If you live in an older home, your current circuit breaker may not meet your electrical needs, or maybe you are planning to upgrade or add to the electrical work in your home. If so, you may need to replace or upgrade your electrical circuit panel. Many older boxes are unsafe and pose a risk of an electrical fire. Most homes have increased their electrical use over the years, putting a strain on older systems. Most often, the cost to upgrade a house electrical system is worth it because it provides improved functionality and safety benefits. Note that supply chain challenges and the availability of parts have driven electrical panel replacement costs up substantially in the last few years. However, prices should not increase as fast in 2023 and 2024, with overall increases of around 3% to 5% per year.
There are various ways to upgrade or replace your existing panel, which leads to a wide range of associated costs. The national average cost ranges from $1,500 to $4,500. Most homeowners pay around $3,000 to upgrade their existing 100 amp panel to a 200 amp service without changing the position of the panel or engaging in any substantial rewiring. Costs can be as low as $1,000 for replacing a 100 amp unit with another 100 amp unit with minimal rewiring or as high as $12,000 for upgrading to a new 400 amp system from a 100 amp service with new panel placement and substantial new wiring to support the panel.
|Electrical Circuit Panel Upgrading or Replacement Price|
|National average cost||$3,000|
A few factors influence when a homeowner should replace or upgrade their electrical panel. However, the actual age of the panel is not always the most important detail. Rather, a homeowner may decide to replace their electrical panel when it contains antiquated equipment that is not as safe as modern equipment. In addition to safety concerns, some homeowners may need to replace their old panels during a remodel when their old panel no longer conforms to the local electrical codes. An electrical panel damaged in an accident is also a candidate for replacement, especially when the amperage of the panel is sufficient for the home’s needs, which means an upgrade is not necessary.
On the other hand, the decision to upgrade an electrical panel rather than replace it generally stems from a need for more electricity than the panel can provide. Homes built during the post-WWII housing boom of the 1950s were usually 50 or 60 amps. The panels that came later in the 1960s and 1970s were often no larger than 100 amps or 150 amps at the largest. Today, most homes operate best with a 200-amp panel, which became the standard in the 1980s. Adding circuits, charging electric vehicles, and installing 240V circuits for the laundry room require an electrical panel upgrade. The table below illustrates the cost differences between upgrading and replacing an electrical panel.
|Project||Cost (Labor Included)|
|Replacement||$1,000 - $3,500|
|Upgrading||$1,500 - $5,000|
Many homes, particularly older ones, have panels that are too small for their electrical needs. Suppose you notice your lights flickering or newly installed appliances are not running at peak efficiency. This could mean that the existing box is too small and should be upgraded. Upgrading from an 80 or 100 amp panel to a 150 amp unit provides room to grow. Likewise, upgrading to a 200 amp system allows you to include a new addition, garage, or several new appliances without stressing or overloading the system. You can upgrade your existing system in several ways. Look at the table below for the average costs to upgrade an electrical panel by amps.
|Upgrade||Upgrade Cost (Labor Included)|
|To 100 Amps||$1,200 - $1,800|
|To 150 Amps||$1,500 - $2,800|
|To 200 Amps||$1,800 - $4,500|
|To 300 Amps||$3,500 - $7,500|
|To 400 Amps||$8,000 - $12,000|
The cost to upgrade to 100 amp service is typically between $1,200 and $1,800, depending on what you currently have and its location. If you have an older home, you may have a panel with 60 or 80 amps and need to upgrade to 100 amps to meet your current needs. Today, 100-amp panels are considered the minimum that most households need. If you have a small home, upgrading to a 100-amp panel may offer you the most affordable route and give you the opportunity to install a safer, modern electrical panel.
The cost to upgrade to 150 amp service ranges from $1,500 to $2,800, with the cost influenced by how many amps your home currently has and the age of your panel. An older 60-amp panel from the 1960s with old wiring costs more to upgrade than a newer 100-amp panel that was originally installed in the 1980s. With 150 amps, your home has additional space and room to grow regarding electrical use. It is also a better fit for homes that use power strips or have many appliances. Most homes between 1,500 and 2,000 sq.ft. benefit from 150 amps, especially with significant use. Upgrading to 150 amps is a good option when you want to convert a garage into a living space and install a subpanel to handle the additional circuits.
