What Is the Cost To Replace An Electrical Panel In 2023? What You Need To Know!
It doesn’t really matter whether you live in a cottage, townhouse, or a big house: every home needs an electrical panel. Essentially, it’s a big metal box that receives electricity from the main power line and evenly distributes it throughout the house. Also known as a breaker panel or a service panel, it protects against short circuits and overloads.
However, if you live in an older house and have lots of appliances and electrical devices the stock electrical panel might be too weak to handle the load. So, how much will it cost to replace it? Or maybe you should upgrade the panel instead? Will that be cheaper? How much do these services cost in the US? And why does amperage matter? Let’s find out!
The Importance of Electrical Panels
If the electrical wires in a house are the veins, then the service panel is the heart. Without it, you won’t be able to vacuum the house, turn on a light, see what’s on the TV, or charge a phone. Most electrical panels are located on the outside; or it could be the basement or the garage. When you open the metal box, you’ll see lots of wires, the main circuit breaker, and a number of smaller breaker switches.
They are responsible for “feeding” different parts of the house. You can shut them on/off manually. Plus, the breakers automatically trip (shut off) when the electrical current is too high and might cause an overload. So, when one of the breakers is faulty, that can instantly lead to a disaster. That’s exactly why it’s so important for the electrical panel to run like clockwork.
How Much Does a Professional Electrical Panel Replacement Cost?
If you recently bought power-hungry appliances or, let’s say, upgraded the cooling or the heating system, most likely, the service panel needs to be replaced or upgraded. Now, the average cost for an electrical panel replacement in the US is $1,500–$4,000. Most households in America are paying $800–$2,500 for it.
The actual price is dictated by the area, the complexity of the work, and the amperage. For example, if you want to upgrade to a 100-amp breaker panel, the electrician will only charge you $800. In contrast, for a huge house that heavily relies on electricity, a 400-amp panel is a must. That can cost as much as $10,000.
Remember: upgrading an electrical box is always cheaper than replacing it completely.Here’s a quick breakdown of the current rates:
- The average cost in the US: $800–$2,500
- The average range for a replacement/upgrade: $1,500–$4,000
- Low-end (upgrade) cost: $800
- High-end (replacement) cost: $4,000–$10,000
- The average cost of an upgrade (labor included): $800–$4,000
- The average cost of a replacement (labor included): $1,200–$4,500
To get quotes for a replacement or upgrade in your house, get in contact with an electrician. Or use a specialized website where you can enter your city’s zip code and compare prices from local contractors. These estimates will be 100% free.
Electrical Panel Replacement Cost by Location
Zip codes are the fastest and most accurate way of getting a quote on how much the service will cost you. With that said, here’s how much they charge in different parts of the country:
- The East Coast: $2,000–$4,000
- The North Coast: $1,800–$3,700
- Midwest US: $1,700–$3,500
- South-Atlantic States: $1,700–$3,200
- The West Coast: $1,500–$3,300
Again, get estimates from local electricians, as the prices also vary depending on the state, the city, and even the time of the year.
Electrical Panel Upgrade Cost by Amperage
Alright, with the national averages out of the way, let us focus on how much electricians charge for service panel upgrades. Older houses have small panels that operate at 80 amps and fail at meeting the needs of a modern-day family. If that’s your case, upgrading it is the best option on the table. What’s the right amperage, though? Here’s a detailed look:
- 60/80 to 100 Amps (the minimum for a household): $800–$1,200
- 100 to 150 Amps: (for a house with many appliances): $1,000–$1,500
- 100 to 200 Amps: (extra garages and “hungry” appliances): $1,300–$3,000
- 200 to 300 Amps: (tubs, big fridges, and a workshop): $1,700–$3,500
- 200 to 400 Amps: (an “overkill” for the average household): $4,000–$8,000
Electrical Panel Replacement Cost by Amperage
Why would you want to replace the panel instead of upgrading it? The most common reason: it already operates at maximum capacity. Or it’s a rather old panel and doesn’t meet local code standards. Here’s how much you can expect to pay for a complete replacement (labor costs included):
- 100 Amps: (a popular choice for older homes with rusty panels): $1,200–$2,500 ($100–$200 for the breaker box)
- 125 Amps: (not that common in US houses): $1,600–$2,600 ($160–$250 for the box)
- 150 Amps: (a go-to choice when an upgrade is not an option): $1,800–$2,900 ($180–$400 for the box)
- 200 Amps: (a golden standard for 2K+ sq. ft. houses): $2,500–$4,600 ($230–$800 for the box)
- 400 Amps: (for expensive and energy-consuming equipment): $4,000–$10,000 ($500–$1,600 for the boxes)
A quick note about the 400-amp option: first, it’s a very rare setup in the US. Second, for this to work, you’ll need a pair of 200-amp panels. Plus, the wiring and the meter base will have to be replaced as well. That’s why it’s so expensive.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Various Components?
