Replacing an Electrical Panel Los Angeles

replace electrical panelMost homeowners find it difficult to assess the condition of the panel in the home. It’s usually because you know so little about how it works.

Thankfully, we can simplify what you need to know about replacing an electrical panel in Los Angeles.

An electrical panel serves two purposes in any building. It provides electricity and ensures safety. An electrical panel in Los Angeles can last about 40-60 years. But age is not a vital factor when you want to determine the condition of the panel. Excessive use, wear, and tear could lead to wires loosening in your electrical panel, accumulation of dust that shortens the lifespan of the panel, and corrosion.

Signs to replace an electrical panel in Los Angeles

The age of your home doesn’t determine how long your electrical panel will remain in good condition. What’s important is that your panel is large enough for your electrical needs and can function properly to provide power and safety. If your panel needs replacing or repairs, there are signs to look out for. They include;

  • Rusted components

The presence of rust or corrosion in your electrical panel means the panel has been exposed to moisture. You can observe this if you open the breaker box. Rust is never a good sign because water in your panel can be dangerous. The panel will have to be replaced and the source of the rust or moisture determined to prevent it from happening and putting your home at risk again.

  • Constantly tripping circuit breakers

This is usually where the safety function of the electrical panel comes in. When the circuit breakers sense an overload or power surge in your electric system, they trip off to protect the system. However, constantly tripping circuit breakers are another issue entirely and indicate a fault.

  • Burn marks in the panel

As the electric panel ages, parts of it may break down and generate heat. This leads to obvious burn marks in the electrical panel, and like rust, it can be very dangerous. The panel will have to be replaced.

Other signs you need to repair or replace your electrical panel are;

  • The electrical panel is underpowered and not large enough to serve your needs.
  • Breakers don’t work at all to protect your home.
  • Old wiring that is no longer safe.
  • Lights flickering or dimming in the home, especially in an older home with an older panel.
  • You hear buzzing sounds or perceive strange/burning smells from the electric panel.

Replacing the electrical panel in Los Angeles

Now you’ve seen all the signs or a few. The next step is to call an electrical contractor in Los Angeles to confirm you need a replacement. Replacing an electrical panel can be costly, and this cost is determined by two major factors.

  • The condition of the panel/scope of the work.
  • The electrician’s rate.

What’s more important is to get a licensed electrician on the job to make sure you get a proper replacement service.

What Is A Main Panel Upgrade?

los angeles panel upgradeIn your utility room, basement, or designated area, you will find a big grey metal box known as the electrical panel. The box comprises a series of wires and circuit breakers that determine where power goes in your home.

An efficient or upgraded main panel determines the right amount of voltage to meter out and ensures power is distributed safely and properly.

A main panel in need of an upgrade is more inconvenient than you would imagine. Hence, when it becomes necessary, don’t hesitate on a main panel upgrade.

The options that come with an upgrade

Upgrading your main panel depends on your precise electrical needs. If you need to upgrade from a smaller panel to a big one, that’s one option. It might be because your current panel can no longer provide enough power. You may also upgrade to fix faulty or damaged parts of the panel. The options usually involved with an electrical panel upgrade include;

  • Getting a bigger panel to bring more power into your home
  • Upgrade circuits to meet current National Electrical Code standards.
  • Replacing damaged or old components.
  • Increasing the number of circuits so you can add more outlets.

Ask all the right questions first.

To upgrade your main panel, you will need to hire a professional electrician. The electrician should be licensed and experienced in panel upgrades.

But, before you dive into signing any contracts and starting the work, ask the right questions to confirm that you need an upgrade and what to expect.

This is relevant as you may want an upgrade for the wrong reasons. For example, some homeowners take on this project when an electrician performs the inspection to say you need an upgrade; you think your insurance company demands it; you’ve heard something scary about fuses; you experience lights dimming and flickering, and so on. Within this list could easily be someone trying to sell you a bill on what you don’t need and your fear.

