Table of Contents
- 1 Factors in Calculating Electrical Panel Cost
- 2 Additional Costs and Considerations
- 3 Electrical Panel Types
- 4 Do I Need to Replace My Electrical Panel?
- 4.1 Age
- 4.2 Rust and Damage
- 4.3 Burning Smell
- 4.4 Overheating
- 4.5 Crackling or Buzzing Noises
- 4.6 Frequently Tripped Breakers
- 4.7 Flickering or Dimming Lights
- 4.8 Slowly Charging Devices
- 4.9 Too Few Outlets
- 4.10 Low Amperage
- 4.11 Outdated System Upgrades
- 4.12 Black Outlet Holes
- 4.13 Increased Energy Costs
- 4.14 Upgraded Appliances or Systems
- 4.15 Local Codes and Regulations
- 5 Replacing an Electrical Panel: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
- 6 How to Save Money on Electrical Panel Replacement
- 7 Questions to Ask About Electrical Panel Replacement
- 8 FAQs
- 8.1 Q. How much is it to upgrade an electrical panel from 100 to 200 amps?
- 8.2 Q. When should I upgrade my electrical panel?
- 8.3 Q. Why should I upgrade or replace my electrical box?
- 8.4 Q. How much will it cost to replace circuit breakers in my trailer?
- 8.5 Q. How much does it cost to get electricity connected and a new panel installed in a new house?
- 8.6 Q. How long does it take to replace an electrical panel?
- Typical Range: $530 to $1,962
- National Average: $1,174
An updated electrical panel keeps all the appliances, computers, smart TVs, and gadgets in a house running smoothly. If your current breaker box can’t keep up with the electrical usage in your home, it may be time for an upgrade. And it’s important to note that electrical panels that are 25 to 40 years old are considered a fire hazard and should be replaced. According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, electrical panel replacement cost can range from $530 to $1,962, with many homeowners spending about $1,174.
The cost to replace electrical panel parts, such as wiring and breakers, depends on what type of replacement or repair is needed. If new outlets, additional panels, a different kind of breaker box, or increasing the amount of amperage is required, the breaker box replacement cost can quickly add up. The type of breaker box, size, and location within the home also affect the new breaker box cost. Labor costs are typically dependent on the job’s complexity, but it’s common for electricians to charge between $40 and $120 or more per hour, depending on the difficulty of the project. Here we’ll examine how to calculate electrical panel cost, additional price considerations, the different types of electrical panels, and some frequently asked questions regarding electrical panel replacement.
Factors in Calculating Electrical Panel Cost
The final cost to replace an electrical panel depends on several factors. These can include electrical panel type, amperage, location, brand, materials, labor, and permits. On average, it costs $1,174 to replace a breaker box, but the following factors can influence the total cost.
Electrical Panel Type
There are a few different types of electrical panels: the main lug panel, the main breaker panel, fuse boxes, and subpanels. The main breaker panel controls the circuit breakers and how much electricity is used within the home. The new electrical panel cost is dependent on what type of panel is needed.
Electrical Panel Amperage
If you’re wondering, “How much is a new electrical panel?” a significant part of the cost is determined by the electrical panel’s amperage, or the strength of the electrical current. Increasing the amperage means some of the resistance in the circuit is removed so that a stronger current can flow. Homeowners interested in increasing the amperage should first check with the utility company to see if the supply line can support additional power. Costs can increase drastically if the power line needs to be upgraded. Here are the prices to upgrade an electrical panel’s amperage.
- 100 amps: If you live in an older home that has an electrical panel with only 60 to 80 amps, you may need an upgrade to power a modern home; 100 amps is typically considered the minimum amount of amps a home needs. An 80-amp panel can be upgraded by installing a 20-amp subpanel or by installing a new unit within the existing box if it’s big enough. This can cost between $500 to $1,500.
- 150 amps: Upgrading to 150-amp service costs between $500 and $1,750. If many appliances run simultaneously or if multiple power strips are in use,150 amps offer more electrical flexibility. A subpanel can be used for an upgrade, but some homeowners prefer to install a brand-new box.
- 200 amps: Larger homes over 1,800 square feet with additions, high energy demands, garages, and multiple appliances operating simultaneously can benefit from a 200-amp electrical panel. This upgrade can run between $750 to $2,000.
- 300 amps: A 300-amp service upgrade can cost between $1,800 and $3,500. This significant upgrade is rare but beneficial for larger-than-average homes or if there is a workshop attached to the house. This type of power is needed for sizable refrigeration systems, hot tubs, and high-energy appliances. Keep in mind that some utility companies may not approve this type of upgrade except for specific circumstances.
