You’ll likely need a home electrical panel upgrade to meet current National Electrical Code (NEC) standards for any electrical panel replacement or major electrical work to your home.
A 200 amp electrical panel upgrade costs about $1,630 to $4,070, with a National average cost of $2,730. Updating the home’s electrical system could cost anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000.
Electrical panels can last 25 to 40 years. Age is not always a primary concern when an electrical panel replacement is necessary. Some electric panel brands are inherently faulty and need you should replacement to meet modern safety standards.
Regardless of age, we recommend upgrading your existing panel in older homes when the electrical service or panel is too small, at maximum capacity, or lacks current UL safety standards.
See our electrical panel upgrade cost calculator below.
Cost to Replace Electrical Panel: How Much Does it Cost to Upgrade an Electric Panel?
You might be wondering how much it costs to upgrade electrical circuit panels. Using this simple electrical panel cost calculator, you can get an estimate for your electrical panel replacement cost. Select the three options below. Choose your state to get an electrical cost estimate considering each area’s cost of living.
How Much Electricity Does Your Home Need?
For most modern homes, 200 amps are enough to power most household appliances, air conditioning systems, wells to pump water, and much more. Adding new appliances can alter your electrical demand and power requirements.
Some home improvement projects will require help from a professional electrician.
You should use a residential electrical load calculator to calculate your electricity demand based on your home’s electrical needs to consider installing 400 amps for large homes and commercial electrical installations.
Cost to Upgrade Electrical Panel to 100 Amps
The national average cost to upgrade your current panel to 100 amps is $1,365. The price can vary from $815 to $2,035 or more depending on the amount of work necessary and the state where you live.
Cost to Upgrade Electrical Panel to 150 Amps
On average, the electrical panel box replacement cost for a 150 amp circuit breaker box costs around $2,048 – but prices can range from a low of $1,223 to as high as $3,053 depending on the labor required and which state you call home.
Cost to Upgrade Electrical Panel to 200 Amps
On average, a 200-amp electrical panel upgrade costs around $2,730 nationally. However, the fees can range from as little as $1,630 to up to $4,070, depending on your location and the amount of work needed. When updating the electrical panel, ensure the correct 2/0 copper or 4/0 aluminum 200 amp wire size.
Cost to Upgrade Electrical Panel to 300 Amps
Upgrade your electrical panel to 300 amps, and you can expect the national average cost for this project to be $4,095. However, costs may range from $2,445 to $6,205 or more, depending on the level of work required and where you live.
Cost to Upgrade Electrical Panel to 400 Amps
On a national scale, converting a modern electrical panel to 400 amps can cost anywhere from $3,260 up to $8,140 or potentially even more—all depending on the extent of labor and your geographic location. On average, you’re likely looking at approximately $5,460 for such a project.
Tim Wells, a former electrician and the founder of Garage Transformed, told us that the main factor determining the need for a 400 amp electrical service upgrade is the size of the house, the type of equipment that is powered, and the number of modern appliances or electronic devices that require power.
Suppose a house has many large appliances and multiple heat pump systems that require much power. In that case, a 400amp service may be required to safely provide adequate power to maintain electrical flow and reduce the chance of any overloads or short circuits.
He continues by stating that other factors that may determine the need for a 400 amp electrical service upgrade include the location of the building (i.e., any extreme weather conditions that may require increased power loads) and the age of the building (older buildings may require increased power protection due to their age and design).
Our takeaway is that the need for 400 amp service is all about how much power you’ll use simultaneously. Electric appliances and heating and cooling systems are the largest draws on your home’s electrical system.
Modern larger homes will have more electrical circuits because the NEC requires each room to have a dedicated circuit. All circuits will rarely operate at once in a home. However, there will be peak times when more power is needed to sustain constant electric flow. You’ll need 400 amps so as not to overload the electrical system at these times.
Cost to Upgrade to a Smart Electrical Panel
The new electrical panel cost to upgrade to smart panels is similar to any other house electrical panel upgrade.
However, a smart electrical panel is necessary for other smart house upgrades, such as lighting management and automation systems. A smart load center is critical if you’re considering upgrading your existing home into a smart home.
