Electrical Panel Change or Upgrade
Servicing Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Felton, Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek, Soquel and Aptos.
Stallings Electric (Based out of the Santa Cruz Mountains) offers nearly every service imaginable for electrical panels. If you are looking to upgrade your electrical panel service amperage, move your panel to a different location, replace your panel with a newer model, or get it inspected for safety, we are happy to help.
Feel free to contact us for a FREE survey of your project, so that we can provide you with an accurate quote for completing your project. Email us at: Service@StallingsElectric.com or give us a call at 831-335-2407.
Panel Change or Replacement
Outdated Panel: You might be considering a panel change to a more modernized panel. If you have a Zinsco, Federal Pacific, or Sylvania panel and your home was built or updated between 1970 to 1981 - there is a good chance it should be changed to a modern panel, due to the increased risk of starting an electrical fire. If you'd like a better understanding of why these types of electrical panels might a safety hazard to your home, checkout our blog writeup about "Panels that are fire hazards."
Desire to Add More Circuits: You might have an electrical panel (either service or sub-panel) that doesn't have enough room for the new circuits that you would like to add. If this is the case, you can get your sub-panel or service panel changed to a larger panel with more spaces for new circuit breakers.
Rusted or Damaged Panel: A damaged or rusted panel can be dangerous to your home and should definitely be considered for a replacement. Contact us or send us a photo to get an expert opinion.
Upgrading Your Utility Service Amperage
Most average sized homes built between 1950 and 2000 have a 60 amp to 125 amp service, which typically powers a household and most devices just fine. An average service may no longer be enough when you begin to add devices like electric car chargers, solar panels, hot tubs, pool heaters, electric dryers, air conditioners, etc. Most modern homes use a 200 amp service to account for modern appliances and home technology.
Luckily, the County of Santa Cruz and PG&E allow residents to upgrade their utility service when they have a good reason to do so, all the way up to 400 amps if necessary. You might be wondering what this process looks like, so here is the general idea:
Electrical Panel Utility Service Upgrade Process:
1) Homeowner or electrician acquires permit for service upgrade from the County of Santa Cruz building department. This can take some time, depending on how busy the planning department is.
2) Electrician schedules with PG&E, home inspector and home owner for the date of new panel installation.
3) On the date of installation, PG&E will cut the utility power to the residence, allowing the electrician to begin work.
4) The electrician will remove the old lower amperage panel and hook up the utility service to the new larger panel, as well as ground the new panel, install a new riser and connect all the previous circuits.
5) The building inspector will come and inspect the electrician's work for safety.
6) Once approved, PG&E will be called to come reconnect the utility service.
7) Voilà, you now have an upgraded utility service with the ability to run the appliances and home devices
Helpful Panel Terminology
In case you want to be even more informed, let's cover some basic electrical panel terminology so that you'll have a better understanding of electrical panels as you move forward with your project. It never hurts to know more when doing home projects!
Utility Service Entrance
Home Sub Panel
Utility Service: This is the main power coming into your home from the powerlines or undergound, owned by your power company (in Santa Cruz, this is PG&E service).
Service Panel: This is the main panel that your utility service (the powerlines that feed your house electricity) come into. These are easy to identify because they are found on the exterior of your home and have a large meter on them, which is also why they are often called "meter mains."
Sub Panel: This is an additional panel to your service panel, not all houses have subpanel(s). There are a few different reasons that a subpanel might exist: to allow for additional circuits, to make a certain set of circuits more accessible, or to separate a group of circuits to be controlled together.
Circuit: This is a wire that gets power from the panel and brings it to the plugs, lights, and devices in your home. Many plugs, lights or devices can be attached to a single circuit, but too many will begin to cause problems and overload a circuit when they are all being used (if the circuit breaker and service cannot support the load). If your circuit breaker is tripping, its probably because too large of a load is being put on a single circuit.
Circuit Breaker: This is the small switch connected to a circuit on your electrical panel. They take up "spaces" in your electrical panel. Most circuit breakers are 120 volt circuits, but some are 240 volt circuits which will take up 2 circuit breaker spaces and be labeled 30-100 amps. The circuit breaker acts as a safety device for the circuit it is attached to, detecting overloads or shorts, and then "tripping" automatically when detecting a fault to protect the system. If you have a bad circuit breaker that does not trip (common in older panels), it will allow a circuit to heat up so much that it can melt or burn materials and cause a fire somewhere along the circuit or the breaker itself, often causing a fire.