Upgrading to 200 amp service typically costs $1,800 to $4,500, depending on your current amperage and the age of your current panel and wiring. Your home has flexibility in electricity usage with 200 amps. Large properties or those with additions, garages, many appliances, electric vehicle car chargers, and other high-energy needs benefit from upgrading to 200 amps. The cost of upgrading electrical service to 200 amps may be worthwhile for those with larger entertainment systems or home additions. It may be helpful for those with a home over 1,800 sq.ft. or those with growing electrical needs or expected expansions.
Upgrading to 300 amp service ranges from $3,500 to $7,500, depending on your current amperage and wiring. It is rare for a home to need this amount of electricity, but homeowners who switch to electrical appliances from gas and have an EV may need the increase. With 300 amps, a homeowner can also construct home additions or add buildings and features with high electricity needs, like heated pools or workshops that use power tools. Installing a 300-amp service is also an option for homeowners who need more than 200 amps but are not prepared to pay the cost of upgrading to 400 amps.
The average range to upgrade a panel to 400 amps is between $8,000 and $12,000. This is a fairly rare project for most homes unless you have special circumstances, like a home of 4,000 sq.ft. or more or unusual power requirements for specialty equipment. Two options exist for getting a 400-amp service. The first is installing a single 400-amp panel, which is generally the most expensive option due to the expensive rewiring that must take place with the service upgrade. The second option is a pair of 200-amp panels, which allows the electrician to use more affordable wiring and associated components. When the power company tells the homeowner to place the panel on the back side of the property, the wiring required to get from the street to the panel can cause the cost to skyrocket. In such circumstances, two 200-amp panels might be the more affordable option.
Materials are very difficult to find at this time. Many supply warehouses are out of just about every kind of meter base and panel. Because of this extra effort needed to locate material all of those prices are low. Normally, a 400 Amp panel would cost an electrician about $400. Since they are so hard to locate right now, they can cost up to $800.
Homeowners may need to replace their panel when it becomes too old to operate safely or when it is damaged in an accident or severe weather. Replacement may need to occur with an older panel like a Stab Lok that has a fire risk or with a panel that develops burn marks indicating a significant malfunction. The replacement cost depends on the make and model, amperage, and location. For example, the cost to replace a 100 amp panel starts at $1,000 on the low end, while the cost to replace a 200 amp panel reaches $4,000 on the high end. Bear in mind that circumstances may require that the panel should be upgraded to a higher amperage instead of replaced, which may push costs up. Further, some municipalities require new panels, whether they are a higher amperage or not, to conform to new electrical standards, which means more extensive updates to the panel and its contents. It is worth noting that 300-amp and 400-amp panels are not commonly replaced because their components are so much newer. In most cases, they are repaired before replacement is considered or necessary.
Reasons for replacement usually include damage or age. For example, replacing a 100-amp panel may occur because the original panel was installed in the 1970s and no longer operates safely. A 150-amp or 200-amp panel replacement may also occur due to age. Many 150-amp and 200-amp panels were installed in the 1980s and are closing in on 40 years of service. Panels last from 25 to 40 years without incident. However, it is not uncommon to keep panels many decades longer, especially in the case of homes built in the first half of the 20th century that have not been significantly remodeled in many decades. The table below shows electrical panel replacement cost based on amperage.
|Type||Cost (Labor Included)|
|100 Amps||$1,000 - $1,600|
|150 Amps||$1,300 - $2,400|
|200 Amps||$1,600 - $4,000|
Electrical panels have many options that impact their cost. The need for updated or new wiring is one example of this. New wiring for the panel itself is common. However, whole home rewiring is not unless the home is over 75 years old and cannot handle a new panel or the home is undergoing substantial updates through a full remodel. Costs may also be related to the size of the unit. They also may need a new box in many cases. These are available in several sizes, possibly allowing room for additional circuits for growth. For example, prices for the boxes themselves vary for the panel alone, depending on the amperage.
