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 functionality and safety benefits.
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 $4,000, with most homeowners paying around $2,500 to replace an existing panel with a new model with new housing. Costs can be as low as $800 for upgrading to a 100 amp unit only with no housing or as high as $10,000 for upgrading to a new 400 amp system with new housing.
|Electrical Circuit Panel Upgrading or Replacement Costs|
|National average cost||$2,500|
The age of an electrical panel does not typically impact when it should be upgraded or replaced. Rather, if the system is faulty or no longer functional, an upgrade or replacement becomes necessary. It may be necessary to replace an existing system if the current electrical unit no longer meets the city's code standards, is undersized to meet the home's needs, or operates at maximum capacity. If the system is no longer safe due to smoke, fire, or other damage, replace it.
If the circuit breakers constantly trip, that is an indication that the system is overloaded or there is a fault present. It may also indicate undersizing of the panel, warranting replacement. It may be possible to upgrade an existing box by making component changes, such as changing out wiring or breakers, when the problem can be pinpointed to a specific area. The cost to upgrade a house electrical system depends, of course, on what needs to be done.
If your electrical panel no longer meets the needs of your home, it is necessary to remove it and install a new one with more amperage. If, on the other hand, the problem with the system relates to safety, you also need to replace the current panel with a new one, just at the same amperage as the original.
|Project||Average Cost (Labor Included)|
|Upgrading||$800 - $4,000|
|Replacement||$1,200 - $4,500|
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:
|Upgrade||Average Cost (Labor Included)|
|To 100 Amps||$800 - $1,200|
|To 150 Amps||$1,100 - $1,500|
|To 200 Amps||$1,300 - $3,000|
|To 300 Amps||$1,800 - $3,500|
|To 400 Amps||$8,000 - $10,000|
The cost to upgrade to 100 amp service is typically between $800 and $1,200, 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 amps are considered the minimum that most households need. You can upgrade from 80 amps to 100 amps by using a subpanel to add the extra amperage, or you can replace the unit in its existing box if the box is large enough.
The cost to upgrade to 150 amp service ranges from $1,100 to $1,500. 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. In some cases, you can use a subpanel to upgrade to 150 amps, but you may need to upgrade the entire panel.
Upgrading to 200 amp service typically costs $1,300 to $3,000, depending on your current setup. Your home has flexibility in electricity usage with 200 amps. Large properties or those with additions, garages, many appliances, dual 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.
The cost to upgrade to a 300 amp service ranges from $1,800 to $3,500, depending on your current setup. It is rare for a home to need this amount of electrical access. However, it may be beneficial if there is a workshop onsite or if the home is quite large. Some utility companies will not meet that need unless there are specific circumstances involved. Homes with numerous high-energy appliances, such as hot tubs and large refrigeration needs may also benefit from this upgrade.
The average range to upgrade a panel to 400 amps is between $8,000 and $10,000, with total costs ranging from $2,000 to $20,000, depending on the home. This is a fairly rare project for most homes unless you have specialty equipment and electronics that require a significant amount of electricity. If you have 400 amps, this can handle an enormous load and provide much more than what the average household needs. This may be a good option for those who need more capacity. To upgrade to 400 amps, you generally use two 200 amp panels, which may be installed together or at opposite ends of the home. You also need to upgrade your meter base and the wiring from the electric company that leads to your home. This is in a buried conduit, so you will have considerably high labor costs for the installation, wiring, and other components. If the wires already in place can handle the load, your costs will be much lower. If your home is set back from the street by more than 100 feet or is very large, your costs can be much higher.
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.
Replacement of an electrical panel, or circuit breaker, is among the most common projects affecting the wiring in a home. There are many reasons to replace your old model, from a Stab Lok that has a fire risk to experiencing burn marks on your current unit. If your electrical needs have changed, it is possible to upgrade yours when you replace it. The replacement cost depends on the make and model, amperage, and location:
|Type||Average Cost (Panel Only)||Average Cost (Labor Included)|
|100 Amps||$100 - $200||$1,200 - $2,500|
|125 Amps||$150 - $250||$1,700 - $2,700|
|150 Amps||$150 - $400||$1,800 - $3,000|
|200 Amps||$200 - $800||$3,500 - $4,500|
The cost to replace a 100 amp electrical panel ranges from $1,200 to $2,500. A damaged or dangerous electrical unit may require replacement. With a 100 amp system being a common option for smaller homes, replacing an existing one may be necessary if the current unit cannot be expanded enough to meet the home's new needs. It is not uncommon to replace a panel of this size in older homes as new demands increase in many homes thanks to smart TVs, larger appliances, and other bigger draws on electrical needs. In some areas, the minimum panel size is 200 amps, so be sure to check with your electrician before proceeding with this replacement.
The cost to replace a 125 amp electrical panel ranges from $1,700 to $2,700, with a typical setup. This is another configuration that is somewhat common in smaller to moderately sized homes. Rust and corrosion are other reasons for replacing a panel of this size with a new one. Most people will not upgrade just for the extra 25 amps but to increase amperage slightly when other repairs need to be made in the existing system. There are some areas where the minimum panel size is 200 amps, so be sure to check with your electrician and local codes before proceeding with this replacement.
The cost to replace a 150 amp panel typically ranges from $1,800 to $3,000. A 150 amp electrical panel is a common option for average homes in the U.S. Amp replacement is necessary when the existing system cannot be upgraded to meet new needs or when there is a safety risk to the existing system. Check with your electrician and local codes before proceeding with this replacement because in some areas, the minimum panel size is 200 amps.
