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Can a Homeowner Replace an Electrical Panel?

February 01, 2024

All the electricity your home consumes runs through the electrical panel, so seeing signs that this panel needs to be replaced or upgraded can be inconvenient. If you're the thrifty type who likes to save your hard-earned money, you may be wondering whether this is a job you can tackle yourself. Can a homeowner replace an electrical panel on their own?

The short answer is yes, but it is strongly recommended to call a professional to handle an electrical project of this size. Many risks are involved in replacing an electrical panel without the proper experience or training. In this blog, we’ll go over:

  • Understanding the electrical panel
  • Reasons for panel replacement
  • The complexities and dangers of DIY panel updates

Replacing an electrical panel on your own is possible, but the stakes are very high if you make a mistake. For safety purposes, this task is really best left to the experts.

Having trouble with your electrical panel and need a professional assessment?

Contact the polite Phoenix pros at Patrick Riley | Isley's and take advantage of our extensive training and experience to get an honest view of your needs. We offer flexible scheduling to reduce the impact on your household's routine and get you through your problem quickly and effectively.

Understanding the Electrical Panel

Your electrical panel is home to all the breaker switches needed for your house, including the main breaker that allows you to shut your home's power down entirely. The breakers protect the electrical system in your home in the event of a power surge from outside or an excessive power draw from within. If they are overloaded with too much power being sent through them, they trip and shut down power for whatever section of your electrical system they control. Once the power issue is resolved, you can flip the breaker back on and restore your power.

Reasons for Panel Replacement

The most common reason to replace an electrical panel is to avoid serious electrical issues. If the breakers of the panel you have seem to be tripping frequently, the panel is showing signs of rust or is broken, it feels hot to the touch, or you smell burning, your lights flicker, or your outlets spark when you plug something in, these are signs that something is already malfunctioning. Panel replacements can also done to accommodate new appliances or if you decide you need more outlets installed.

The Complexities and Dangers of DIY Panel Updates

Attempting to change out an electrical panel on your own requires significant knowledge about the process to ensure everything is done safely and within the law.

Electrical Knowledge

Extensive electrical knowledge is needed to safely change out an electrical panel. Even someone with a basic idea of how the process works is unlikely to be an ideal candidate for the job without significant prior experience handling this kind of project. Professional electricians undergo rigorous training and often work with more experienced mentors through high-risk jobs until they can handle them alone. This is not the kind of project that should be taken on after watching a few videos online.

Permits and Inspections

Electrical panel installations are considered substantial modifications in most areas, requiring a permit before work can begin. The panel is often required to be up to date on inspections as well. In many states, a permit can't be obtained unless a licensed contractor pulls it. Once the installation is complete, an inspection will be necessary to ensure it is up to code. Without following these steps, your new panel could become a problem if you ever choose to sell your house.

Safety Risks

Working with an electrical panel requires close contact with very high voltage that can be dangerous without the right safety precautions. Simple mistakes can lead to serious consequences when working this closely with electricity at this level. Without having the experience and knowledge to know what to do if something goes wrong, you are putting yourself at risk.

Code Compliance

Electrical codes are established to ensure your electrical system is safe to operate. Panels that are not up to code are at risk of starting electrical fires or exposing you and your family to electrical shocks.

Ready for a full electrical panel replacement?

This job is best left to the experts — and who better to install and run your new electrical panel than the Patrick Riley | Isley's team? Our work always comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and we offer flexible financing options on approved credit if you find the job is bigger than your budget.

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By Ty Lindsay

Ty Lindsay is the Director of Field Operations at Patrick Riley | Isley’s and a 15-year veteran of the plumbing and HVAC trades. In 2010, Ty earned his Journeyman’s plumbing license. He became a Master Plumber five years later and earned his Journeyman HVAC technician’s license that same year. Ty’s breadth of knowledge in plumbing and HVAC includes both residential and commercial work. He’s been a loyal member of the Patrick Riley | Isley’s team since 2016.