The cost to upgrade to a smart electrical panel varies depending on the project’s brand and scope. Generally, a basic smart load center will cost between $500 and $1000 for the panel and circuit breakers, plus professional installation.
Cost to Install a Main Breaker
The cost to install a main breaker will depend on the size of the main breaker and the installation’s complexity. Installation may be relatively simple and inexpensive if the location is already pre-wired for a main breaker is between $150 and $350.
However, the costs can quickly increase if complex breaker box wiring needs to be done to accommodate a new main panel upgrade. Affordable electrical panel installation could range from $500 to $2,000, depending on the situation.
Cost to Install an Electric Vehicle Charger
The cost to install an electric vehicle charger can vary depending on the type of charger, the number of chargers being installed, and any additional installation costs.
A simple Level 1 charger typically costs around $200-$300 for installation.
Generally, a Level 2 charger installation will cost anywhere from $500 to $2000, depending on the location and complexity of the wiring.
Cost to Install a Subpanel
The cost to install a subpanel depends on the size, the type of wiring used, and the labor involved.
Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $2,000 for a standard residential subpanel installation with basic wiring.
|$530 to $1,415
|$1,040 to $2830
|$1,448 to $3,848
|$1,855 to $4,865
Cost to Move an Electrical Panel
Sometimes, you’ll need to move an electrical panel to make accessing it easier and meet current electrical code standards. The breaker box replacement cost will depend largely on how far you need to move the electrical panel.
|Distance to Move Electrical Panel
|Short distance (10 feet or less)
|$800 to $1,200
|Longer distance or extensive rewiring
|$1,200 to $4,000
Cost to Install an Electric Meter Box
The cost to install an electric meter box depends on the complexity of the installation and any additional permits required. Electric meter boxes typically cost $200 to $800 for a basic meter box installation.
If you need a completely new meter box installation, you should expect to pay between $1,500 and $4,000, including trenching, underground conduit, service wire, and installation.
You should expect to pay between $1,250 and $2,850 for overhead service, including the overhead service mast with weather head, service wire, and meter box installation.
|Electric Meter Box
|Meter box only
|$200 to $800
|Underground service with meter box
|$1,500 to $4,000
|Overhead service with meter box
|$1,250 to $2,850
We will look closely at the signs an electric panel replacement is needed, identify the brands you should replace, and the upgrade cost.
Why Upgrade Your Electrical Panel?
Upgrading your electrical panel is an important step in ensuring the safety and efficiency of your home’s electrical system. Older electrical panels may not be able to handle the increased electrical demand of many modern homes, which can lead to unreliable power, tripped breakers, and even fire hazards.
Upgrading to a larger, more reliable panel can help prevent these problems and ensure your family has all the power they need without any dangerous risks.
Insurance companies often require an electrical upgrade when you have fuse boxes or certain brands of electrical panels like Federal Pacific to reduce the risk of a fire claim.
Upgrading a home’s electrical panel is often necessary when:
- You have clear signs like flickering lights, burning smell, signs of wear, or other electrical safety concerns
- You plan home renovations that involve the electrical system
- You have existing fuse panels or certain old electrical panel brands
- You need to add major electrical appliances
- You are adding solar panels
- You are adding a whole-house generator
- You are adding an EV charger for an electric car
- You are adding a hot tub or swimming pool
- You are adding air conditioners
Should I Upgrade My Electrical Panel: 9 Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore
Some warning signs will indicate that there may be something wrong with your electrical panel or wiring. I recommend having an experienced electrician carry out a detailed inspection.
Here are 13 warning signs you shouldn’t ignore that will signal that you should consider a breaker panel upgrade.
1. The Electrical Panel is Original to the Home
Most licensed electricians agree that electrical panels have a lifespan of 25 to 40 years before they wear out or become obsolete and can no longer meet safety standards.
Upgrading your electrical panel is an important step in ensuring the safety of your home. If your electrical panel is original to the home, it likely does not meet today’s safety standards and could be a fire hazard.
Outdated electrical panels may contain aluminum wiring, which has a higher risk of poor connections and shorts that can cause fires. Older systems may not include ground fault circuit interrupters designed to protect against electrical shocks.
Additionally, outdated panels cannot often support modern electronic devices, meaning you won’t be able to power your home safely as technology evolves.
