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How to: Prepare for an Electric Service Upgrade

We can all agree that having a light that flickers every time you run the dryer is spooky and unpleasant. However, you might not know why it does that. Many older homes were built to support that lightbulb in the washing room, but not the washer and dryer. Most of these homes only allow 50-100 amps of electricity to flow in to the house’s electrical system. Homes with modern electrical systems, like electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and dishwashers, need more. If you have this problem in the West Michigan area, we are ready to fix it with an electric service upgrade.

Needing to upgrade an old home isn’t the only reason a service upgrade might be the right move. These are good steps to take whenever you look to add something with a heavy electrical burden to your home. These kinds of things include an EV charging station, a spa or sauna, a high-power computer, or air conditioning. A service upgrade is also a great option for houses already undergoing a remodel. While the home is under construction, it is easier to perform the upgrade, allowing the new-look home to support more electrical capabilities.

Here are some frequently asked questions about a service upgrade:

Is upgrading the electrical panel the same thing as rewiring a house?

No. Rewiring a house is a much bigger project. Rewiring may include knocking down walls or rearranging plumbing. Upgrading the panel doesn’t even involve any of the interior of the house! Both fall under the umbrella of electrical service upgrade, but they are very different operations.

How many amps will my house be able to handle after an upgrade?

In most circumstances, your house will have a 200 amp panel installed. 200 amps is enough to handle a modern electrical load for a house.

Can a service upgrade affect my homeowners insurance?

Good news! Yes, it can make home insurance cheaper. Risk of electrical failure or fire is lower when service is upgraded. This lower risk can lead to lower rates! This is one of several ways that a service upgrade could actually save you money in the long term.

How do I know I need a service upgrade?

There are a few tell-tale signs of a home in need of an electric service upgrade:

  1. Burning Smell or Discolored Outlets: Overloaded electrical systems get dangerously hot. This heat can produce a burning smell wherever the wires are overheated. The heat can even turn the outlets near the source a darker shade of brown. These signs are indicators of an electrical system turned dangerous. Give us a call to assess the situation right away.

  2. Multiple Power Strips: There is a reason your house has the number of electrical outlets that it does. If you find yourself trying to turn most of your outlets into six or more plugs, you are most likely burdening your system past what it is designed to handle.

  3. Constantly Tripping Breakers: This one is rather obvious. Circuit breakers’ purpose is to shut off circuits that get overloaded. If that keeps happening, the issue is systemic. This is the easiest sign to discover that an electrical service upgrade is the decision to make.

  4. Flickering Lights: When lights begin to flicker as high-draw appliances turn on, a light should go off in your head. This is a sign that the appliances have drawn more electricity than the system can provide. Electrical service upgrades allow the lights to stay running strong.

So you are ready to get the service upgrade work started. What can you expect when we start working on your house? First, we will talk with you to determine what size the new panel will be and whether or not new circuits are needed. We will then obtain a permit to perform the service. We will start by working with you to power down the house. With no running electricity in the house, we will install or upgrade the ground system underneath the panel. We will then change out the old panel for the new panel, hooking up to the existing wiring. If we are adding circuits or rewiring any portion of the house, we will complete that work before finishing up. After the job is complete and inspected, we will power the house back up. Goodbye, flickering lights, tripped circuits, and burning smells! Hello, EV charging stations and new dishwashers.

This kind of project would usually cost between $500 and $2,000, but it depends significantly on the specific parameters of each job. Here is a great tool from HomeAdvisor to determine how much this might cost for you. We can give you a quote directly from our team as well so that you know exactly what you are getting into.

We are typically available to schedule your service upgrade within 2-3 weeks. When we get on site, completing the upgrade typically takes less than a full work day. On both fronts, we will ensure that we act as quickly as we can to serve you. We hope you don’t notice any of these danger signs. However, if you do, we can take the action necessary to keep your house safe or increase its electrical capability. Get in touch with us to learn more!



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