How to Upgrade an Electric Panel
Upgrade Electrical Panels
If you live in an
older home it probably has an older main electrical
panel that is limited to 60 amps. This makes adding
additional electrical circuits difficult or
impossible. Adding new circuits in an old house is
something that is necessary to accommodate
additional appliances or living space.
If your electrical panel does not have the
capacity for additional circuits you will have to
upgrade the electric panel.
Upgrading electrical panels is generally performed
by a professional electrician. However, it is not
that difficult and nearly anyone can perform the
task. Before beginning work on any electrical
circuit you should take some basic safety
precautions. Ensure that you are standing on a dry
surface and wear leather gloves to protect yourself
from electrical shock.
Begin by labeling all the electrical lines that
come into your house from the electrical meter. The
lines are color coded; the black wire is the one
that carries power (hot line), the green wire (or
bare copper wire) is the ground and the white wire
is the neutral which is the return line.
Shut off the main power breaker and remove all the
individual circuit breakers from the panel.
Remove the main power breaker from the original
panel. The black wire will remain hot during this
process unless you have the power company remove
the electrical meter. If you are not experienced at
working with live electrical power I recommend that
you have the power company remove the electrical
meter. If you choose to work with the live wire
ensure that you tape the wire immediately after
removing it from the main breaker.
If precautions are not taken a fatal
accident could occur. Even though the hot wire is
taped you should still take care that no one
touches the wire.
Once the main power circuit breaker is removed,
remove all the individual breakers and disconnect
the ground line from the ground bar. The ground bar
connects to your house ground and to the neutral
bar, which returns to the electric utility line.
Install the new panel, preferably a 100 or 200 amp
Route the main power wires into the new panel and
attach them to the appropriate terminals.
Ensure that the neutral line is wired to the
neutral bar and the ground wires to the ground bar.
Check to ensure that you are not feeding the wrong
bars with the wrong wires.
Install the main circuit breaker. If the new panel
is a 100 amp panel you will need a 100 amp main
circuit breaker. At his point you now have
electrical power feeding the new panel
Route the individual circuit wires into the new
panel. Balance the same number of circuit breakers
on each side. Keep in mind that a 220 circuit will
occupy two spaces in the panel. Attach the neutral
and ground wires to the appropriate bars.
Install the circuit breakers by snapping them into
place and attach the power wire (black) to the
circuit breaker. Insure that the attachment screws
If you had the power company remove the electrical
meter prior to removing the old electrical panel,
have them reinstall the meter after you have
finished installing the new panel and all the
That is all there is to it.
Now you know how to upgrade an electrical
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