An honest electrician can tell you if you really need an upgrade and why. If they don’t tell you why be sure to ask first before agreeing.

When it’s time for the upgrade, the electrician should also have ready,

  • A detailed electrical estimate of the cost of upgrading the main panel.
  • Permits sorted before any work can take place.
  • An installation date on a day with good weather.

What happens when it starts?

A main panel upgrade can be highly disruptive or not so much depending on factors like the work involved and your electrician. It’s best to know what to expect to stay prepared.

The power to your home will be turned off for a minimum of 4 hours to as long as the electrician estimates to finish. During that time your appliances should be unplugged. You can also avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer door until it’s over.

The electricians will need access to your home. They will work mostly around the area of the panel and possibly others like your water tank or meter area. If there is wiring involved, they would work room to room.

How to Pull an Electrical Permit in Los Angeles

pulling permit in los angelesNot all projects require a permit, but most electrical works do. In Los Angeles, it’s easy to pull an electrical permit if you meet all the requirements. Since pulling permits differ from state to state, we have put together the Los Angeles guide you need.

An electrical permit is an approval you get from your building department to go ahead with electrical projects in a home.

In Los Angeles, you will need electrical permits for any kind of electrical works. These include work related to;

  • All residential and commercial buildings
  • Installing a new electrical panel
  • Installing a new sub panel
  • New buildings or addition to a building
  • Any electrical installations over 600 volts.
  • Installations of lighting including exits lighting and security lighting.
  • Installations in hazardous locations.
  • New, expanded, or replaced electrical items
  • Installation of a complicated electrical system as determined by the Department, such as Emergency, Legally Required Standby, Fire Alarm, and Gas Detection Systems.

The Permit Process

To pull an electrical permit in Los Angeles, you must first file electrical plans with the indicated department. These plans and the first step are referred to as electrical plan check. Only when this plan check has been approved or deemed not required will a permit be issued.

Electrical permits in Los Angeles can also only be issued to an electrical contractor with the appropriate license, the property owner, and or an agent representing either the contractor or the property owner.

Why it’s important to pull a permit when necessary?

Pulling a permit in Los Angeles may seem like a hassle to you, but it’s necessary if you want to avoid certain unfriendly situations. Electrical work carried out without a permit is considered illegal. Such unpermitted work can cause even more problems in the future if the option of a resale comes up. There’s also no assurance that the work was done up to code.

Where can I obtain the permit in Los Angeles and how much time is involved?

You can obtain an electrical permit from the local Building and Safety District Office serving your area. For online permits, you can go through Los Angeles County’s Electronic Permitting and Inspection (EPIC LA).

For simple projects that do not require a plan check, you can get an express permit when you apply online.

For small-medium projects, a plan check can take 45-60 minutes and as the projects get larger, plan checks extend to even weeks.

After obtaining the permit, the permit expires within 12 months if work has not started from the time it was issued.

It’s possible to get an extension on your permit, but that might require an extra fee.

How to make obtaining an electrical permit in LA easy

Start by hiring a professional and licensed electrician for your electrical needs. It’s legal, easier, and safer to let this experienced technician pull the permit for your project. All you will need to do is likely to bear the cost.

Licensed electricians can get permits faster and pass inspections easily too. They are also updated on current codes, and this saves you any future problems.

Reasons to Upgrade to a 200 Amp Service

You certainly love the confidence and convenience of plugging in any appliances you need whenever you need them. You love this so much that it becomes easy to forget that your electrical panel cannot give more than its capacity.

According to experts, electricians, recent electrical codes, and homeowners who have had unique experiences, the standard capacity for an electrical panel is a 200 amp service. If you have less, then you probably require an upgrade. Here are all the reasons why.

Amps and Your Electrical Panel

The industrial grey box in that safe, dry area of your home distributes electrical power across circuits that serve you. This box is the electrical panel or breaker box, and every panel has its dedicated capacity. Depending on how much power you need, your electrical panel can be between 100-400 amps.