The average cost to replace a 200 amp panel is $3,500 to $4,500. A 200 amp panel is less commonly needed for smaller homes but tends to be a standard option for larger homes with over 2,000 sq.ft. of living space. In these homes, replacing the unit is likely only needed when the system is no longer safe to operate due to smoke, fire, or other damage.
Electrical panels have many options that impact their cost. The need for wiring is one example of this. New wiring for the panel itself is common. However, whole home rewiring is not. 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|
|125 Amp Box||$115 -$250|
|150 Amp Box||$150 - $300|
|200 Amp Box||$300 - $400|
This kind of installation typically takes eight to ten hours, depending on the location and complexity of the project. Labor costs are based on a combination of the complexity of the process but range from $40 to $120 per hour for a licensed electrician, with most people paying around $100 an hour. The labor portion of the cost ranges from $320 to $1,200, with $1,000 for labor being common. Some projects may take longer, especially if significant changes to the system are made, such as moving the box to a new area. One example of added costs involves wiring. The cost of a new electrical panel and wiring is on the higher side of these averages because wiring takes a significantly longer time (depending on how much new wiring is necessary.)
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. The installation takes a minimum of eight hours 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 cost from $1,000 to $3,000 per job.
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).
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.
Upgrading an electrical panel means purchasing new components with a higher amperage. Replacing one means removing it to replace it with a new one without adding any additional amperage to the system.
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||Average Cost (Labor Included)|
|Circuit Breaker Switch||$200 - $250|
|Main Breaker||$200 - $300|
|Meter Box||$500 - $700|
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 $500 to $700 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.
The cost of an electrical inspection is typically $75 to $100 but can be as high as $125 for larger homes. This inspection is performed by an electrician or a home inspector with a license or experience. An upgrade inspection allows a licensed professional to determine what type of work is necessary for the project. 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.
In some communities, it is also important 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.
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 takes several days to complete, with the project cost varying depending on how far it is moving, the amps, and whether you upgrade or replace the panel at the same time. The 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.
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.
An electrical panel directs power throughout the home along numerous pathways to the home's outlets. Initially, power comes into the home from power lines running outside the home and travels to the electrical panel, which directs where power is going. The power leaves the panel on energized wires. The power then moves through the system to the desired outlet or device plugged into it. The power then travels back to the panel along neutral wires.
They can be located anywhere in the home, with a centralized location beneficial in most cases. If any component of this system is not functioning properly, there is the risk of electrocution. In addition, frayed or damaged wires can create a risk of a fire. In some cases, an overload can happen. This means too many appliances or devices are drawing on the power, causing it to short circuit and stop working. If the home is pulling too much power, this is a risk.
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.
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. However, it is more common to allow electricians to make recommendations.
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 experience flickering lights or slowly charging devices. You may also notice 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. 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 the unit. This allows firefighters to turn off power to the home if necessary. 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. Keep in mind that electrical boxes and panels refer to the same thing, the metal housing for the electrical system.
If you want to move your indoor system outdoors, it requires a full home rewiring. To do this, the electrician would remove the existing system with all wiring. Then, they would install the new box outdoors and run wiring again through the house. This would essentially double the cost of installing a box in the same place. Expect to pay between $4,000 and $9,000. There may not be a valid reason to do this other than to make the box more accessible.
|System Location||Average Costs (Installed)|
|Indoor||$1,500 - $4,000|
|Outdoor||$4,000 - $9,000|
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 $35 and $50, whereas an AFCI breaker costs between $25 and $60 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.
|Breaker Type||Cost (Materials Only)|
|AFCI||$25 - $60|
|GFCI||$35 - $50|
There are numerous manufacturers of electrical panels. This has changed over the years as new technology and styles are developed. Two key companies to know include Federal Pacific Panel and Zinsco. To know if you have one of these, look on the box for the labeling from the manufacturer. Here is what you need to know if you find either of these names listed.
Federal Pacific Electric Panels were commonly used in the 1950s through the 1980s. Many remain in homes today. This style no longer meets code and safety regulations because the circuits can overload or a short can occur. This can lead to an increased risk of a fire.
Zinsco panels were popular during the 1970s and are still present in some older homes. The key problem with this style is that the circuit breakers may melt, preventing the box from stopping an overload and increasing the risk of a fire.
If you have these in your home, you will need to replace them in most cases. The costs for doing so are the same as replacing any other electrical panel in the home. Most commonly, replacing a Zinsco electrical box or a Federal Pacific Electric Panel ranges from $1,200 to $4,500.
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. This is a smaller service panel that distributes power to a specific area rather than the entire home as a standard unit does. It may be used for a secondary building on the property as well. It is necessary when a significantly higher number of amps is needed because of a workshop or home addition. Electrical subpanels may create more space or add more transparency to the system by allowing for better organization. They can separate services among various areas or apartments, too. The cost to install electrical sub-panel systems depends on where it is needed and the size added. The actual price for an electrical subpanel is much the same as adding a standard electrical panel.
Before a new panel can be installed, the old one must be removed. This is usually added as labor in a replacement job because a large part of the project involves removing the old and installing the new. Expect removal to take at least an hour at $40 to $120 an hour.
Your panel must be grounded, which is usually done through a type of wire. Copper grounding is the most common at $1.50 a linear foot for materials. 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. It helps to stop the flow of power through the system.
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.
The cost of upgrading an electrical panel ranges from $800 to upgrade a 100 amp panel to $10,000 to upgrade a 400 amp panel. This depends on the size and complexity of the project.
The cost to replace an electrical panel ranges from $1,200 to $4,500, depending on the complexity of the project. In most cases, that includes the electrician's hourly rate of $40 to $120 per hour.
If your home is older and you notice that your lights flicker or your appliances do not run at peak efficiency, consider upgrading your panel.
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.