electrical system information by measuring voltage, current, and resistance.

·   Insulated pliers: These are used to work with wires and create safe connections.

·   Drill and bits: To attach the panel and make conduit holes.

·   Cable cutters: These are used to cut cables to the proper length.

·   Flashlight: Adds extra light to poorly lit places.

·   Labelling tools: Materials with labels that distinctly identify circuits for easy reference.

·   Protective gear: To guarantee safety during the installation, wear gloves, safety glasses, and other PPE.

It’s crucial to remember that only licensed and qualified electricians should perform electrical work. Hiring an electrician to complete the work is highly advised if you lack competence with electrical installations or modifications.

Is it safe to upgrade my electrical panel on my own? 

No, unless you are a professional and licensed electrician, it is not safe to upgrade your electrical panel yourself. Attempting to modify a panel without the required knowledge and training can have severe consequences, including electrical shocks, fires, and even fatalities, given the complexities involved in electrical work.

 Here’s a closer look at why you should leave electrical panel upgrades to professionals:

Safety hazards

There are always risks when working with electricity. If you don’t adhere to the recommended safety precautions, you run the risk of receiving a lethal electrical shock.

Compliance with local codes

Local building codes and regulations apply to all electrical projects, whether it be repairs, maintenance, or installations. Expert electricians are educated to comprehend and follow these codes, guaranteeing that the work satisfies all requirements. 

Technical knowledge

A thorough understanding of electrical systems, load estimates, and wiring layouts is necessary for upgrading an electrical panel. Lack of understanding can result in poor installations, resulting in faults and safety issues.

Fire risks

Improper installation of electrical parts from DIY projects can result in electrical shorts, overheating, and the risk of an electrical fire. Electrical fires can put your home at risk of damage and you and your family at risk of suffering injuries.

When it comes to your safety, don’t take the risk. Electrical needs should be handled by an experienced electrician.

Insurance repercussions

Your homeowner’s insurance may not pay for damages if you undertake electrical work without the necessary training and something goes wrong.

To guarantee that the job satisfies safety regulations and legal requirements in your local jurisdiction, insurance companies often ask that it be completed by qualified professionals.

DIY upgrade projects for your old electrical panel can be tempting. And it’s possible that you think doing your own panel upgrade will save money on labour costs and save time. It’s safe to say however, that this is a different story.

With the risks involved and a minimal margin of error, panel upgrade projects when done incorrectly can be a headache to remedy. So, leave it to an electrician to handle. Trust us, you’ll be thanking us later down the line.

Book Repairs for Your Electrical Panels or Electrical Panel Upgrades with the Local Electricians from Sun Electrical Ltd. Today!

Are you looking to upgrade the electrical panel in your house? If so, Sun Electrical Ltd. is here to make it happen! Our experienced electricians are available for emergency electrical repair and maintenance services 24/7/365 days a year, including after-hours, weekends, and holidays, at no extra cost.

A new panel for your home’s electrical demands is a call away! Book your upgrade appointment with the licensed electricians from Sun Solar Electrical Ltd. online or over the phone! All installations include a free estimate.