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When to replace your Electric Panel

Electric panels are the heart of your home and are very important to the system as a whole. An electrical panel allows electricity to be distributed through your home safely. All the wires from every outlet, fan, light switch, or appliance come from the electric panel connected to a meter base, typically outside. Therefore making sure your panel is up to date is crucial. Here are simple tips to make sure your panel is safe and up to date.

Like a phone or a light fixture or outlet, they all have a life expectancy, and so does an electrical panel. Typically a panel has a life span of 20-30 years. As technology keeps developing, newer and better products come along to make the home more safe. If your home was built in the 1960s- 1990s, you should consider getting an electrician out to see if your home is safe and up to date. While your home may run day to day without any problems. Ensuring your panel is in the correct location and operates smoothly at all times is imperative. Below will talk about the areas you should and shouldn’t have an electrical panel installed in your home.

Safety and Accessibility: The best location for an electrical panel is one that is easily assessable and at a safe place. There should be no items blocking or in front of the panel, and it must be able to open 90 degrees and have 3 feet of clearance in front of it.

Bathroom: NEC 240-24 Requires that an electrical panel not be installed near wet locations such as bathrooms or kitchen areas. While panels are installed with water-tight material, avoiding consistently wet locations near them is best. This is because water conducts electricity and leads to a possibility of shorting the panel.

Garage: A garage is one of the best places to put an electrical panel since it is away from anything flammable, and typically, there’s enough space to reach the panel for maintenance or to operate it.

Outside: An electrical Panel outside is one of the most recommended places. This is because a panel has enough room for an electrician to perform work without obstructing objects. While electrical panels are designed to distribute power, they also produce much heat. Having it near a brick wall is a great way to ensure your home is safe and up-to-date.
NEC 230.70 States the service disconnecting means shall be installed at a readily accessible location either outside a building or structure or inside nearest the point of entrance of the service entrance conductors.

Closet: If you have an electrical panel in a closet, it’s best to have a qualified electrician inspect it. While installing electrical panels in the closet in the 1970s-1980s was popular, they are no longer allowed in the new Electrical Code 2023. For many reasons, one of the most significant being that a panel has electricity running through them throughout the house. While doing this, it contains the heat of 104°F while the burning temperature of cloths is 120°F. While panels are designed to control heat and electricity. The NEC states that any electrical panel or device must not be near anything easily ignitable. A breaker box in a closet could be dangerous if not cared for by a professional electrician.
While older panels typically have the challenge of keeping up with all the electrical demands, here are some key warning signs to let you know it’s time to replace your panel.
Warm to the touch: If your electrical is warm to the touch, this may lead to possible failures such as breakers tripping and wire breaking. While a panel helps regulate the temperature of each breaker’s temperature, they are less effective as they get older. Suppose you feel any heat around your panel. In that case, getting an electrician out to evaluate your panel or use infrared imaging to ensure it’s within its temperature limits is essential.

Breakers Tripping: There are many reasons a breaker can trip, which can mean the breaker is doing its job. If the breaker tripped repeatedly, it could be a more severe problem. With one or two trips a year, there may be little to no problem with it. Now if your breaker is tripping repeatedly, that could mean that it may be time to replace the panel, or the breaker may be overloaded.

Odd Noises: as a panel gets older, the material degrades. If you are hearing any noises, such as static or clicking. It may be a sign to get a professional out there as soon as possible. Usually, a static sound could be electricity not flowing correctly through the wire, and a popping sound could be breakers tripping or turning off completely. All these factors could lead to a potential danger in your home.


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