The electrical panel is the heart of your electrical system. It receives power from the utility company and distributes it throughout the property to power all the devices we rely on for comfort, convenience and productivity. To ensure you continue to enjoy safe and reliable electricity at your home or business, our electricians have put together a list of factors that may indicate it’s time to replace your panel.
You may consider replacing your electrical panel replacement if:
… it has a rag riser.
When it comes to electrical panel replacement, the first and most obvious thing to look for is what is known as a “rag riser.” This was a common practice years ago. The electrical wires that are feeding the electrical meter are covered with cloth insulation. These services are dangerous because direct contact with wire can be made, which can lead to electrical shock. In addition, the cloth does not sufficiently protect the wires, so they are more prone to damage from weather and animals. For these reasons, code now requires that these wires be installed in a conduit.
… the meter has a riser that is too low or does not go through the roof.
You should also consider electrical panel replacement if the riser that is coming out of the top of the meter does not go through the roof line or is not above 12’6” in height. Like the rag riser, this is an old practice that is no longer deemed safe. When service wires are not going through the roof and/or are under the required 12’6”, they are more likely to be hit and damaged under normal circumstances. Going through the roof provides more stability.
… it was made by Federal Pacific.
Federal Pacific Panels are known for overheating bus bars (the main metal bar on the back of panel that distributes the electricity to the breakers), which is a fire hazard. They can be identified by the “FPE” on their front covers and may be located on the inside or outside of the property.
… your breakers are all different colors.
If you have a panel with breakers that are all different colors, an upgrade is highly recommended. New electrical breakers are time-delay breakers, which means they will allow an overcurrent for a short period of time before tripping. Older breakers will allow the overcurrent to last for a longer period of time, which can cause wires to overheat (a fire hazard).
Today’s electronics are sensitive to power spikes. Outdated breakers are not as quick to respond to such spikes, and thus they are more likely to cause damage to your electronics. Replacement parts for these obsolete breakers are also hard to come by, which is another reason to replace the electrical panel.
… you need more power.
If you have done any upgrades to your home or business, then there may be a need for an upgrade to your electrical service. Properties today require more power than they did in the past. As you upgrade to modern devices, you may need additional power to support them. Common upgrades include switching appliances from gas to electric, replacing air conditioning systems or adding swimming pools or other outdoor features.
Finding the Right Solution for Your Property
If any of these situations are present for you, then you should consider having a licensed electrician replace your existing electrical panel. At Efficient, we are experienced with these upgrades and with what is required to make them as convenient as possible for the property owner. From permitting to inspection to having the electricity disconnected and reconnected, we handle it all.
An electrical panel can last a lifetime depending on how it is used. If it is under constant strain from being undersized, it will fail sooner. Most panel replacements are either performed because there has been an upgrade to the electrical system (meaning the property now requires more power to operate) or there has been damage to the existing service.
Most service rebuilds and upgrades can be one in one day and have power restored the same day.
The biggest factor that impacts the cost to replace an electrical panel is whether it’s an overhead or underground. With overhead service, service entry wires are being brought in from overhead. This is known as a service drop and requires roof penetrations and, in most cases, running wire in metal conduit. Underground service is run from the transformer (underground), and the meter sits on top of the PVC pipe. In remodeling, underground requires much less material than overhead service – making it less costly. In new construction, though, and overhead is actually less costly.
“Great! Refreshingly professional work ethic from the initial site visit to assess the scope of the work, the submission of the bid, on-going communication regarding scheduling of the work that required coordination with Austin Energy, and finally the actual work done.”