Q: Do I need to upgrade my panel and what are the benefits?

A: Upgrading your electrical panel can be made for both functional and financial reasons. Modern homes today use a variety of devices, including high-definition televisions and computers, 240V for spas and hot tubs, sub-panels for the garage and the list goes on,  these power needs go way beyond the design specifications of older homes and businesses. As technology continues to enter every facet of life, power requirements will continue to increase. Prospective homeowners may look at old panels as a sign of an obsolete electrical system in disrepair, so upgrading a panel can make a big difference during the sale of a property.

 Some panel upgrades need to be made immediately due to safety hazards, signs of failure or panels that were discontinued or recalled due to failures and/or breakers not tripping when the circuit is overloaded. When a Federal Pacific panel (Hazards) or other outdated panel is still in service a panel upgrade or replacement is usually recommended or at the very least the customer should be made aware of the situation.  Also, If you have flickering lights, buzzing, crackling sounds or blown fuses, these indicators may also require a panel replacement of upgrade and in certain scenarios, heat can build up within walls and cause a fire. Any irregular electrical behavior should be looked at by an electrician as soon as possible. While repair may be adequate, an upgrade should be considered in order to improve the overall quality of the electrical system.

Q: What is the cost of upgrading my panel?

A: The average cost for a 200 amp upgrade usually range between $1500 to $2500 (including materials). These costs fluctuate depending on the size of panel that is being upgraded, desired size of panel upgrade, if your existing service is fed from “overhead” or underground power lines (service feeders). Additional parts and labor may be needed to complete work of existing wiring and raceways, additional grounding or code corrections required by the city or state. Although, in a lot of cases code corrections may not be required because of an exception clause and may be “grandfathered in” depending on the year your house was built. These upgrades can significantly increase the costs of a given project, but they are necessary for maintaining a safe and functional power system.

Q: What size of panel should I upgrade to?

A: While many older homes used less electricity in the past they had a minimum requirement of 100 amps. Modern homes now have high-definition televisions, computers, 240V for for spa and jacuzzis, additional circuits for power tools and machinery in the garage and more which now have power needs beyond the design specifications of older homes and businesses. As technology continues to enter every facet of life, power requirements will continue to increase and A 200A upgrade is the standard upgrade and usually recommended. Prospective homeowners may look at old panels as a sign of an obsolete electrical system in disrepair, so upgrading a panel can also make a big difference during the sale of a property. Whether a property owner is looking to increase the use of power or make the property adaptable to future technological advancement, upgrading a panel has a lot of advantages. Electrical systems are the life and blood of modern properties, by upgrading services to meet these new demands, homeowners can supply power to new devices and appliances without the fear adding a new circuit in the future. 

Q: Do I have to go without power? If so, how long will the power be off?

A: The choice is yours, if you have to have the power on during the upgrade process then there is an alternative. Temporary power is available through the power company for an additional charge. In most situations, temporary power is not necessary and the additional cost for this service can be saved. The power to your panel is disconnected by the power company, when planned correctly, all the prep work is done in advance and with good coordination with the inspector and power company power is usually restored to your main circuits in 6 to 8 hours. This means your refrigerator and freezer will not have power and should be kept closed until the power is restored. By minimizing existing foods and adding a bag of ice remaining food and condiments items will be kept cool while the power is off.

Q: You’ve decided to upgrade your panel, what’s next?

To help make the process as painless as possible, we’ve put together a list of the most commonly asked questions and answers along with some usefull links and guidelines so you’ll know what to expect…

Once you’ve decided to upgrade your panel, the first step is to request a “Utility Meter Spot”. If you are a current residential customer with Anaheim Public Utilities this can be done online, in person or by calling customer service. Once the “Utility Meter Spot” has been requested a utility inspector will contact you within 2-3 business days and provide you with a simple diagram called a meter spot report.

In Person:

Anaheim Public Utilities Customer Service

201 South Anaheim Boulevard
1st Floor
Anaheim, CA 92805

Or you can call Customer Service at 714-765-3300

Please have the following information ready…

• Your name and home address

• What you plan to do (new service, relocate or upgrade your service)

• A phone number and email address to get in touch with you

The Utility Inspector will check the outdoor utility wires and location of where to connect to your panel and can answer any questions about your project. Also, keep the Meter Spot Report handy for your required building permit.

If your home has overhead service wires and there are no changes to your utility service wires, then the connections are made by the utility company at no charge. However, if there are any changes required to the utility pole or equipment then any additional charges are costs specific to your project.

RESIDENTIAL OVERHEAD ELECTRICAL

UPGRADE/RELOCATION 

If your home has underground service wires and there are no changes to your utility service wires, then the connections are made at no charge. However, if there are any changes required to the utility pole or equipment then any additional charges are costs specific to your project.

RESIDENTIAL UNDERGROUND ELECTRICAL
UPGRADE/RELOCATION 

Next, a Utilities Electrical Designer will call you within 2-3 business days to discuss options for your service panel, and any associated costs if required. Once the project scope is determined, an electric service plan will be prepared in about 2 weeks to provide you and your contractor with the formal construction requirements. You may pick up your plan from the Electrical Engineering counter at 201 S. Anaheim Blvd., 7th Floor or request that it be mailed or e-mailed to you and your contractor. 

If you are undergrounding your overhead electrical lines and are willing to install the plastic conduits for new underground wires, you may be eligible to receive an incentive rebate as part of the Home Undergrounding Programing (HUG). For more information, refer to anaheim.net/utilities/HUG/flyer.pdf or ask the Utility Inspector.

You’re ready to apply for a building permit. A City Building Permit is required to ensure your home is in compliance with the building code. The Building Inspector will check the electrical panel and all the wiring inside your home. You can apply for the permit over the counter at City Hall, located at 200 S. Anaheim Blvd., or call 714.765.5153. There is a separate fee for the building permit.

Let’s get started, all the paperwork is completed, and now we’ll measure distances from the ground up to the bottom of the panel, the existing panel size, how many and what of size knock outs, how many existing circuits, what size and where the circuits enter the panel. Then we’ll make a material list and start demo work to make sure installation goes smooth and eliminate surprises…

Now that all the approvals have been obtained, you can have your electrical panel installed and prepare for the first of two inspections needed. The First inspection is called the “Rough-in Inspection”. Rough-in inspections are simply inspections of portions of the wiring system that will be concealed when the project is completed. All wiring and circuit raceways must be inspected before they are concealed. State and local laws require the inspection and approval of wiring installations. Rough-in inspections are the only opportunity to inspect the portions of the premises wiring that will be covered by insulation, the building finish or otherwise concealed.  Once this is completed, contact the Building Inspector at 714.765.4626 to approve the panel installation and house wiring. The inspector will then sign off on the rough-in inspection and you are ready to finish up and prepare for the second or “Final Inspection”.

Once the rough-in inspection has been signed off, your ready to prepare for the second or “Final Inspection”. The contractor will then check and confirm grounding and bonding required is in place, proper voltage is present at feeder wires and all circuits at line and load contacts, check and confirm continuety at all contacts and common busbars then identify and label panel board. Once these steps are completed ans confirmed please contact the Utility Inspector at 714.765.6847 to verify that the installation is up to NEC code, safe for to restore power to the panel and sign off on the “Final Inspection…

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