How to Safely Replace Electrical Panels in Older Homes

How to Safely Replace Electrical Panels in Older Homes


Replacing an electrical panel in an older home can be a daunting task, but with proper planning and precautions, it can be done safely. As the homeowner, you need to educate yourself on electrical systems and safety before taking on this project. An outdated or overloaded electrical panel can present serious fire and electrocution hazards, so replacing it is an important upgrade for many older homes. This guide will walk you through the key steps to replace an electrical panel safely in an older home.

Reasons to Replace an Old Electrical Panel

There are several reasons you may need to replace the electrical panel in an older home:

Dangers of DIY Electrical Work

While replacing a panel may seem like a DIY project, it requires experience working with electrical systems to be done safely. You should never attempt panel replacement yourself unless you are a licensed electrician. Dangers include:

Due to these severe risks, always hire a licensed electrician when replacing an electrical panel unless you have substantial professional electrical experience.

Choosing a Licensed Electrician

When selecting an electrician to replace your electrical panel, make sure they are properly licensed, insured, and experienced with panel installations. Specific things to look for include:

You should get written estimates from multiple licensed electricians before hiring one. Avoid choosing based on price alone.

Steps for Safely Replacing an Electrical Panel

Once you've hired an experienced, licensed electrician, the key steps involved in safely replacing an outdated electrical panel include:

1. Turn Off Electrical Power

The electrician will locate the main breaker box and shut off power to the entire home. Locking shutoff tags should be placed to prevent accidental re-activation of power during the replacement process.

2. Remove Old Electrical Panel

Next, the existing panel is disconnected from all wiring and removed from the wall. This requires working inside the breaker box, so only trained electricians should perform this step.

3. Install New Panel

The new upgraded panel is secured in place on the wall. It must be installed to meet minimum code requirements for clearance space around it. Proper mounting is vital for safety.

4. Connect Wiring to New Panel

All the home's electrical wires are detached from the old panel and reconnected to the new one. The electrician confirms appropriate connections.

5. Connect Grounding and Bonding

Grounding and bonding connections are made to meet code requirements. This provides shock protection.

6. Attach Breakers and Labels

New circuit breakers are installed and everything is clearly labeled so circuits are identifiable. Breakers must match circuit capacity.

7. Verify Proper Functionality

With the new panel fully installed, the system is tested thoroughly. Breakers are tripped manually to confirm proper operation.

8. Restore Electrical Power

Once operation is confirmed, the main breaker can be turned back on to restore power. The electrician will check outlets and lights.

Safety Tips During the Panel Replacement Process

For maximum safety when upgrading an electrical panel, keep these tips in mind:

Replacing an outdated electrical panel improves home safety, but the process requires great care. With a skilled electrician and proper precautions, this project can be completed successfully. Always prioritize safety during panel upgrades.

Costs of Electrical Panel Replacement

Replacing an electrical panel is a significant investment for a homeowner. On average, you can expect to pay:

The specific costs for your home will depend on:

Additional costs may apply if your home's wiring also needs upgrades to support a new modern panel. Get quotes from multiple electricians before committing to the project.

While not cheap, a new electrical panel adds tremendous safety, value, and peace of mind. The investment is well worth it for most homeowners.


Replacing an outdated electrical panel brings an older home up to modern safety standards. While hazardous as a DIY project, having a licensed electrician install a new panel prevents fires and electrocution risks. Careful planning and preparation are needed to safely upgrade panels in older homes. With the right electrician and proper precautions during the replacement process, this project can significantly improve electrical safety for your home and family.