|New Box||Cost (Materials Only)|
|100 Amp Box||$80 - $175|
|150 Amp Box||$150 - $300|
|200 Amp Box||$300 - $400|
|300 Amp Box||$1,200 - $1,800|
|400 Amp Box||$1,700 - $2,500|
The most commonly installed electrical panel brands today include Siemens, Square D, and Leviton. You may also see a brand like Murray, but those panels are smaller amperage and usually not sufficient for the main panel on a home. Siemens panels usually come in 100-amp or 200-amp versions and feature all components the electrician needs to secure the panel. Square-D panels are manufactured by Schneider Electric and are a durable option for electrical panel upgrades. They also manufacture panels for commercial installations. Leviton is another popular manufacturer, which makes their panels with surge protectors, and even offers insurance on their panels should the surge protector fail. Venerated company General Electric (GE) also makes panels. You will also find electrical panels manufactured by Eaton, a company that started out manufacturing car parts.
At one time, most of the panels in residential homes were constructed by companies like Federal Pacific, Zinsco, Sylvania, and Challenger. Federal Pacific panels were commonly installed between 1950 and 1980. Zinsco and Sylvania were most common in the 1970s. Challenger was a popular type of panel up to and through the 1980s. If you find that your electrical panel was manufactured by one of these brands, it is time to update. Federal Pacific panel replacement cost and Zinsco electrical panel replacement cost are in line with overall average replacement costs, so you should not assume a huge replacement bill if you find one of these older panels installed. Although their technology is outdated, upgrading them is quite familiar to any electrician.
|Brand||Cost (Materials Only)|
|Eaton||$80 - $2,300|
|General Electric||$80 - $2,500|
|Siemens||$100 - $1,600|
|Square D||$100 - $2,000|
|Leviton||$120 - $2,000|
The bulk of the cost when you have an electrical panel upgraded or installed comes from labor. Electricians charge $40 to $120 per hour for most jobs. They will bill their clients with separate itemized costs for materials and labor or roll them into one total quote for the entire project. The installation takes four to eight hours with two electricians and may take several days, depending on the wiring in your home and whether it needs to be upgraded. It is not uncommon for labor to represent 40% to 60% of the total cost of the job. Every panel upgrade or replacement includes similar steps, such as copper grounding. Your panel must be grounded, which is usually done through a type of wire. Electrical panels need to be grounded as this improves their overall safety. If a short occurs or the system is overloaded, this minimizes the risk of electrocution and fires.
Most often, electrical panels are visible on walls, minimizing the need to open up the walls. However, if there is a need to access the wiring behind the walls, this adds to the costs, often between $100 and $450, depending on the layout. If switches or outlets need to be added, it is more likely some drywall work is necessary, but electricians work to minimize those added costs by accessing most wires from the panel itself. The cost of drywalling is generally minimal ($20 to $30 for patching for any holes that need to be made). Some panel upgrades even require trenching the wires, which can add a few thousand dollars to the project, especially in the case of a 400-amp panel upgrade. Removing the old panel will also take time and incur a labor charge. Removal takes about an hour, so the cost is approximately $40 to $120 per electrician working on the project. This cost is included in the overall quote.
All of this work must be done by a licensed professional. Poorly placed or positioned wires can lead to an increased risk of fire. The electric service upgrade cost related to these projects is high because of how important having electrical skills is for tasks like this. After the panel upgrade, an inspector from the city or municipality will inspect the work and approve it or ask for changes. The electrician may charge for the final inspection, but they are normally brief and add no more than $100 to the final total. Many electricians include the cost of a final inspection in their proposal rather than billing for it separately.
The cost to install a new electrical panel in new construction takes about four to eight hours. The timeline may increase depending on the location of the new service, the distance of the panel to the street and high-voltage utility wires, and the overall complexity of the installation process. Labor costs depend on the number of hours required to complete the project but range from $40 to $120 for a licensed electrician. The cost to install a new electrical panel also depends on the amperage and the cost of the materials.
