Upgrading Your Panel: When to Call an Electrician

If you've noticed issues like frequent tripped circuit breakers, dimming lights, or buzzing and crackling from outlets, it may be time to upgrade your home's electrical panel. Upgrading a panel is not a simple DIY project - it requires the expertise of a licensed electrician to do it safely and correctly. Here's what you need to know about when to call a professional to upgrade your electrical panel.

Signs You Need a Panel Upgrade

Your home's electrical panel is the central hub that connects the incoming power from the utility lines to the outlets and fixtures in your house. Here are some common signs that your panel may be outdated or insufficient for your home's current electrical needs:

Frequent Tripped Breakers

If you find yourself constantly resetting tripped circuit breakers, it likely means you are overloading the circuits. Upgrading to a larger capacity panel with more circuits can help reduce nuisance tripping.

Buzzing/Crackling Noises from Outlets

Strange buzzing, sizzling or crackling noises coming from your outlets or switches can indicate a serious problem like an arc fault or overloaded wires. This safety hazard should be addressed immediately by an electrician.

Dimming Lights

Lights dimming or flickering when other devices turn on is a symptom of insufficient power delivery. This points to the need for a panel upgrade to increase capacity.

GFCIs Tripping Frequently

If the ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in your home trip frequently under normal conditions, it may mean your electrical load exceeds the panel's rating.

Adding High-Draw Appliances

Major appliances like EV chargers, high-capacity air conditioners, or pool heaters can overwhelm an outdated panel. Upgrading now can support the addition of those devices.

Planning a Remodel

Any major home addition or remodel will likely require running new wiring. This is the ideal time to upgrade your panel to meet the increased electrical demands.

When to Call an Electrician

Electrical panels contain dangerous high-voltage wiring and require expertise to install or replace safely. Only a licensed electrician has the training for this specialized work. Here are some key times to call in a pro:

Initial Consultation

An electrician can inspect your panel, evaluate your home's electrical needs, and advise you on the best option whether it's repair, replacement or upgrading amperage. They can pull the proper permits for the work.


Let the electrician handle the physical installation of a new panel according to local building codes. This includes safely disconnecting and reconnecting all the circuit wiring. Improper connections can cause fires or electrocution down the line.

Breaker Box Repairs

Attempting to repair issues in your breaker box like damaged breakers or faulty wiring yourself risks electrocution. Safer to have an electrician troubleshoot and fix any problems.

Adding New Circuits

For any major additions like new wiring for an EV charger, pool heater or outbuilding, hire an electrician to size and run the new circuit from the panel.

Emergency Electrical Issues

If you experience any sparks, smoking, burning smells or power failures related to your electrical panel, shut off the main breaker and call an emergency electrician immediately.

How Much Does a Panel Upgrade Cost?

The cost to upgrade your home's electrical panel can range from $1,200-$4,000 on average depending on the scope of the upgrade. The major cost factors include:

Be sure to get quotes from multiple electricians to find the best deal. Make sure they are properly licensed, bonded and insured.

Electrical Panel Replacement Process

Replacing an electrical panel is a complicated job best left to a trained professional. Here is a general overview of the steps involved:

The process causes power outages, so the electrician should coordinate timing appropriately with homeowners. Call in sick to work that day if needed.

Ensure Electrical Safety with a Panel Upgrade

Upgrading your home's electrical panel provides major benefits like:

Don't put off a needed panel upgrade - the small investment of hiring a professional electrician provides major returns in safety and convenience for your most critical home systems.