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SHOULD YOU UPGRADE YOUR ELECTRICAL SERVICE PANEL?
Your Arkansas home is equipped with an electrical service panel that controls the various electrical circuits which are routed throughout your home. If your panel is more than 10 years old or you’ve been experiencing insufficient power problems, it may be time for an upgrade.
You know that your home has an electrical panel because you’ve probably flipped the breaker switches once or twice in an effort to fix an electrical issue. But are you wondering how to know when you should upgrade your electrical service panel?
Our Lowell electricians at Bud Anderson Heating & Cooling are here to answer your questions. It’s important to learn the basics about what your home’s electrical panel does and why upgrades are important. Having some electrical knowledge will also help you to know when you need to perform maintenance and when you may have a serious problem with the system.
Electrical Service Panel 101
In a nutshell, the electrical service panel is what distributes power to the various circuits in your home. That’s why flipping a single breaker switch might turn off power to the guest bedroom or kitchen only without affecting other rooms.
When you open the door to your electrical panel, you’ll see an array of On/Off switches. Each should be labeled either next to the switch or inside the door, showing which circuit it controls. Note that a fuse box will have screw-in fuses rather than breaker switches, but the function is the same.
One sure sign that you need an electrical panel upgrade is frequent breaker tripping from overloads.
Blowing a Fuse – Tripping a Circuit Breaker
You’re blow-drying your hair, and all of a sudden, the lights go out. Or you turn on the coffee maker and microwave at the same time and lose power in the entire kitchen. What happened? You’ve probably either blown a fuse or tripped a breaker, depending on which type of electrical panel you have.
The circuits are designed to shut down safely when they experience a power overload or short circuit. If you plug too many appliances into one outlet, you may be drawing more power than the circuit can take.
The circuit will shut down in order to prevent overheating, which can lead to sparks and electrical fires. Most of the time, you can solve the problem by changing your outlet plugging configuration to more evenly distribute the electricity, and then go to flip the circuit breaker switch or replace the fuse.
However, if overloading the circuit continues, contact an electrician in your area to investigate whether you need an electrical service panel upgrade.
Other Signs You Need An Electrical Panel Upgrade
The electrical panels in many older homes are simply not designed to handle modern electricity needs.
The electricians of 20 years ago could never have imagined a single family using a television, cable box, DVR, video game console, toaster, microwave, blender, radio, hair dryer, lamp, and more all at the same time! Even electrical appliances that aren’t turned on but remain plugged in can siphon electricity from the grid.
If there are blown fuses or tripped breakers on a regular basis, you are likely due for an electrical panel upgrade. Similarly, if your lights are flickering or just aren’t fully bright, you might need a panel upgrade. At the very least, you should have these problems checked out by a licensed electrician.
In general, if your home is more than 20 years old, or if the service panel has less than 200 amps of electricity available, it’s time for a new electrical service panel.
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, don’t wait to bring in a professional electrician for an electric panel upgrade. An outdated, overstressed electrical panel isn’t just inconvenient –it can also be dangerous.
If you’ve rigged your home with power strips and extension cords because you have don’t have enough outlets, you’re putting your family and your belongings at risk of a power surge or electrical fire. Call an experienced Lowell electrician today for an electrical service panel upgrade.