In most cases, the labor cost ranges from $320 to $1,920, assuming a project length of four to eight hours with two electricians at work. In new construction, the electrician will install the new electrical panel before any other electrical work. All wires within the home must connect to the panel, so wiring the home will commence after the panel installation is complete. This process is the same when a home is fully renovated and completely gutted, with only the basic framing remaining before new plumbing, electrical work, and carpentry begins.
The cost of an initial electrical inspection is $125 to $250. This inspection is best handled by a licensed electrician or a home inspector with experience in electrical work. Some electricians credit the cost of the initial inspection back to the homeowner if they are chosen for the job. An upgrade inspection allows a licensed professional to determine what type of work is necessary for the project. It is needed whenever a panel needs replacement or the homeowner wants a panel upgrade. This inspection involves a visual assessment of the electrical panel and testing of any circuitry present. This process can take 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the complexity of the job and the inspector's skill.
During the inspection, an electrician may discuss other facets of the project, such as updates beyond the panel to the circuits, outlets, fixtures, and wiring. Note that an initial inspection from an electrician is not mandatory by law, but it usually needs to happen anyway for an electrician to price the project correctly. Also, some municipalities require an inspection from the local power company before any work can begin or before the electrician can pull a permit, where the representative may indicate changes needed during the upgrade, such as new panel placement. New electrical codes sometimes require changes when a panel is replaced.
In most communities, it is also necessary to have the city's building code inspector out to check on the work that needs to be completed. This ensures the project is being done up to code and best practices. Inspections are necessary when the city's building code says they are. This varies from one city to the next and can be verified by your city's building supervisors. A final inspection from the city representative may also occur at the conclusion of work, with the cost included as part of the cost to pull a permit for the job. Permit costs vary greatly, from just $50 to several hundred dollars, depending on the state and the scope of the permit.
There are times when your panel disallows expansion or cannot be easily accessed. Other times, codes and regulations may mean that it must be installed in certain areas to meet code. In these circumstances, you may need to move it. This typically adds a few days of labor costs to the project, with the overall cost depending on how far the panel is moving and the size and length of extra cables required to reach the connection to the power company’s line. The added cost to relocate an electrical panel starts at around $1,000 but can go as high as $4,000 if a lot of rewiring must be done to accommodate the move.
Some projects require the replacement of specific components. They may not need the entire box replaced. If just a circuit breaker switch is blown, damaged, or otherwise not working, replacing just that switch may be possible. It is hard to know what specific component needs replacing unless you are a licensed electrician with equipment to test each component. In that situation, the project cost depends on what is being replaced. Here are some examples:
|Component||Cost (Labor Included)|
|Circuit Breaker Switch||$200 - $250|
|Main Breaker||$200 - $300|
|Meter Box||$200 - $800|
The cost to replace a circuit breaker switch is between $200 and $250, including parts and labor. The circuit breaker switch keeps power moving through the panel. They are designed to trip and break the current in the event of a problem. Indicators that you may need to have the circuit breaker replaced include a burning smell, the breaker is hot to the touch, or the breaker does not stay in reset mode. Visible damage to the breaker is also a sign to replace it.
The cost to replace the main breaker is between $200 and $300 with parts and labor. The main breaker is the switch that shuts off power to the entire home at once. Replacing the main breaker is necessary when it's hot to the touch or trips frequently. In some situations, if the breaker is old, that may be a reason to replace it if safety risks or other upgrades are happening. The main breaker may need replacement if there's any damage to it.
A new meter box is $200 to $800 installed. The meter box is installed on the exterior of your home, holds your meter, and needs to be weathertight and lockable. Meter box replacement may be warranted if the home is older and has not been updated before, the lights flicker often, or the breakers trip frequently. Any shocks occurring when touching the light switches or outlets is another sign of a need to replace the meter box. It may also simply stop working due to physical damage.
The cost of replacing a fuse box with a circuit breaker typically ranges from $1,500 to $4,500, depending on the desired amperage. Fuse boxes and circuit breakers do the same job, allowing electricity to flow to different parts of your home. They both interrupt that flow in the event of a power overload or surge that could start a fire or damage the wiring. A circuit breaker has a switch that trips to break the current. To reset it, flip the switch back to the on position. A fuse box, comparatively, utilizes fuses that contain a filament wire. The wire is designed to break when overloaded, so you must replace the fuse to fix it.
