Electrical panel Sizes
Many homes built in the 1960,s have been modernized over the years and many look like they are much newer with the updates. Most of the homes of this era are on their third set of shingles and the second set of windows and exterior siding. The one renovation that is usually left to the last is the electrical entrance, panel and branch circuits. This is because it is not easy to make changes to the interior of the walls where the wires are hidden. This issue will look at the electrical entrance in particular and how you may be forced to upgrade it to 100 amps.
Most of you will remember a time when you had to move furniture around to find a power source in a room, only to see that it was already in use by two or more other cords. As an inspector I often come across the tangled power cords of several electronic components hidden behind a sofa or desk. Using the thermal camera I often detect a heat signature of an over loaded and over heated electrical circuit. Most of the time there is a power bar and an extension cord or two all plugged into one receptacle. The issue here is the potential for fire, which leads me into the topic of insurance.
Insurance companies are also aware of the extra demand of today’s homeowners. They have the data to prove that an older home with a 60 or 70 amp service panel can lead to overloading of the circuits and potentially a fire. This is why they will often insist that in order to be insured in such a home you are required to upgrade the panel to 100 amps and add extra circuits. The cost of changing the panel is usually between $1500.00 and $2500.00. So before you sign on the dotted line have a look at the electrical system and the size of the panel. Ask your insurance company if they have a policy on the minimum size of the electrical service entrance. While the 60 amp panel and one receptacle per room was sufficient in 1960 it is more likely to be inadequate and unsafe within the context of today’s power needs.