- 400 amps: An upgrade to 400 amps is needed when specialty equipment or electronics need a massive amount of electricity. This can run from $1,500 to $4,000 or more. This upgrade is typically done with two 200-amp panels installed on opposite ends of the house, and the utility company will need to replace the wiring and meter base. These costs can rapidly rise because of the underground conduit and high labor prices for installation. If the home is more than 100 feet back from the street, the cost to upgrade electrical panel components will be much higher.
Electrical panels can be located in any area of a home, and a centralized, easy-to-access location is the most beneficial. Newer homes may have the electrical panel installed outside the home in a weatherproof or weather-resistant box. This makes it safe and easy to turn off the power during an emergency. If a homeowner wants to move the electrical panel from inside the home to outside, a complete rewiring will be necessary. The existing panel and wiring will be removed, a new panel installed outside, and new wiring run throughout the house. Moving the electrical panel outside can cost from $1,500 to $2,500. If the electrical box also needs to be moved, it will add to the overall cost. The project estimate will increase if the electrical box is located inside and the electrician needs to tear out part of the wall to access the wiring. Drywall repair costs average between $300 and $850, or about $1.50 per square foot.
There are quite a few brands of electrical panels to choose from when deciding on a replacement, and they all have different types of warranties and price ranges. Some of the top electrical panel brands are Eaton, General Electric (GE), Leviton, Siemens, and Square D.
If you notice that you have a Federal Pacific or Zinsco electrical panel in your home, it’s strongly recommended to replace it as soon as possible. These panels were installed in homes built from the 1950s to 1980s and do not meet current building codes. They are considered an extreme fire risk when they malfunction because the breakers don’t trip and will start a fire. The cost to replace these electrical panels ranges from $1,500 to $4,000. The same problems have been reported for Challenger and PushMatic electrical boxes.
How much to replace electrical panel materials? That hinges on exactly what is needed for the job. When replacing or upgrading an electrical panel, you may also need to replace worn-out wiring, damaged circuits, or old receptacles. Any additional materials that are needed will increase the cost of the project.
Labor and Permits
The majority of the cost of replacing an electrical panel comes from labor. Many electricians charge between $40 and $120 or more per hour. Replacing an electrical panel can take between 4 and 8 hours, not including any additional rewiring or moving the panel. If the electrician needs to access wiring inside the walls, labor costs can increase, often from $100 to $450. Drywall repair and patching would also be necessary, which would drive up the overall costs.
Electrical panel replacement requires a permit. Many electricians will pull the permit and add the cost, which is typically between $50 and $300 or more. You’ll want to double-check with your electrician to see if the price of a permit is included in the estimate or if it will be an extra charge. After the work is finished, you or the electrician will then need to schedule an inspection with the town. This ensures the electrical work is done correctly.
Additional Costs and Considerations
When planning for the cost to replace an electrical panel, it’s helpful to know about any additional costs and considerations. These can include electrical panel relocation, rewiring, subpanel installation, electric meter replacement, fuse box replacement, fuse or switch replacement, trenching, additional outlets, and drywall repair.
Electrical Panel Relocation
Moving an electrical panel can run from $1,000 to $3,000. The price can vary depending on the number of circuits, whether the panel is located indoors or outdoors, whether the existing box can be used as a circuit junction, and how many floors the home has.
Electrical panel rewiring can cost from $500 to $4,500, including labor and materials. Replacing just a few circuits will cost less than if the entire house needs to be rewired. A professional will need to inspect the electrical panel to determine the extent of the work.
Subpanel installation cost depends on the number of circuits and the amperage. Subpanels have between four and 20 additional circuits, and the amperage ranges from 100 to 150 amps. Homeowners who include an addition to their home or install an inground pool typically opt for a subpanel installation to provide additional amperage and increase the power. The cost to install a subpanel ranges from $400 to $1,750.
Electric Meter Replacement
A new electric meter box costs between $100 to $650 to install, including materials and labor; the unit alone costs $50 to $250. A meter box is located on the home’s exterior and, as the name suggests, contains the meter. The box should be lockable and weather-resistant. An electric meter box should be replaced if you need to add more circuits via a subpanel, if it’s damaged, or if the amperage is being increased. Additionally, older meter boxes can contain mercury and should be replaced. Newer boxes are usually digital and provide a more accurate reading of electrical usage.
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Fuse Box Replacement
Fuse box replacement is common to ensure a home complies with the local electrical codes. Typically installed through the 1960s, fuse boxes are less common now. Fuses do the same job as circuit breakers but in a different way: They both block the flow of electricity in the event of an electrical surge that could damage wiring or create a fire. However, a fuse contains a filament wire that breaks when it’s overloaded, and a circuit breaker breaks the current when the switch trips. Fuse boxes were not designed to handle the amount of electricity that passes through a modern home, and installing bigger fuses can increase the possibility of a fire. The cost to replace a fuse box runs from $200 to $2,000.