Fuse boxes were installed up to the 1960s and are very uncommon to find today. They still exist and continue to work. However, electrical needs have grown since then, and most fuse boxes are too small and need to be replaced. Most commonly, it is necessary to replace an existing fuse box with a more modern breaker panel. The cost to upgrade a fuse box with a circuit breaker may be a necessary investment in keeping your home up to the area's code.
Homeowners may not have much insight into whether the wiring of an electrical panel is in poor condition. If there is fire damage, melting, or obvious fraying of the wires, do not touch them or try to remove them. Often, this cannot be noted until the electrician opens up the panel for a visual inspection. When an electrician inspects the unit, they will specifically look at the wiring for evidence of fraying, melting, or other problems. This is one of the first steps they will take to determine the extent of the work.
Rewiring an electrical panel is a component of upgrade or replacement. Electric panels are the hub for all wiring running through the home. Sometimes replacing just one or two circuits is necessary, which requires less wiring than replacing the entire wiring system. If this needs to be done throughout the home, the costs rise. On average, the cost of rewiring an electrical panel ranges from $500 to $4,500, depending on the amount of wiring that needs to be completed. This includes labor and material costs. If just one or two breakers need rewiring, the costs are much lower. Expect to pay on the lower end for the project. This may take two to three hours to complete at a rate of $40 to $120 per hour.
Most homeowners should rely on the guidance of an electrician to determine the size of an electrical panel. Most homes need at least 100 amps. This provides enough power for a medium-sized home. That amount of amperage provides enough power for several 240-volt appliances and heating and cooling systems. An upgrade to 150 to 200 amps may be beneficial if the home has numerous appliances requiring more power. Panels in the 300-amp and 400-amp size are still fairly rare. Homeowners may install them when they build a large addition on their home or need the electricity for a substantial installation like a large, heated pool, a workshop with large power tools, or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).
For complete accuracy, it is possible to add up all of the power-drawing systems in the home, such as all electronics, refrigeration, heating and cooling, and others, to determine how many amps are needed. Homeowners can add up this power consumption need, but an electrician can also write up this document, known as a load schedule. Note that experienced electricians can recommend a panel upgrade with or without a load schedule based on a routine visual inspection of the panel and home.
Upgrading an electrical panel may be necessary if the existing system does not provide enough power to meet the needs of your home. A home addition, a new workshop, numerous higher-powered appliances, and electronics may warrant upgrading. Updating your electrical box has many advantages. If your home is older, you likely cannot run your electronics efficiently. You may notice flickering lights or slowly charging devices. You may also observe more tripped circuits, which means you constantly have interruptions in your electricity. If you have an older panel, it may be one that has been linked to electrical fires, such as Stab Lok. Stab Lok was a brand of circuit breaker panels installed from the 1950s to the 1980s that was found to possess a very high failure rate and danger to homeowners. Updating may prevent this risk.
Newer units are more efficient. If you have a high electricity load, updating your panel may lower your electricity costs. They also allow you to use more power. If you plan on adding more appliances or expanding your home, a larger panel manages the new load comfortably and safely. In some cases, there is a clear indication you need more power, and upgrading is necessary. That includes instances when circuit breakers trip often, the house does not have at least 100 amps of power, or you need to unplug some appliances to power another. If any component of your system is physically damaged, the wires are tangled, or safety concerns exist, upgrade. During a major home remodel, this may prove to be valuable.
Indoor and outdoor electrical panels work in the same way and cost the same. However, those placed outside are weatherproof or weather resistant. That means they are less likely to be damaged by rain or freezing conditions. An outdoor electrical box may be installed for outdoor structures, such as barns, gazebos, saunas, or pools. Many areas have regulations that require an outdoor installation of a main electrical service. This allows firefighters to turn off power to the home if necessary. When upgrading an interior unit, homeowners in states where exterior panels are not mandated may need a master switch installed outside, increasing the cost of the project.
