How much does it cost to install an electrical circuit panel upgrade?
Modern households are very dependent upon electrical energy, and it seems as if each day there is the need for more and more outlets and service. Consider the average kitchen with its appliances and small electrical devices...this room alone could call for both 220 volt outlets and standard 120 volts in abundance.
Frequently, a homeowner will purchase a property with an outdated circuit panel, such as one with only 20 to 40 amps. The average home is going to require a minimum of 100 amp service, but it isn't unheard of to see installations of 200 amps and more. For this discussion we will look at the costs of upgrading the average home from 40 amps to a new panel with 200 amp service. The average cost for a 200 amp upgrade is going to be from $1300 to $3000 (including materials).
Unless the homeowner is knowledgeable in home electrical systems, the installation of a new circuit panel is not really a "DIY" project. Traditionally installation is done by a professionally licensed electrician and only after all local planning permits and approvals are received. The project will include:
- Provide electrical wiring and lighting to code - This is going to depend upon the amount of work required, but electricians average from $65 to $85 per hour. Any given project might be priced on a per item basis, or the electrician might simply craft a bid based on the number of tasks to be performed. Generally, it is recommended to have an electrician perform several installations or projects while in the home.
- Purchase of a new panel - this is an issue that is best done after reviewing the home's needs with the electrician, since the panels are available in many sizes, as indoor or outdoor units, combinable with the meter, and with a range of available circuit spaces;
- Installation of appropriate service - the local utility company may need to install a different power supply or upgrade the meter and service, and this is an absolute necessity before installation of the new circuit panel begins (this is going to come at a separate expense);
- Drilling or carpentry to feed power into home - if the service is upgraded the homeowner may need to arrange for an adequate access to be created from the exterior of the home to the interior space nearest the panel; and
- Installation of new sub panels - not all circuit panels cover an entire home, and there are also many buildings with sub panels that may benefit from an upgrade too.
Enhancement and improvement costs
- Repair existing wiring and run improved conduit wherever necessary;
- Eliminating split circuits and sub panels and run new lines to updated circuit panel;
- Ensuring that all grounding is done with copper;
- Proper removal and recycling of original panels and materials;
- Create schematic of functions of all switches (this can be very time consuming in older buildings or those using sub panels, but is also extremely helpful in knowing which circuits to deactivate when working on electrical systems at a later date);
Additional considerations and costs
The wisest course of action for electrical circuit panel installation is to work with a licensed electrician who can help to accurately determine the precise needs for the home in question. A homeowner must always request references, ensure that the professional has adequate proof of insurance, and should obtain information about warranties on the work. It is a good idea to also seek at least three bids before selecting the provider if doing a full upgrade project as this will lower total costs considerably.