Service Panel Upgrading

Old main panels have limitations on available space to add circuits or they have fuses (some insurance carriers will not insure a property that has fuses). Some old panels have had circuits added and have maxed out (most old panels are maxed out when the original construction was completed). Many old panels are of inferior quality and simply stop working and need to be replaced.

An electric service upgrade is often recommended or required to increase the capacity of the existing electrical service. With all the new appliances and technical devices we now have in our homes, we find that older homes just don’t have sufficient power available to handle the increased demand. Therefore, a “service change” is required. This may include not only upgrading your electric panel, but upgrading your meter socket, the wire between the meter and panel, the wire between the utility and the meter and the grounding system as well. A panel upgrade or replacement is usually required to alleviate a problem with the existing panel. Sometimes a breaker might overheat to the point that the buss bar in a panel gets burned. The conductors between the meter and panel may become loose and burn out the main lugs, especially common when aluminium conductors were used. Other common reasons to change out an existing panel are due to obsolescence and outdated technology. Split-buss panels, cheap builder-grade panels, panels contaminated by water, paint and corrosive environments are often candidates for replacement. Panels long ago manufactured by Zinsco and FPE have many issues and are considered a hazard by many in the industry.

The professional’s electricians at BMR Electric only use the highest quality panels (load centers) manufactured by Federal, Square D or Cutler Hammer for your panel change out or upgrade. Every panel that we install has a 1year warranty on the equipment. but typically these panels should last up to 30-40 years without any problems. The bottom line is we make sure the heart of your electrical system, the electrical panel, will be trouble free for years and years to come.

Why Upgrade From a Fuse Panel?

Insurance companies usually get uptight when they find out the home has a fuse panel and recommend that the panel be changed to a breaker panel system. Everyone is familiar with the old screw in fuses. And for those that have a fuse panel know that if the 15 amp fuse keeps blowing you can screw in a 20 amp, 25 amp, 30 amp fuse till the fuse stops blowing.

This is where the problem lies. The fuses are rated for the wire it is protecting. Our standard lights and receptacles work off a 14 gauge wire. The wire is rated to carry a maximum of 15 amps. So when we plug in too many devices on one circuit the fuse becomes overheated and ‘blows’. By using a larger fuse we may stop the problem of the fuse blowing all the time but the wire is rated to carry only 15 amps. Now that we’re used a larger fuse the wire becomes overheated, as it is working beyond capacity. These overheated wires are running through wood studs in the walls. The potential for fire now exists.

This is why the insurance companies would like the panel changed over from fuses to breakers. They know that the home will be much safer with a new breaker panel than the old fuse panel. Our electricians have changed over many old fuse panels that were in great shape for this very reason. There is nothing wrong with the panel. It’s human error where the problem lies.

Where is the electrical panel in my home?

Electrical panels can be identified as a painted or gray metal box. They are typically mounted on the wall of your home in an easily accessible area such as a utility room, laundry room, garage, basement, or closet. However if you can’t find the electrical panel inside your home, it may be located outside.

Old electrical panels can result in a myriad of problems, including:

  • Flickering lights.
  • Breakers that constantly trip or fuses that frequently blow.
  • The need to turn off one appliance to use another.
  • Melted electrical wires.
  • Defective circuit breakers that fail to trip, resulting in shocks, overheating, and fire.
  • In short, old electrical panels result in danger to your family and property resulting from fire and electrical shock.

Is your home showing signs it is in need of a new electrical panel?

  • Crackling sounds from your panel box.
  • Corrosion or rust on the breakers or panel.
  • Overheating electrical service conductors.
  • Appliances running at less than full power.
  • Two pronged (non-grounded) outlets.
  • Your home is not equipped with GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) in necessary areas.
  • You find yourself frequently seeking extension cords.
  • You need surge protectors to protect the appliances in your home.
  • Your home was built with, and still runs on, a 60 amp electrical service.
  • Your home uses a fuse block panel or split-buss panel (electrical panel with no main breaker).
  • The 100 amp electrical service in your home is insufficient for operating necessary appliances.

Other reasons you should consider a new electrical panel:

  • The renovation of your home, particularly the kitchen, which is appliance-heavy.
  • You are adding a home addition.
  • The addition of a major appliance, such as central heating and air, stoves, spas, garage power equipment, and more.
  • You need/are adding outlets to your home.
  • To meet homeowners insurance requirements.
  • You’re in need of a 240 volt circuit.
  • You need to add a sub panel.

Just because you’re not living in a turn-of-the-century home doesn’t mean your panel is safe…

Today’s new electrical panels are well-designed and safe, however homes with panels installed as recently as the 1980s may contain components now known to have deteriorated, becoming unsafe with age and posing safety issues. If you home uses any of these components, have a new electrical panel installed immediately:

In Canada, the Federal Pacific Electric FPE Stab-Lok® electrical panel and circuit breaker line was sold under the brand name Federal Pioneer or FP or FP Stab-Lok® .

Recent data about the performance and hazards of Canadian-made Federal Pioneer equipment newer than 1997 is lacking though there has been a Canadian product recall and a hazard warning for older equipment. In U.S.-made Federal Pacific Electric components, we recommend against replacing individual FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breakers – there is no evidence that doing so will improve the safety of the electrical system.

We recommend that any U.S. FPE Stab-Lok® panel and older Canadian FP equipment be replaced entirely.

Fuse Box

Far older than any of the above panel types, fuse boxes are only designed to handle 30-60 amps of power, however today’s appliances require 100-200 amps of power or more. Not simply inconvenient, their well-outdated technology poses a huge fire and electrocution safety risk.

Contact BMR Electric today for an electrical inspection of your older home. Our professionals can help you prevent electrical emergencies, protecting your family and property, by determining the need for a new electrical panel in your home.

Why do you need a main panel?

An electrical system needs a main panel to break up the power supply of 100 amps or larger down to branch circuits. Branch circuit requirements start at 15 amps and can go as large as required by the specific item and voltage.

What is a main electrical service and panel?

The main panel is where the primary power source is distributed to the branch circuits throughout the house or building.


What is involved in a main panel upgrade?

BMR Electric will file all of the appropriate paperwork with the local city department and Nova Scotia Power prior to the upgrade. We will handle all required city administration and scheduling. The power will be disconnected while the work is being completed and will be restored once the job is complete. In most cases we can complete the service/panel upgrade with minimal disruption to the incoming power.

Our Services Include:

  • Service Upgrades
  • Meter Base Repairs
  • Meter Base Replacements
  • Service Mast Repairs
  • Replace Weather Head
  • New Grounding Systems
  • Whole House Surge Protection Devices
  • Label Household Circuits on Existing Panels
  • Sub Panels

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