2. You Have an Uninsurable Electrical Panel
An uninsurable electrical panel is a sign that you need to upgrade it as soon as possible. Insurance companies have identified an uninsurable electrical panel as having a greater fire risk due to faulty components.
Such panels are unsafe and dangerous; they lack the necessary safety features, and your insurance policy won’t cover them if something goes wrong.
An example of an uninsurable electrical panel is Federal Pacific and Zinsco. See our list of old breaker boxes you should replace. These panels can’t manage the electrical load of modern homes and are known to fail during an overcurrent, which can cause an electrical fire.
Newer panels are designed to manage larger loads of electricity. They are usually equipped with circuit breaker upgrades that will shut off power in case of a surge or overload, preventing potentially catastrophic fires from happening.
Ensuring your electrical panel is up-to-date and safe should be a top priority for any homeowner – dealing with an uninsurable panel isn’t worth the risk! A professional electrician can inspect the panel and advise you on the best action to ensure your family’s safety.
3. The Electrical Panel has a Burning Smell
A burning smell from an electrical panel can indicate overheating, arcing, or experiencing an electrical malfunction that warrants an upgrade. This could be due to several things, such as faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, or outdated components.
A burning smell often indicates that the current electrical setup can no longer handle the amount of power being drawn and can lead to serious safety risks if not addressed promptly.
These risks can be avoided by upgrading the electrical panel as new components with higher capacity ratings can be installed, ensuring that all current and future electrical demands are met safely.
Additionally, homeowners can benefit from more reliable power distribution and improved energy efficiency by upgrading the panel, saving them money in the long run.
Ultimately, upgrading an aging electrical panel should always be considered when you detect a burning smell, as this could potentially prevent costly damage or even electrical fires down the road.
4. You’re Adding or Upgrading Appliances
Upgrading appliances can be a great reason to upgrade an electrical panel. As older appliances are replaced with newer, higher-efficiency models, the overall load increase on the electrical panel in your home or business may exceed its current capacity.
An outdated electrical panel cannot handle the increased load and could lead to power failure and other safety risks. Upgrading an electrical panel is essential when replacing or adding new appliances that draw more electricity than the existing ones.
Additionally, having a more modern electrical panel ensures that all new appliances have ample power supply and run as efficiently as possible.
When installing larger-capacity electric appliances such as a clothes dryer, stove, wall oven, cooktop, dishwasher, hot tub, or air conditioner, it is important to make sure your electrical system is ready for the additional load by upgrading your current electrical panel.
5. Rusty Electrical Components
A rusted electric panel is never a good sign. Rust indicates contact with water inside the electrical panel; we all know electricity and water can be fatal.
The fact that there is rust means there has been prolonged moisture exposure. There may be different causes for rust to appear, like chipped paint, higher humidity levels, or water leaks.
High amounts of electrical current are passing through the panel. And the presence of water in any shape or form is not something we want. Corrosion in the electrical panel will eventually render the old breaker box unsafe and fail to operate correctly, leading to electrical faults or a house fire.
Corroded equipment needs replacing, but the reason causing it to rust also needs repair to prevent it from reoccurring. So, you may need to move it to an area with less moisture.
6. Circuit Breaker Tripping Frequently
You should not need to replace or upgrade an electrical panel simply because a breaker routinely trips. You should only need a circuit breaker panel replacement when scorching from arcing or rust, the damage prevents proper breaker connection, or the breaker panel is undersized or overloaded.
The reasons why a breaker may constantly trip are:
- Overloaded circuits
- There is an electrical fault in the circuit.
- The electrical wire is undersized.
If this happens, have a licensed electrician examine the system to determine if you need an electrical panel replacement.
Here are some questions you should ask your local electrician:
- Is it the same breaker that routinely trips? If the same breaker routinely trips, it’s likely a problem with the breaker itself or the circuit coming into the breaker.
- Are there burn marks present on the bus bar where the breaker connects inside the panel? A burning smell or visible scorching indicates a problem with the circuit breaker, the panel, or both. Either way, the panel’s replacement is recommended if burning has occurred.
