For people who live in older homes, your current circuit breaker might not be strong enough to meet all of your electrical needs, or maybe you’re planning on rewiring your home and your current setup won’t be sufficient. If so, you might need to replace or upgrade your setup, and this can lead you to wonder what the cost to replace electrical panel is. Many older panels pose a fire risk, and the increased stain on the panel can overload your system if you’re not careful.
There are several ways to replace or upgrade your current panel, and this leads to a broad cost to replace electrical panel range. On average, you can expect to spend between $1,500 to $4,000 to completely replace the panel. For a full installation and inspection, the cost lands right around $2,000. If you get a low-amp subpanel, the cost to replace electrical panel is between $500 and $1,000. A 200-amp panel upgrade is more expensive at $4,000. The amperage, type of home, and the number of needed circuits will all play into the total cost to replace electrical panel.
Since this can be such a broad range, it’s hard to define exactly how much your cost to replace electrical panel is. Homes are also much more energy-efficient than they ever have been, and this makes it even more challenging to get an accurate estimate. However, we’re going to break it all down for you to ensure you get a good idea of the final costs of your project below.
Many people think that the cost to replace electrical panels is very high, and this means they put off this very necessary repair. You may be surprised at how affordable it is, and this is why you should call a few companies and ask for estimates. MPPT Controller and Electrical Panel by Venture Minimalists / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Cost to Replace Electrical Panel Components
One of the most common projects that involves wiring in your home is replacing an electrical panel or circuit breaker. There are several reasons why you’d choose to replace your electrical panel. Maybe you have a fire risk because you overload it or you have burn marks on your current panel.
Changing electrical needs can also trigger the need for a new panel. It’s possible to upgrade the panel when you replace it without driving your cost to replace electrical panel up. The location, amperage, and the make and model will all influence the price. There are also other pieces of the circuit breaker that you could need to replace, and this can influence your costs.
Circuit Breaker Switch Cost
The circuit breaker is the part of the panel that keeps power moving. They come designed to trip and break the electrical current if there is a problem, and this will cut the power on that particular circuit. For parts and labor, you should expect to add $150 to $250 to the cost to replace electric panel. If the switch is in a hard-to-reach location, it’ll drive the cost closer to the $250 range.
Electrical Meter Box Cost
The electrical meter box is the part of the whole panel that gets installed on your home’s exterior. This box will encase your electrical meter, and it’s usually lockable to prevent tampering. It’s also weathertight to stop any rain, sleet, or moisture from getting inside and damaging the meter itself. A new meter box will increase your cost to replace electrical panel costs by $500 to $700. However, this includes parts and labor.
Main Breaker Cost
If you want to shut off power to the entire home at one time, you’d flip the main breaker switch. This is a very important component to your panel, but it’s also pretty inexpensive when you consider the entire cost of the project. You should expect to spend between $200 and $300 to replace this main breaker switch if it doesn’t work as it should.
Replace Your Electrical Panel Cost by Amperage
There are several options that impact your cost to replace electrical panel. They come with and without the box, and you can pick from several sizes. This allows you to have room to add additional circuits if you need it. For the panel alone, your prices will vary based on amperage.
- 100 Amps – $100 to $200
- 125 Amps – $115 to $250
- 150 Amps – $150 to $300
- 200 Amps – $300 to $400
- 400 Amps – $400 to $800
Upgrading Your Electrical Panel – Cost Breakdown
It’s common for older homes to have panels that are far too small for their electrical needs. Maybe you remodel your kitchen and your new appliances aren’t running in peak condition, or you notice your lights flickering. This could mean that it’s time to upgrade your existing setup, and you have to think seriously over your cost to replace electrical panel.
If you decide to upgrade from a 100-amp panel to a 150-amp panel, this could give you plenty of power with room to grow. Upgrading to a 200-amp panel will give you enough power to add a new garage, addition, or appliances without stressing your system. There are several amperages you can choose from, and each one will impact your costs.
