SERVICE UPGRADE FAQ AND INFO
Here is some information regarding service upgrades, what to look for if you think something needs upgraded, what is now considered outdated, and more!
More and more homeowner insurance providers are denying claims to houses that still have fuse panels. During operation, we find that homeowner’s blow fuses and replace the blown fuse with any fuse available. This makes it impossible for the typical homeowner to know which fuse is supposed to be installed on each circuit without opening the panel and exposing themselves to live electricity. An over-fused circuit will allow the under-sized wiring in the walls and ceilings to become super heated, possibly melting and starting combustible materials like wood and insulation to catch fire. A distinct advantage of a circuit breaker is that a tripped circuit can be reset without the possibility of being replaced improperly.
Panel Replacement vs Service Upgrade
In some situations where a fuse panel or obsolete breaker panel needs to be changed out and the entire service rebuild is not necessary. The NEC (National Electrical Code) requires new residential services to be at least 100 amps. If the fuse panel or obsolete breaker panel is already 100 or 200 amps, a licensed electrician may be able to inspect the existing wiring from the utility, through the meter socket, and into the house and determine a panel change out is all that is necessary. If the existing service is below 100 amps (60 amps being the most common), the meter is located inside the home instead of outside, or the rest of the service is worn or rusted, a full service upgrade will be required. This will need a full upgrade to the most recent NEC standards.
Obsolete Circuit Breaker Panels
While being a great idea to start, early iterations of breaker panels can be just as dangerous as over-sized fuses in a fuse panel. Circuit breakers are designed to trip when the elements inside of them reach a certain temperature threshold. This is an indication that the circuit is pulling more than the safe operating amperage it was designed for. Many of the older breaker panel manufacturers did not do their due diligence testing their breakers. Federal Pacific, Zinsco, split-bus, and Pushmatic panels are considered high priority. Most of these companies are no longer in business simply because they manufactured dangerous panelboards.
One of the most common questions homeowners wanting a service upgrade ask is “Should I install a 100 amp or 200 amp service?” The right answer will most likely require speaking to a licensed electrician about the homes current and future power needs. One of the items that is easy to identify is how many 240 volt circuits are needed. Electric dryer, electric range, electric furnace, electric water heater, hot tub, and a pool can add up quickly. If your home has 3 or more of these items, or you plan to add any of these items in the future, you should consider upgrading to a 200 amp service. If all of the large appliances run off natural gas, a 100 amp service is most likely sufficient.