Replacing an outdated electrical panel in your home can seem like a daunting task, but with proper planning and safety precautions, it is possible for a motivated do-it-yourselfer to complete. As with any major electrical project, caution and attention to detail are paramount.

Reasons to Replace an Outdated Panel

There are several reasons you may want to replace an outdated electrical panel:

Evaluating Your Existing Panel

Before deciding to DIY a panel replacement, take time to thoroughly evaluate your existing setup:

If your panel has any major deficiencies, it is wise to consider an upgrade. Consult with a licensed electrician if you have any concerns about the overall safety and fitness of your existing setup.

Selecting the New Panel

Once you decide to replace the panel, selecting the proper new unit is essential:

Square D and Eaton are two reputable panel brands, available at home improvement stores for $250-500 depending on features. Select one designed for easy DIY installation.

Working Safely

Safety is paramount when working with electricity. Make sure to:

Follow all local permit and inspection requirements. Hire an electrician if you are ever uncertain about safely and properly completing the work.

Steps for Replacing the Panel

With proper planning and safety gear, you can methodically replace the outdated panel:

1. Turn Off Power and Remove Old Panel

Double check power is off at the main breaker before starting. Then remove the cover plate and unscrew the wire connections. Carefully detach the old panel but leave it hanging until the new one is wired to avoid unrestrained live wires.

2. Install New Panel

Mount the new panel as close to the old one as possible to avoid having to re-route wiring. Follow the manufacturer instructions. Make sure it is level and secure.

3. Connect Wires

Match the existing wire configurations. Securely connect the ground wires to the ground bus bar. Connect the neutral wires to the neutral bar. Attach the hot wires to their corresponding new breakers.

4. Connect Ground Rod

If the panel is ungrounded, connect a ground rod following local code requirements, typically driving an 8 foot copper rod into the earth near the main panel and securely wiring it to the ground bus.

5. Attach New Cover Plate

With all wiring complete, attach the new outer cover plate. Tighten the screws securely.

6. Power Up and Test

With connections double checked, turn the main breaker on and test operation of all circuits. Your new panel should be fully functional!

Replacing an electrical panel is a major project, but taking proper safety precautions and following good DIY practices can allow you to upgrade your outdated setup without hiring an electrician. Always get professional advice if unsure. But with adequate planning and preparation, a new modern panel can be within the abilities of many motivated do-it-yourselfers.