Fuse or Switch Replacement
Replacing a circuit breaker switch can cost between $100 and $200. For 15- to 20-amp switches, the cost averages $5 to $15 each, and 15- to 20-amp fuses cost between $5 and $10 for a pack of three. Older fuses can cost up to $70 and can be challenging to find.
Homeowners may opt to bury an overhead line while replacing an electrical panel. Keep in mind that different professionals would need to be hired to dig the trench and install the wiring.
Many homeowners choose to add more outlets when they replace the electrical panel. By adding extra outlets, they can save on labor costs by getting all the electrical work completed at the same time. The cost to add an outlet is between $100 and $185 and depends on location, wiring, and if new circuits need to be added.
If a wall needs to be opened up to replace wiring or to add outlets or switches, drywall repair costs range from $300 to $850, or about $1.50 per square foot.
Electrical Panel Types
The cost to replace an electrical panel depends on the type of panel that’s needed and how long it will take to install.
The main breaker turns off all the electricity in a home at the same time. A main breaker may need to be replaced if it trips frequently, if the switch is hot to the touch, if it’s damaged, or for safety reasons if the breaker is old. It can cost between $500 and $2,000, depending on the amperage and the number of circuits. If a homeowner plans on adding rooms to the house, a subpanel may need to be installed to handle the additional electricity requirements.
The average cost to replace a fuse box with a circuit breaker panel is between $1,000 and $2,000 or more, depending on the amount of new wiring that’s needed. The filament wire inside the fuse will break when it’s overloaded, and the fuse will need to be replaced. Fuse boxes are often replaced with circuit breaker boxes for safety and convenience.
Installing a subpanel can cost from $400 to $1,750. These smaller panels act as a service panel that directs power to a particular area rather than the entire home. A subpanel is a good way to add circuits or additional amperage to a home.
Main Lug Panels
A main lug panel, also known as a downstream or secondary panel, doesn’t contain the main breaker—it’s used as a subpanel of the main breaker. When the main breaker has run out of space for additional circuit breakers, a lug panel is installed to decrease the load and act as a distribution panel.
Do I Need to Replace My Electrical Panel?
There are many reasons to replace an electrical panel. Replacing or upgrading the electrical panel can fulfill your home’s power demands, prevent electrical fires, and ensure the electronics and appliances are working efficiently. If the panel is older or damaged, or if your home experiences frequently tripped breakers, it’s time for a replacement.
Older homes typically do not have the power to run modern appliances and electronics efficiently. Flickering lights and regularly tripped breakers are a sign of an aging electrical panel that doesn’t have enough power to meet a modern home’s electricity needs. Older panels with poor connections are also a fire hazard.
Rust and Damage
Rust in an electrical panel shows that water has infiltrated the box. Rust and corrosion increase the risk of an electrical panel fire and will make the panel unsafe to use. Any type of visible damage is a sign to replace the electrical panel.
Power surges can damage the wiring and cause it to melt. A burning smell coming from an electrical panel signifies that it’s unsafe to use and should be replaced.
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Loose wiring connections can cause overheating and arcing, which can cause house fires. If an electrical panel is hot to the touch, it should be replaced.
Crackling or Buzzing Noises
Buzzing or crackling sounds coming from the electrical panel could mean a breaker is not tripping when it should. This is a sign of wire failure and can result in a house fire.
Frequently Tripped Breakers
If the circuit breakers regularly trip, that’s a signal that the electrical system is overloaded or there is a problem with the panel or wiring. There may not be enough amperage to power the home’s electrical needs, or the panel is undersized.
Flickering or Dimming Lights
An electrical panel that is too small for the home or faulty wiring can result in flickering or dimming lights. Keep in mind that LED light bulbs may flicker if they’ve been on for an extended period.
Slowly Charging Devices
If you notice electrical devices charging slowly, this is a sign that an underpowered electrical panel isn’t meeting the power demands of a home.
Too Few Outlets
Using multiple power strips to make up for the lack of outlets can cause the strips to overload. In older homes, it’s common for a few rooms to be on the same circuit, and using power strips can overload the circuit. If an older home has too few outlets, the electrical panel should be replaced and more circuits added.
Homes with additions or significant electrical usage will need to upgrade to a higher amperage to support the power demand. It’s common for older homes to have lower amperage because they didn’t have modern appliances, computers, electronic devices, or central air conditioning to power.
Outdated System Upgrades
Many older system upgrades do not meet current safety standards or local codes. Older replaced parts can be worn, and circuits can be damaged. Calling in a professional to look at the electrical panel can determine what parts need to be replaced and if rewiring is necessary.