One of the first things you have to decide is the panel amp you want to upgrade to because this will heavily influence the cost to replace electrical panel. Electrical Panel by Chris Campbell / CC BY-NC 2.0
Upgrade to a 100-Amp Panel
For older homes, it’s not unusual to have a 60 or 80-amp panel. To meet your current electrical needs, you could consider upgrading to 100-amps, but this is widely considered to be the minimum amount most households safely need. It’s possible to upgrade from your 60 or 80-amp panel to a 100-amp panel by adding a subpanel. This will provide you extra amps. However, you can replace the panel in the existing box if the box can accommodate the size. To upgrade to a 100-amp panel, you’ll spend between $800 and $1,200. The box you currently have and the location will factor into the cost to replace electrical panel here.
Upgrade to a 150-Amp Panel
If you choose to upgrade to 150-amps, this will give you home enough room and space to grow in terms of your electrical usage. If your home has a lot of power strips or a lot of appliances, a 150-amp panel is a solid choice. You could potentially use a subpanel to upgrade your current setup to 150-amps. If you want to replace it, you’ll add an average of $1,100 to $1,500 to the cost to replace electrical panel budget.
Upgrade to a 200-Amp Panel
Anyone who wants flexibility with their electrical needs should upgrade to 200-amps. If you built an extension or addition, have a larger property, a lot of appliances, or garages, this is a good pick. It allows your circuit breaker to handle high-energy loads without tripping, and your current setup will dictate the cost to replace electrical panel. On average, it runs between $1,300 and $1,500.
Upgrade to a 400-Amp Panel
Upgrading to a 400-amp panel is rare for most homes unless you run a large amount of speciality equipment and electronics that will pull a lot of electricity. This type of panel can handle an enormous amount of electricity, and it’s often far larger than most homes need. This is why the cost to replace electrical panel with a 400-amp panel can cost between $2,000 and $4,000 on average. You should really talk to a professional and decide if you really need this much power. Chances are, they’ll say no, and this can save you money.
Your labor costs are going to be one of the most expensive factors to consider when you’re thinking about your cost to replace electrical panel, but you don’t want to skimp on it because it can result in fines. Electrician_23 by IFA teched / CC BY 2.0
Your labor costs can play a huge role in the total cost to replace electrical panel, and this is where the bulk of your expenses will come from. It usually takes between 8 and 10 hours to finish the project, and this is if everything goes smoothly. On average, electricians charge between $40 to $100 an hour for labor at a minimum.
The first hour alone can cost between $75 and $120 as this is when the electrician will come to your home, locate the box, and see if there are any problems that will make it difficult to install it and drive your cost to replace electrical panel up. Additionally, the project can easily stretch out into several days if they find that they have to upgrade your wiring. Depending on the job, it’s not uncommon to spend between $400 and $3,000 in labor costs alone.
Replace a Fuse Box with a Circuit Breaker Panel
Fuse boxes were very popular until the 1960s. They performed the same function as a circuit panel did, but they used small fuses inside a filament. A breaker will trip if it gets overloaded, but a fuse will blow. This means that the filament breaks and melts, and this will interrupt the flow of energy through the panel. Most fuse boxes still function very well, but you can’t upgrade them without replacing the entire unit.
This is why the cost to replace electrical panel is more expensive if this is your situation. You’ll have to replace your old fuse box with a circuit panel, and this costs between $1,000 and $4,000. The total cost will depend on your amperage.
Installing a New Breaker Box or Sub Panel Costs
Your installation costs for your sub panel ranges from $500 to $1,000. A 40-amp sub-panel is right around $450 with everything installed, and a 50-amp sub-panel is $490. This sub-panel is smaller in design, and it usually supplies electricity to a small building or garage.