- Double-tapped breakers, meaning there are two circuits connected to one breaker? When two or more branch circuits enter into a single-pole breaker, the breaker may routinely trip. Electrical panel repair may be as simple as separating the circuits into separate breakers or installing a two-pole tandem breaker if the manufacturer allows it.
- Is the breaker undersized for the circuit? An undersized breaker will routinely trip under certain electricity usage loads. Running too many items at once can also overload and trip a breaker. Vacuums, for example, can cause a breaker to trip routinely because of the electrical demand.
7. Fuse Box or Undersized Electric Boxes
Electric boxes have a power rating that correlates with the size and how many breakers they can accommodate inside.
Some of the first home electrical fuse box contractors installed in residential houses had about 60 amps of power. Later, this increased to 100 amps. Today, this considered being insufficient. Now, most modern homes have 200 amp service.
If you live in an old home with a fuse box and add new appliances, it may be underpowered and blow a fuse or trip circuit breakers.
In a few cases, I recommend changing the undersized panel when:
- You are doing major remodeling.
- You are adding new electrical appliances that have high electrical consumption.
- More people living in your home could overload the distribution box’s capacity.
8. Scorching Inside the Electrical Panel
We touched on this earlier, but let’s go into more detail. Even though an electrical panel is estimated to last between 25 to 40 years, everything eventually requires replacement. Electrical surges can damage a service panel at any time.
Despite what the manufacturer says, mechanicals often break down prematurely. Manufacturer specifications are only estimates given based on ideal circumstances.
Not only the electrical panel itself but the electrical wiring wears out with time, too.
Damaged insulation on the wiring can produce electrical arcs that generate high heat, starting a fire.
Look for burned and charred areas or any distinct smells:
- If the breaker is removed in the electrical panel at the breaker or on the bus bar.
- Around the breakers. Are the connectors scorched?
- Around the wires. Is the insulation around the wires melted?
If you notice anything concerning you, have the panel inspected by a licensed electrician.
9. You’re Planning a Major Home Renovation
Undertaking a major home renovation is a great opportunity to upgrade the electrical panel and may be required under local building codes. As part of the renovation, an electrician can assess the electrical system and determine if an upgrade is necessary.
An upgraded electrical panel can provide improved safety, increased energy efficiency, and greater flexibility for adding new appliances or circuits. With an older home, especially one with existing aluminum wiring, it’s important to ensure that any panel changes to the electrical system are done correctly.
Investing in a quality electric panel upgrade from a professional electrician is important when renovating. Not only will it provide peace of mind in knowing that your home’s wiring is up to code, but it will also help you get the most out of your remodeling project for years.
10. You Have Ungrounded Electrical Wiring
Old wiring can pose many safety issues due to natural wear and tear. Bad wiring practices can also be hazardous and require an electrical panel change or upgrade. Some examples are:
- Oversized breakers: I often find mismatched electrical breaker brands during home inspections. Incompatible breakers are incredibly unsafe and dangerous.
- Double-tapped electrical breakers: double-tapped breakers can be another fire hazard waiting to happen. A good reason is that a specific breaker may trip more frequently than it should. Some breakers are designed for 1 or 2 poles (circuits) and can operate correctly. Breakers labeled 1 Pole should only have one circuit wire connection.
- Messy wiring: This often refers to multiple wire connections made outside an electrical junction box with a cover plate. We see this often in older homes where rooms were wired in series on one circuit. One leg of the wiring is replaced and then tied into several other branch legs of older wiring outside of a junction box.
11. Consolidating Multiple Electric Subpanels
Some homes may also have one or more subpanels installed. There can be several reasons why your home may have subpanels:
- In some cases, operating specific electrical circuits from a sub-panel may be more convenient. For example, you can see this in garages, granny flats, and other home extensions.
- A subpanel may be more cost-efficient in some cases. Single wiring can run to the main panel instead of multiple wiring with a sub-panel.
- We see this often in older homes where the main panel box is at maximum capacity. The need for additional circuits means either an electrical upgrade to a modern panel or adding a sub-panel.
You will likely need to replace or upgrade your main panel if you consolidate multiple subpanels. You can often do this with one 200 amp panel. Some larger homes may require two 200 amp panels, where one is the main and the second is an equal-sized subpanel.