Black Outlet Holes
Brown or black marks around outlet holes are a sign that they’re getting too hot and are overloaded. This is when a professional should be called in to replace them and assess the wiring in the entire house.
Increased Energy Costs
If you notice your home electricity bill increasing without altering your current usage, an electrician can examine the power usage and make sure the wiring and electrical panel is in good condition. Replacing or upgrading the panel could result in lower electricity bills in the future.
Upgraded Appliances or Systems
An undersized electrical panel should be upgraded if you buy new electrical appliances that have a higher power demand. Using new appliances without recognizing the power demand needed could result in frequently tripped breakers and overloading the panel.
Local Codes and Regulations
It may be necessary to replace an electrical panel to be in compliance with local codes and regulations. Electrical panel installation and placement is regulated by building codes intended to prevent fires. Inspections after the electrical panel replacement will determine if the installation meets the codes successfully.
Replacing an Electrical Panel: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Replacing an electrical panel is a serious and potentially hazardous job. A licensed professional should be the one to replace an electrical panel and any wiring that’s needed for the job. Electricians know the local codes and safety requirements to guarantee the installation is done properly and safely. Attempting an electrical panel installation without the needed experience and knowledge can result in incorrect wiring and loose connections, which could result in extensive repairs or a house fire. It’s common for insurance companies to not cover any damage to the home if an electrical panel was installed by an inexperienced homeowner.
How to Save Money on Electrical Panel Replacement
Budgeting for the cost to replace an electrical panel can be daunting, and the additional fees associated with the project can quickly add up. One way to save money would be to hire the cheapest electrician you can find, but there are other ways to save without compromising on quality.
- Get multiple quotes. Get at least three quotes from reputable electricians in your area.
- Bundle renovation projects. If you’re renovating your home and need an electrician to add outlets or wire a new addition, replacing the electrical panel at the same time can lead to discounts. Ask your electrician if adding a replacement project would save money on the overall cost.
- Consider replacing the meter box. Replacing the meter box at the same time as replacing the electrical panel can save money on labor costs.
- Let the electrician buy the supplies. Professional electricians have contacts that allow them to get better deals on electrical panels and supplies. They can buy the parts for less than the average homeowner and can pass along the savings.
- Saving energy is saving money. By replacing an outdated electrical panel, you can save money by using the proper amount of energy for your home.
- Replace only what’s needed. If the wiring is in good shape, replacing circuits instead of rewiring the entire home can save money. If it’s recommended that the entire house needs to be rewired, don’t skimp. Replacing wiring can prevent overloading and house fires.
- DIY what you can. If you’re experienced with drywall patching and repair, tackle that part of the job on your own. Paint walls yourself instead of hiring someone else.
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Questions to Ask About Electrical Panel Replacement
Asking a professional electrician the right questions about electrical panel replacement can minimize miscommunication and maximize savings. Here are some questions to ask about electrical panel replacement.
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Do you have references?
- How much does it cost to replace an electrical panel?
- Do I need a whole panel replacement?
- Do I need a permit for the replacement?
- Will you take care of the permit process?
- How does the inspection process work?
- Do you offer any discounts for bundling electrical projects?
- How long will the replacement take?
- Who will install the replacement panel?
- How long will my house be without electricity?
Staying within your budget for electrical panel replacement can be challenging. Here are some frequently asked questions about electrical panel replacement to help guide you in your decisions.
Q. How much is it to upgrade an electrical panel from 100 to 200 amps?
The cost to upgrade an electrical panel from 100 to 200 amps runs from $750 to $2,000. New wiring and additional circuits will increase the overall cost.
Q. When should I upgrade my electrical panel?
An electrical panel should be upgraded and replaced if:
- The original panel is more than 25 years old.
- There aren’t enough outlets in the house and you’re using multiple power strips.
- You’re planning on adding new appliances and need more power.
- You’re constructing additions and adding new electrical systems.
Q. Why should I upgrade or replace my electrical box?
Your electrical box may need to be replaced if you notice flickering lights, discoloration around outlet holes, or damage in the electrical panel. If you’re planning on adding appliances or if you have an old fuse box, you may also want to upgrade or replace your electrical panel.
Q. How much will it cost to replace circuit breakers in my trailer?
Replacing circuit breakers in a trailer averages $100 to $200 each.
Q. How much does it cost to get electricity connected and a new panel installed in a new house?
The cost for a new electrical panel runs from $600 to $2,200. If the electricity lines are close to your home, connecting them may be free, but the cost can range from $25 to $50 per foot.
Q. How long does it take to replace an electrical panel?
It can take from 4 to 8 hours or more to replace an electrical panel.