However, the cost for this sub panel is much lower than you’d pay to install a new electrical panel because it has fewer wires and it’s much smaller. This is a good solution if you increase your electrical needs by adding on a room or finishing your basement. Instead of packing more circuit breakers into your main electrical panel, installing a sub-panel is something to think about.
Price for Moving an Electrical Panel
If your electrical panel is difficult to access or it is in a place where you can’t expand it, you could have to move it. Regulations or codes could also dictate the need to move the panel to ensure you stay in compliance with your local office. These are cases where you may have to consider moving your electrical panel, so it’s a good idea to add it into your budget for the cost to replace electrical panel and get it all over at one time.
Moving your electrical panel can take a few days to complete. The project cost will range depending on how far you have to move it, whether you plan to replace or upgrade the panel at the same time as moving it, and the amperage. Costs start right around $1,000. However, they can easily hit $4,000 if the electrician has to perform rewiring to help accommodate the new panel’s placement.
Choosing Between an Indoor or Outdoor Electrical Box
Many older electrical panels are inside, but many people are switching them to outside models because they’re easier to access, and this can reduce your overall labor costs and project time. Odd electrical panel by Tony Biondo / CC BY-SA 2.0
No matter if you decide to install your electrical box indoors or outdoors, you’ll spend around the same amount of money. It can range from $500 to $4,000, and the amperage will play a large role. Traditionally, the electrical box attaches to the side of your home outside to allow electricity to enter and give you easy access if you have an emergency. You’ll usually find it right alongside your electrical meter.
Where this box goes depends on the National Electric Codes, and the National Fire Protection Association produces these guidelines. The guidelines impact building codes all around the United States because following these safety measures reduces your risk of a fire.
AFCI or GFCI Breakers and Their Costs
Did you know that AFCI and GFCI breakers cost almost five times more than standard trip breakers? You’ll spend between $20 to $100 each, and this doesn’t count your labor costs. The labor costs to install these types of breakers ranges from $130 to $180. You can also get dual-function circuit breakers installed for around the same price point.
- AFCI – Short for Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter, this circuit breaker will detect heat that occurs when the electricity arcs. Arcing is common with frayed or chewed wires when the plugged in appliance starts to overheat. This breaker replaces your traditional one on the panel. It can get rid of some fire threats, and they’re required in dens, bedrooms, laundry areas, the kitchen, and wherever people sleep.
- GFCI – You’ll have to have Ground Fault Connection Interrupters installed whenever there is water or damp conditions around it. This is what shuts down the electrical currents if the water gets too close to prevent fires by interrupting any currents that flow along the wrong path. Use it in laundry rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, wet bars, crawl spaces, exterior outlets, or spa and pool areas.
Improvement or Enhancement Prices
Along with the main costs, there are minor improvement and enhancement costs that you want to consider when you’re trying to figure out the cost to replace electrical panel. Knowing these smaller miscellaneous costs will give you a better idea on whether or not this is in your budget.
- Copper Grounding – You have to have your panel grounded to keep it safe, and most electricians do this through a type of wire. Copper is the most common type of grounding wire used, and it’ll cost around $1.50 per linear foot.
- Permits – Before anyone can work on your panel, you’ll need the necessary permit. The permit costs start around $25, but they can easily top $150. Ask your electrician if the permit costs are in their labor estimate.
- Repairing Existing Wiring – If you have an older electrical panel, your wiring may be shot. The electrician will have to replace or repair it, and it’ll cost between $6.00 and $8.00 per linear foot.
- Removing the Old Panel – Before your electrician can install new panels, they’ll have to remove the old. They usually add this cost to replace electrical panels under labor. It’s a larger project that involves removing the old panel and immediately installing the new. It’ll take at least an hour, and it’ll cost between $65 and $90.
- Schematic Drawings – Many homeowners like to have schematic drawings of their electrical wiring. It will list the locations of your electrical system components, and this can cut down on future repair times. Your electrician can create this drawing at an hourly rate that ranges between $50 to $100.