However, one of the significant disadvantages is that consolidating multiple subpanels will be followed by a lot of wiring work that is incredibly laborious and expensive.
12. Dimming or Flickering Lights
Dimming or flickering lights are another good sign for an electrical panel upgrade.
Lights often flicker when an underpowered electrical panel is in high demand. Sometimes the reason for that can also be faulty wiring. In either case, you need an inspection to determine the cause of the lights flickering.
A faulty electrical box is not necessarily the case with modern LED lights. LED lights can flicker or dim when on for a long time.
13. Using Several Power Strips or Extension Cords
Homeowners can often overlook power strips as a source of potential electrical hazards. Older homes typically have fewer outlets per circuit, and connecting more items to a power strip than it can handle might overload that circuit.
Adding one of these long power strips to an outlet and connecting multiple appliances or electronic equipment will trip the breaker associated with this branch circuit.
Usually, the more demanding appliances may even need their dedicated circuit. Connecting multiple appliances to the same circuit via extension cords is dangerous and can damage electrical devices or appliances.
If you buy an older home that doesn’t have enough outlets, you may have to upgrade the electrical panel to add more electrical circuits and outlets.
Is it Worth it to Upgrade the Electrical Panel?
When determining whether I should upgrade my electrical panel, it will depend on its current condition and how much work would be needed to upgrade it properly. If the electrical panel is outdated or does not meet current safety requirements, an upgrade should be considered to reduce potential risks to your family and property.
Suppose the current electrical panel does not have enough capacity to handle any planned additions to the home, such as an air conditioner or other appliance. In that case, an upgrade is also necessary. Ultimately, it’s important to assess the electrical panel’s overall condition and needs before deciding whether or not to upgrade it.
Will You Need to Rewire Your House?
While you may need some electrical rewiring, you often only need to replace faulty wiring. While grounded electrical wiring is best, not all ungrounded wiring needs replacement when performing circuit box upgrades.
According to NEC guidelines, it’s wise to use GFCI protection for wiring with no ground because they can detect problems and cut power to faulty wiring to prevent electric shocks as a life-saving measure. It also signifies a problem needing troubleshooting and electrical panel repair by a qualified electrician.
What is Involved in Electrical Panel Replacement?
An electric panel upgrade involves replacing your current circuit breaker panel box with a new one that meets current NEC codes and UL Safety Standards.
When replacing your house’s electric box, you need to know what’s involved in planning accordingly. It can be very challenging, depending on how extensive the work is. A simple swap out can be done in a few hours, whereas more extensive jobs can take up to a week to complete.
While no two breaker box replacement jobs are the same, here are some of the most important.
- Pulling an electrical permit, if required by your city or county.
- Disconnecting the wiring to the old breaker box.
- Removing the old panel box and installing the new panel.
- Installing the new electrical panel and connecting the wiring to the new circuit breakers. You may need to move the distribution panel location to meet current codes, lengthen the existing wiring, or run all new circuits.
- Installing the main circuit breaker if one does not already exist.
- Having a final electrical inspection of the electrical work by the local building code inspector.
Is Replacing the Circuit Breaker Box Necessary?
As we can see, replacing your electrical panel can be an intimidating thing to do. Many will ask if replacing the existing electric panel is worth spending money on, considering the older one is still working.
Necessity is often subjective and ultimately comes down to personal preference. Many unsafe conditions can last for years without incident, but that doesn’t make them less dangerous. We feel it’s best practice to upgrade electrical panels and quickly replace unsafe or outdated components or practices.
It may be too late to realize an electrical panel is malfunctioning. Sometimes, people may think they are doing it when their electrician recommends replacing their breaker box because they are only after the money.
As home inspectors, we have specific responsibilities to advise our clients on the house’s condition and any apparent safety issues they might face soon. The primary concern is our client’s safety, families, and homes. Even though replacing a circuit breaker box can be costly, protection should always be a top priority.
How Long Do Electric Upgrades Take?
Every homeowner facing the hard decision to replace their electrical panel may need to consider how long it would take.
The time frame we will be looking at is essential because you cannot expect your home to have electricity running during this time. Any appliances like refrigerators will be left unpowered.
- The usual time for replacing or upgrading an electrical panel is generally between 6 to 8 hours.
