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Electrical Service Panel Upgrades: Everything You Need to Know

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

electrical service panel upgrade

Upgrading a service panel is a common procedure when homes are being renovated or older buildings are experiencing an increase in electrical demand.

When you add new electrical loads to an existing system such as bigger appliances, new technologies, and luxury items, they all require more power than older 60 or 100 amp panels can provide. It also becomes a safety issue: faulty, outdated, or overloaded electrical circuits are the leading cause of house fires in North America.

In this post, we'll briefly review each of these topics and FAQs below:

Types of Service Panels: Fuse Box vs. Circuit Breakers

When Do You Need a Panel Upgrade?

What Does an Electric Panel Upgrade Involve?

Steps to an Electrical Panel Upgrade

Placement of Electrical Panels: Can You Move Yours?

Placement of BC Hydro Meters & Panels

Grounding & Bonding the Service Panel

Cost to Upgrade a Service Panel


electrical fuse box
A Fuse Box in a Vancouver Apartment Building (Now Replaced)

Types of Service Panels: Fuse Box vs. Circuit Breakers

Sometimes people use the terms “fuse box” and “circuit breakers” interchangeably for electric panels, but they are two different things.

Placed in older homes (roughly pre-1960), fuses are found in a metal box with a metal strip in which an electrical current is sent through. If the current exceeds the limitations of the metal strip, the strip melts and stops the power—AKA “blowing a fuse.”

The core problem with a fuse box is not only having to immediately replace blown fuses, but safety issues such as outdated wiring or lack of proper maintenance.

Updated fuse box to breakers Vancouver
Updated Fuse Box to Breakers in Vancouver

Newer electric service panels utilize circuit breakers, which operate the same way as fuses (i.e. they shut off power when they detect a current overage). However they don’t need to be replaced—circuit breakers are mechanical switches that can just be reset.

When Do You Need a Panel Upgrade?

Even if you’re not remodeling, there might be signs that your electrical panel is overloaded and/or needs updating. For example:

  • The home still relies on a fuse box

  • You have a 60 amp panel

  • Circuit breakers trip frequently when several appliances are in use at the same time

  • There's no room to add circuits

  • You’re planning to add a hot tub, heat pump, EV charger, or bigger appliances

  • You’re building a secondary suite which requires a second meter

  • Your panel has been recalled or is unsafe (e.g. frayed wiring)

If you have a 100 amp panel in your home, there’s a good chance this will need to be updated in the next year or two to accommodate any new appliance purchases.

new electrical panel Vancouver

What Does an Electrical Panel Upgrade Involve?

When upgrading a service panel, our electricians replace the old panel (usually 100 amp) with a brand-new one that can handle 200 amps - on average for residential homes - or more for buildings and commercial establishments.

Modifications or improvements to your service connection must go through BC Hydro. We manage this process as part of our electrical panel upgrade service.

BC Hydro meter base
JZ Electric Upgrading the Meter Base</