Reasons Why You’d Replace Your Electrical Panel
Figuring out the cost to replace electrical panel and doing it can help make your appliances work at peak efficiency, prevent electrical fires, and boost your home’s overall value. This is nice if you plan to sell, or if you just want to make sure everyone is safe. A few of the biggest reasons to replace your electrical panel includes but are not limited to:
- You have a lot of power strips going to support your electronics
- Your home is at least 20 years old or older
- Some of the outlet holes have black around them
- You recently remodeled parts of your home or added more people to increase your electrical usage
- Your outlets have a crackling or buzzing noise
- The electrical panel feels warm to the touch
- The electrical panel has a slight odor
- When you plug in lights or electronics while another appliance is running, the breakers trip
- Your lights dim or flicker by themselves
- Your home currently has an old-school fuse box
Benefits and Drawbacks of Replacing Your Electrical Panel
Knowing the benefits and drawbacks that come with upgrading or replacing your electrical panel will help you plan for the additional expenses that come with this project, and it can help you decide whether or not it’s feasible.
If you’re trying to justify the cost to replace electrical panel, it’s helpful to know the biggest benefits and drawbacks associated with it. This way, it just may tip the scale one way or the other on your decision. They include:
- Gives your home more power
- Allows you to safely run all of your appliances
- Reduces fire hazards
- Lowers the risk of electrical accidents
- Expensive upfront cost
- Can take days to complete
Hiring an Electrician vs. Doing it Yourself
If you’re confident in your abilities, doing some smaller-scale electrical work around your house is fine. However, you really do want to pull in a licensed professional for this job. Even if it drives up your cost to replace electrical panel, it’s worth it to ensure that it gets installed correctly. Also, some building codes require a licensed professional to install it for several reasons, including:
- Contacts – Electricians have a network of suppliers they can use, and this allows them to get the materials at a lower price point, and this can save you on the cost to replace electrical panel.
- Experience – Most electricians have replaced or upgraded several electrical panels, so they know the fastest and safest way to complete the project. This experience is also invaluable if they run into issues.
- Insurance – If something goes wrong while they’re in your home, they have insurance to help offset the damage costs. If you try to replace it yourself and something goes wrong, your homeowner’s insurance may deny the claim.
- Knowledge on Procedures and Codes – Any licensed electrician is up to date on the latest procedures and code requirements set by your local office.
- Tools or Equipment – You’ll need specialized tools to complete this project, and it can be expensive to go out and by them on your own. An electrician will have everything they need.
- Training – Electricians have to undergo consistent and regular training to keep their licences updated. They’ll know about the most recent building codes, and they’ll know about the latest circuit breakers and panels available.
Where to Find an Electrician to Replace Your Electrical Panel
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you have to upgrade your electrical panel more than once?
You shouldn’t have to upgrade your electrical panel every few years like you would other parts of your home. However, you should upgrade if you notice burn marks around the panel or if it’s tripping breakers when you try to run multiple appliances or electronics.
2. Is it possible to replace an electric panel by yourself?
No. You’ll need the help of a licensed professional. They have all of the tools and knowledge to ensure that they complete the project while keeping it in compliant with codes and building regulations. This can help to prevent fines and other problems.
3. Does homeowner’s insurance cover the cost to replace electrical panel?
Your homeowner’s insurance usually covers electrical wiring if it’s damaged. However, the type of wire and your home’s age can impact your rates. The older the wiring it is, the more likely it is to be a fire hazard.
4. How do you know if your breaker box is going bad?
You may notice a burning smell because this can indicate that the breaker box is getting overloaded. Your lights may flicker periodically, or your breakers may trigger if you run a few appliances at a time.
The cost to replace electrical panel will depend on a variety of factors, but you can use this guide to get a more accurate estimate if you plan on starting this project in your own home. We invite you to take this cost to replace electrical panel guide and see how it applies in your own situation. This way, you can have a safer home without breaking your budget.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.