How Much Does an Electrical Panel Upgrade Cost?
The average home in the United States is at least 37 years old, and as homes age, repairs and improvements become impossible to avoid.
One of the areas where homes often need attention is an electrical panel upgrade. What was good for a home thirty years ago, isn’t what homes need today. Vital work, like an electric panel upgrade, is essential to having a home that can handle the stresses of modern life.
This leaves the question, how much is it going to cost to get that upgrade? To discover the answer to this, we will need to go more in-depth.
A lot goes into the cost of an electrical panel upgrade. The average electric panel upgrade cost can range from $500 to $4,000, which is too wide to make an accurate estimate without more information. Here are some key factors that you should be aware of before you begin:
- Size of the panel
- Distance from the junction box to the panel
- Type of panel
- Your location
- Electrician cost
- Upgrades to existing wiring
Size of Panel
The first factor that goes into the cost to upgrade an electrical panel is the size of that panel. For most homeowners, this is also tied in with why they are upgrading. The most common reasons why needing to upgrade the size of the panel are a new room or an increase in the number of appliances.
Another key reason to upgrade is that the electrical panel that you’re using now is getting old. This will reveal itself by having breakers flip often, or having the breakers come loose inside the box. If either of these things is happening, you need to get a new electrical box.
The larger a house, and the more appliances that are being used at any given time, the larger the electrical panel will need to be. The more electricity used, the more amps that your box will have to be able to handle. Choosing the right electrical panel is essential in keeping costs down.
For residential purposes, the two most popular choices are 120-volt panels and 240-volt panels. The 120-volt panel will be cheaper, but can’t handle the same load as a 240 volt panel can. Using a 120 volt panel can save you up to $200, but isn’t recommended if you’re in a large home that uses a lot of electricity.
Distance from Junction Box to Panel
Safety regulations and code in most places requires there to be at least seven feet between a junction box and a panel. This recommendation is so that people are able to work on the system without putting themselves at risk. This does have a direct bearing on the cost.
The further from the junction box you place the panel, the more you will have to spend. The reasons for this come down to materials. It will require more materials to reach a further distance, and thus that increase in material cost passes on to you.
You must also calculate the distance between the panel and the outlets that it will service. This too will require wiring in, and the length determines the amount of wire needed. Once you know the distance from junction boxes and outlets to the panel, you can get an idea of how much wiring there will be.
Type of Panel
There are two main types of panels used in electrical systems, fuse boxes, and breaker boxes. A breaker box will cost more than a fuse box, but is also a lot safer and offers more control. Instead of tripping when too much energy is pulled, you can manually turn off areas of the electrical grid.
A good breaker box can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. If you were to get a 240 volt breaker box, you will have a robust breaker, but this will require thicker wires and heavier studs. All of this adds cost to the project.
A weaker fuse box is cheaper, but to be up to code there will also have to be a breaker box present. Plus, you don’t want to have to shut off all the power to a house just to have one area worked on.
Your location will play a major factor in the cost of the work. The cost of living in an area determines how much having work done will cost. The higher the cost of living, the higher the cost of having any type of work done on your home.
Another aspect of location is city vs rural. The further from a town you are, the more it will cost to get an electrician out to work for you. Also, if there are environmental factors to consider, such as forests, undeveloped roads or other hazards they have to contend with.
Environmental factors can also play into the total cost of any project. If there are hazardous conditions or if you live off-grid, you might need to hire an electrician who has more experience or higher levels of certification. This all contributes to increasing the cost of upgrading an electrical panel.
Electricians can be found who charge by the hour, or by the job. Either way, you can expect that labor will be a large component in the cost of your project. Electricians aren’t cheap, they are among the highest paid tradesmen that you can hire.
For those that charge by the hour, you can expect that you will pay for their drive time as well as the time they spend working for you. Any delays or difficulties will be factored in and increase the total cost.
If you pay by the job, they will offer you a bid based on what they think the job will cost. They will factor in all of the potential delays and problems when they make this bid. In the case of residential electrical upgrades, it is often easier to pay by the hour if you’re in a town or city.
If you live in a remote area, or off the beaten path, you might be able to save money by taking a bid for the job in total. This depends a lot on the condition of the roads and the weather that you experience, so use your best judgment and seek the advice of friends and neighbors.
Upgrades to Wiring
If your old wiring is damaged or malfunctioning or you require thicker gauge wiring for new appliances or rooms, prepare to pay for the upgrades. The higher gauge a wire is, the more copper that is used in its construction and the more expensive it is. Higher quality wiring will also cost you more.
The wiring you buy will be charged based on the length and type of wire. If you upgrade your entire house wiring, you will have a safer and more stable electrical grid. But, you will pay more for the cost of each unit of wire x the distance used.
Calculating Final Cost
To generate a reasonable estimate for the cost of upgrading the electrical panel in your home, you will now have to combine all of the factors discussed previously. For a quick, easy calculation factor it up like this.
- Cost of materials
- Cost of labor
Add these two together for a reasonable estimate of what you can expect to pay. Always calculate on the high end of the averages, with electricians don’t expect to pay $30 dollars an hour, calculate that it will be over $100. This way you will have enough if anything happens.
Finding the Right Contractor
One way you can save money is by finding the right contractor for the work you need. The goal is to get the highest quality work for the lowest possible price. For the best outcome, make sure to get multiple estimates from contractors near you.
There are online services that do the work for you so that you don’t have to spend hours speaking to each contractor.
Electrical Panel Upgrade
No matter why an electrical panel upgrade is required, make sure to get the work done right. Problems with electrical systems can cause house fires, electrocution, and other injuries. Keep your family safe and protected by using contractors that know what they’re doing.
To get the best possible price for their services, get a free quote from our website. We make sure to have the contractors that you need, whether it’s for electrical work or any other home improvement project you need.