Earlier this week, I mentioned that one of the things you need to look at when you’re getting ready to do summertime electrical upgrades and additions is to look at an electrical panel upgrade.
That seems scary, doesn’t it? When I thought about upgrading one of our three electrical panels on our new-to-us home, my budget-constricted heart squeezed and a little voice inside my head said, “They’re all going to laugh at you!”
Why? Because I knew the electrician would come out, give me a quote, and then he’d laugh at me when I said, “I can’t afford that!”
And then I remembered I’ve been in the electrical trade for over 20 years, and I know people! Owning a home has really changed my initial perception.
Electric panel upgrades are a big ticket item, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Here are a few things you should know and consider before calling you friendly neighborhood electrician.
Brands Make a Difference
We all know that different brands offer different things, but you might think that when it comes to breaker panels, one is just like another. I mean, what’s the difference between a Ford and a Dodge anyway? Right? LOL! There are a few things you need to consider when we’re talking about your panel.
Siemens breakers don’t fit in a GE breaker panel. Square D breakers don’t fit inside an Eaton panel.
So, when you talk to Michelle or Frankie to schedule your breaker repairs, troubleshoots, and upgrades, we’re going to ask that you text or email us pictures of the inside cover of your panel. That’s where we find the brand, type, and size of your panel so we can hopefully send our electrician to you with the materials he needs.
Everything we order is going to meet “industry standard,” but some brands have a better installation and maintenance record than others. So, if we’re installing a new panel, we will offer suggestions on what to use that will stand the test of time in our experience.
What Will Make This Hurt More?
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? Cost and schedule. How much will this cost? How long will we be invading your space? And how can you budget the expense?
We know that you’re not made out of money. Even if you are able to grow plants well, money trees don’t actually grow money. So, we always look for cost effective solutions. This can include swapping to a universal brand that sometimes works, using different vetted vendors, and searching for solutions that are sometimes out of the box. Trying to find spa disconnects after the fair this year was almost an extreme sporting event. When suppliers know that a particular breaker, panel, or disconnect is in high demand and short supply – like a spa breaker, for instance – then the price can double and sometimes triple.
That’s why we don’t always go with the first solution and we don’t stick with one vendor because “we have a great relationship” with them. They will sometimes come in high. To help you, we shop around and find reasonable solutions, not just the first available.
Living in Alaska, we know that getting supplies can be tough. When was the last time you received free 2-day delivery? When we’re looking for procurement solutions, we’re looking to get the best price and in a timely fashion without having to pay more for the shipping than the part is worth.
How Long Will It Take?
This is the tough question. It’s really hard to tell. We’ve been in the electrical business for a long time. With over 134 cumulative hours of electrical design, install, and management experience, we can tell you how long it will take to upgrade a panel.
What we don’t know, however, is how long it’s going to take to troubleshoot your home after the update is in place.
We’ve discovered that when we upgrade a panel to the latest electrical code, we also uncover things that hadn’t been working quite right throughout the house. We uncover shorts, crossed wires, and overloaded circuits. We figure out which devices are working well, and which might need to be upgraded or replaced.
This sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? Like, why in the world would you upgrade your panel if it could just open a can of worms inside your home?
Upgrading your panel doesn’t create problems. The newer “smart” breakers that are manufactured now simply let us know what’s already going on inside your home. In most case, it simply involves opening boxes and tightening connections.
That’s a normal thing and not something to be overly concerned with. Electricity is a moving force. I could get into the geeky awesomeness of how alternating current works which then allows connections to become lose over time, but the bottom line is that it’s not a huge worry. But we will need to invest time to troubleshoot circuits after you upgrade your panel to make sure that everything is tight and working efficiently.
You don’t have to wait for the snow to melt before calling us to help you with your electrical installation and upgrade needs. Contact us today!