Check out the estimates for replacing different parts of a service panel:
- Breaker Switch replacement: $200–$250
- Main Breaker replacement: $200–$350
- Meter Box replacement: $400–$650
Additional Costs to Anticipate
Last, but not least, here are some additional costs that you can expect. These include inspections, wire repairs, panel removal, and more. Here’s the full list:
- Thorough electrical panel inspection: $75–$125
- Fuse box replacement (with a service panel): $1,500–$4,000
- Breaker panel relocation: $800–$2,500
- Electrical panel rewiring: $500–$5,000
- Wiring repairs (if they’re old and worn-out): $1,000–$1,500 ($6–$9 per linear foot)
- Subpanel installation (if you have a workshop): $150–$450
- Factory service panel removal: $50–$150
- Grounding (copper): $200–$1,000 ($1.25–$1.50 per linear foot)
How Much Do the Electricians Charge?
On average, it takes a licensed electrician 8–10 hours to replace a service panel. They charge $40–$80 per hour, depending on the complexity of the job. If the project involves some of the additional services that we just discussed (moving the panel, replacing the wires, and grounding), expect to pay more.
How Often Should I Get the Electrical Panel Replaced?
Service panels last for 25–40 years. So, if you live in a really old house, take a moment to examine the electrical panel. Do you see any burn marks? Maybe you smell burning plastic when standing right next to the box? Crackling sounds can also signal that it’s time for a replacement. If you notice any of these signs, have an electrician over.
An experienced specialist will check the box thoroughly and tell you whether it’s time for a replacement/upgrade, or not.
How Do I Know That the Service Panel is Malfunctioning?
But what if there are no odors or any visual signs of damage? How do you know that a replacement is in order? Here are the most common signs of a faulty/weak service panel:
- Dimming lights. If the lights are frequently flickering/dimming, that means the electrical panel is to blame.
- A tingling sensation. Do you get that light shock sensation when grabbing an appliance? This is another common side effect of a bad breaker panel.
- The panel is very warm. Go ahead and touch the box. Is it hot? In contrast to electrical bulbs, service panels should NOT be warm, as that may lead to a fire.
- The breaker(s) trip all the time. The #1 job of a circuit breaker is to prevent overloads. However, when they shut off frequently, that calls for an urgent replacement.
- Plugging in an appliance causes a breaker to trip. This can be a dishwasher, hairdryer, washing machine, or even a TV or gaming console. If you notice a pattern, have the electrical panel checked.
Think of a service panel as the guardian that protects against spikes, overloads, and (in the worst case scenario) a fire in your house. While it’s not particularly cheap to replace or upgrade an electrical panel, safety should always come first. If your breaker box is old and weak, that’s a disaster waiting to happen. So, in the long run, this will be money well spent, both in terms of safety and functionality.
The cost for an electrical panel replacement varies greatly depending on the amperage and the complexity of the project, with electricians charging around ten times more for the labor. On the bright side, once installed, a brand-new service panel will serve for many decades, which makes it an even more reasonable investment!
Featured Image Credit: caifas, Shutterstock