- Some electric upgrades involve rewiring, or relocation could take several days.
- Suppose the power has to be terminated to make the service panel upgrade. In that case, You will need an inspection from a building code inspector to authorize the electric company to set the meter and turn the power on. This can add up to one week to the job’s length.
The time can vary greatly depending on the following:
- The scope of the electrical work
- The number of circuits that have to be relocated.
- The time required to coordinate with the electrical company properly and more.
Do You Need an Electrical Permit to Change the Panel?
Most electrical panel upgrades require an electrical permit. A permit ensures that work is safe, complies with the local electrical code, and must be obtained by a licensed electrician.
Doing electrical work is incredibly dangerous, and performing an electrical panel replacement or upgrade is not a DIY project you should try to tackle.
The National Fire Protection Association reports that approximately 46,700 home electrical fires occurred annually between 2015 and 2019 due to inadequate electrical wiring or malfunctions.
To safeguard your family and property from a potential fire hazard, it is strongly recommended to utilize trained electricians who are proficient in following correct codes and procedures when performing electrical work.
Any fire damage from improper electrical installations, negligence, and code violations can lead to a denied insurance claim.
Additionally, if the homeowner decides to sell their property, they must disclose any known information, including changing the panel or wiring. Usually, they ask when the electrician changed the electric panel and for a copy of the permit.
A lack of permits may have a negative effect. The buyer may:
- ask for a price reduction
- ask for an experienced electrician to provide a professional inspection
- have trouble with their insurance company
It can even be a deal-breaker if the potential buyer suspects the contractor did not do the work correctly.
A permit and an inspection by the local building code inspector may seem like a hassle, but they will pay dividends in the long run. They can be an investment in your property as they may save you thousands of dollars.
Electrical Panel Upgrade FAQs
What is an electrical panel upgrade?
Upgrading an electrical panel replaces an existing electrical panel with a new one. This upgrade can provide a larger capacity for the home to handle more power, allowing additional appliances or lighting fixtures to be added. An upgraded electrical panel can include additional breakers, safety features, and improved wiring and connections.
Is an electrical panel upgrade worth it?
Upgrading an electrical panel provides homes with better protection from frequent power surges, improves property value, and enhances overall safety in the home. Many electric companies provide incentives for upgrading your panels, so it’s worth looking into before starting any work on your home!
Does upgrading your electrical panel increase house value?
Yes, upgrading your electrical panel can increase a home’s value. Upgrading the electrical box will ensure that it meets the latest safety standards, which can appeal to potential buyers.
Should I upgrade to 200 amps?
Upgrading to a 200-amp electric panel is one of the best ways to ensure your home’s safety, especially when running large appliances. Before upgrading, discuss with a licensed electrician what other requirements, like metering equipment, may be needed.
How long will it take to upgrade an electrical panel?
The time an electrical panel upgrade takes depends on the specific details of your residential home and how much work needs to be done. A local electrician can assess your situation and give you an accurate timeline. Small upgrades may only take a few hours, while large electrical upgrades could take several days or more.
What is the most expensive part of replacing an electrical panel?
Professional electrician labor is often the most expensive part of replacing an electrical panel. They must cover the cost of employees, trucks, tools, insurance, and permits to ensure the job is done correctly.
When should I replace my electrical panel?
When to replace your electrical panel will depend on the electrical panel’s condition and your current needs. While a circuit breaker box can last 40 to 60 years, you may need an upgrade sooner if you are remodeling and need additional circuits or damage to the box’s components.
How much does it cost to upgrade your breaker box?
Upgrading a breaker box costs between $1,500 to $3,000 for a standard upgrade. However, this price can increase if additional electrical work or permits are required. It is recommended to consult with a licensed electrician to get an accurate estimate for your specific needs.
How long do electrical panels last?
Electrical panels can typically last 40 to 60 years if properly maintained. Since electrical panels control the entire electrical system of a home or building, they should be inspected regularly to make sure they are in proper working order and not subject to corrosion or other forms of damage.
How long does it take to replace electrical panel?
The time to replace an electrical panel can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to complete the replacement. However, this timeframe may be longer if there are additional complications or if you need to move the panel. It is recommended to consult with a licensed electrician for a more accurate estimate.