A home’s electrical panel is arguably one of the most important parts of its electrical system. It’s designed to regulate the flow of electricity through the home to ensure safety and efficiency. If there’s something wrong with the electrical panel, it can spell trouble for not just the home’s appliances and electronics, but also its residents.
How Electrical Panels Work
Electricity is piped into modern homes through the main power line, which connects to a power meter found on the building’s exterior. From the power meter, the main power line goes directly into the home’s electrical panel, which can usually be found in a garage, closet, utility room, or basement.
The electrical panel is composed of several rows of switches, known as circuit breakers. Circuit breakers distribute power from the main power line to branch lines found throughout the home. Each of them is labeled with a number, which corresponds to the locations of the outlets and appliances found on each branch line. It’s common to see some switches doubled, or even tripled, to accommodate the greater electrical needs of large appliances like dryers and air conditioning units.
Meeting the Ever-Increasing Power Needs of Modern Families
Despite the improvements in energy efficiency that have been made over the past few decades, today’s households use more electricity than ever. Modern families rely on electricity not just to power lights and basic appliances, but everything from smart TVs to multiple cell phones, laptops, and other personal devices. Residential buildings equipped with smart home technologies draw even more power.
The problem is, outdated electrical panels weren’t designed to meet those levels of power consumption. When homeowners try to install new appliances, they may begin to notice frequent circuit breaker trips or, worse, failed circuit breaker trips that can lead to electrical shocks, melted wires, and other potentially serious safety risks.
Signs It’s Time for an Upgrade
Electrical Panel Upgrades may be required to bring older houses up-to-speed. The only way to tell for sure if the panel needs to be upgraded is to schedule a professional inspection. However, there are plenty of warning signs that homeowners can look out for to determine whether calling in a pro is really necessary. Keep an eye out for:
- Flickering lights
- Overheating conductors
- Two-pronged power outlets
- Appliances that won’t run at full power
- Frequently tripped circuit breakers
- Corrosion or rust on the circuit breakers
- Crackling sounds coming from the electrical panel
- Heat produced by the electrical panel
- Excessive extension cord use
- 60-amp or 100-amp electrical service
- Non-GFCI outlets near water sources
Even if none of these problems are evident, homeowners in Romeo, Michigan should consider upgrading their electrical panels if they are more than 25 years old. If the home still has a fuse block or split-bus panel, leaving it in place and making due is not an option. These older types of panels don’t have main breakers, which makes them a safety hazard in modern homes.
Modern electrical panels are built to higher safety standards. Some of the older models have serious defects due to poor design. Homeowners who have any of the following panels installed in their houses should have them replaced as soon as possible.
Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Electrical Panels
These panels were installed in homes built or renovated between 1950 and 1980. They’re known to have both manufacturing and design defects that place residents at greater risk of receiving electrical shocks and homes at greater risk of suffering fire damage.
Zinsco Electrical Panels
Zinsco panels were taken off the market in the 1970s, but they can still be found in some modern homes. There are several safety issues associated with their defective design, including power flow to the breakers even when they are switched off. They also pose fire and shock hazards, so replace them immediately.
Pushmatic Electrical Panel
Pushmatic panels have no main breaker switch. This switch is supposed to stop all power flow into the panel and is an important safety feature. Pushmatic panels also have weak breaker switches. They should be upgraded as soon as possible.
The Bottom Line
Not sure if the home needs an electrical panel upgrade? The best thing to do is to call a Professional Electrician. Metro Electric of Michigan employs only the top-rated local electricians and strives to ensure that all its employees are kept up-to-date on industry standards and code compliance. Homeowners can give them a call at (586) 336-9121 to ask questions, discuss their options, or schedule an inspection to get their panel upgrades started.
If you are not 100% satisfied with the service we have provided, we will refund all of your money. If a repair fails in the first year, we will repair it again absolutely free. If any equipment or fixture fails during normal use in the first year, we will either repair or replace the item at no charge to you.