Homes built after 2000 typically have exterior systems. If a home has an existing panel inside, it is most likely that a new replacement unit will be placed in that same location outside. If there is one outside, which is common in newer homes, replacing it will be done in the same location. Overall, the difference in cost for installing an indoor electrical panel versus an outdoor electrical panel is minimal, mostly due to the more expensive weatherproofed materials required for outdoor panels.
If you want to move your indoor system outdoors, the power company may request panel placement that is not close to the original panel. In such cases, costs may increase because of additional wiring required for the project. Take a look at the table below to see how costs may differ with indoor versus outdoor electrical panel installations. Note that costs are based on installing a 100- or 200-amp panel and that 300-amp and 400-amp panels are not normally installed inside.
|System Location||Average Costs (Installed)|
|Indoor||$1,200 - $4,000|
|Outdoor||$1,500 - $4,500|
An electrical outlet is the small receptacle located on a wall where an appliance or other item is plugged into to draw power. A breaker is a switch located in the outlet or the box that breaks the movement of power through the wires if something is not right, such as water is detected. There are two types of breakers commonly found. Both AFCI (Arc Fault Connection Interrupters) and GFCI (Ground Fault Connection Interrupters) are integral to safety. AFCI breakers protect against fire from faulty wires or circuits. GFCI protects people from fatal electric shock. Your electrical circuit box must do both, although you will only notice the difference in the types of outlets your home has. AFCIs are located in most rooms, and GFCIs are for wet areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens. A GFCI breaker costs between $5 and $100, whereas an AFCI breaker costs between $50 and $100 per breaker, not including labor. Both of these breakers come with a reset. If it is tripped, the reset button must be pushed. GFCIs are typically used in wet areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry areas, and garages. AFCI outlets and breakers are now required in all new construction or electrical remodeling/repairs because they prevent arcing in the event of a fire. They are commonly used in bathrooms, kitchens, and sleeping areas. The table below illustrates the difference in cost between the two breaker types.
|Breaker Type||Cost (Materials Only)|
|GFCI||$5 - $100|
|AFCI||$50 - $100|
Depending on the age of your panel, you may need some of the existing wire repaired or replaced. This costs $6 to $8 per linear foot for the needed wiring. Any wiring within an old system may have damage or create a safety risk. It is safer and less likely to cause problems if new wiring is added. It is much easier to change out the wiring now during the installation than waiting until there is a problem and needing to pull the entire panel off to start over.
The average cost to add a subpanel ranges from $100 to $400 for the materials. The price depends on the size and location. The full cost is similar to a standard electrical panel. A subpanel is a smaller service panel that distributes power to a specific area rather than the entire home as a standard unit does. They’re commonly installed in garages or where there is a need for substantial electricity, as well as for individual units in a duplex or triplex. Electrical subpanels may create more space and help organize the wiring. The installation may include a main lug panel as the subpanel, where the electrician attaches the wires directly to the lugs in the panel with the circuit breaker located in the main panel rather than the lug panel.
Having a schematic drawn of your electrical wiring is very helpful for homeowners. It provides the locations of the electrical system components, making future repairs easier. This is done at an hourly rate of $40 to $120 by your electrician. Homeowners may want to pay for a schematic when they intend on arranging for a full rewire of the home at a later date after the panel upgrade or want to upgrade some circuits and install new lights, appliances, or fixtures.
No, this work requires a permit, inspection, and a licensed electrician. Because of the complexity of electrical panels and the risk of a small error in the wiring process, this is a task for a licensed professional. It may also be a requirement for local building code that a licensed electrician install it.
There is no one answer, but if you notice that your panel is older, has burn marks, or does not seem to be working well, you should upgrade.
The amps refer to how much electricity the panel can manage without overloading. A 200 amp panel can comfortably run many more appliances and power strips than a 100 amp panel.
If your circuits trip frequently, you notice burn marks, or your lights flicker, it means your panel is overloaded. You may have dimming lights, or there may be a buzzing sound coming from the outlets or switches in the home.
An electrical panel or breaker panel is a metal box on the home that receives power from utility lines. The electrical current at the panel travels to outlets and devices through energized wires, and the current is sent back to the panel along neutral wires. Over time, panels age and the electricity demands of the average home increase, necessitating a panel upgrade.