Old homes often used 60-100 amps panels because they had fewer electrical demands. Using similar sized panels in these modern times can be insufficient for your home needs. It can lead to fire hazards, lights out, faulty appliances, and much more.

Why upgrade to a 200 amp electrical panel

  1. To enjoy increased capability and safety

Electrical panels often work at a certain maximum capacity. This helps to ensure the safe working of the panel. Going over this safety threshold can not only cause your breaker to trip, but can also lead to a fire caused by overloading circuits/outlets.

  1. More circuits

With an upgraded 200 amp panel, you get enough room for dedicated circuits. This further improves electrical safety and allows you to run an increased number of appliances and more power demanding appliances without your breaker tripping.

  1. Future demands

Switching to a 200 amp breaker is one of those good decisions that helps you prepare for the future. With this service upgrade, you can add new devices, remodel your home, and do much more without worry.

  1. Everything is just easier

Another solid reason to upgrade to a 200 amp service is the increased efficiency you get to enjoy. Everything is simply much better and easier with a 200 amp panel. The panel is easy to reset and repair with compatibility for GFCI circuits.

How to know you need an upgrade

  • Breaker tripping frequently
  • Dimming lights, especially when appliances are turned on
  • Buzzing or crackling sounds.
  • Breaker won’t reset

Always confirm the exact source of your electrical issues from your electrician.

Humming Noise from Electrical Panel

You are right to worry about suspicious buzzing or humming electrical noises around your home. Electrical systems are designed to work quietly, offering you power and efficiency with no hassle.

Your electrical panel controls the power supply in your home while keeping you safe from electrical hazards. Hence, any annoying or worrying sounds from the panel could indicate problems of different kinds. See what these noises could be and what they might mean below.

  1. A light buzzing sound

By a light buzzing sound, we mean a faint buzzing sound from your breaker. It’s not the type to keep you up at night or be highly noticeable. The cause is often current flowing through the breaker, like water flowing in some direction. This light buzzing sound is generally normal and harmless. But, if it gets louder or involves clicking and other horror-movie sounds, be sure to call an electrician.

  1. Medium humming sounds

This sound is louder and more obvious than a light buzzing sound. It can take various forms such as a sizzling noise, sparking, a clicking noise, or a humming breaker. So you can hear sizzling sounds with occasional sparks and this certainly means something is wrong with the circuit breaker. The cause may be frayed and loose wiring which is incredibly dangerous and an electrical hazard. It is necessary to call an experienced electrical technician to replace and repair the wiring quickly.

  1. Loud and continuous buzzing sounds

Now, this is what keeps you up at night. Constant loud buzzing sounds can be disturbing because they are loud. The cause often stems from the breaker not tripping when it should, and this, in turn, indicates that the breaker is bad. Your electric breaker shuts off the power supply during a power surge to protect your home. But when it fails to do this the flow of current to the wires increases leading to a buildup of heat, the loud buzzing sound, and an electrical hazard. Circuit breakers go bad for several reasons such as wear and tear and a faulty panel. This humming noise should not be ignored, and an electrician should be called immediately.

A buzzing and humming sound is normal if…

The sound isn’t loud as we have described above.

If the buzzing sound starts right when your AC comes on but stops once the appliance is working smoothly.

Trying to solve this electrical issue yourself can be very dangerous. Therefore the first and safest way to solve humming and buzzing noise from your electrical panel is to call a licensed and experienced electrician.

It may be time for an electrical panel upgrade — contact an electrician for more information.

What’s the Cost To Replace Federal Pacific Electric Panel?

panel upgrade los angelesA safe electrical system is invaluable to every home and if you have a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel (FPE), replacing it is the best solution to ensure your electrical safety.

Federal Pacific Electrical Panels are commonly found in homes between 20 and 70 years old. These panels were first introduced by Reliance Electric in the 1950s and quickly became installed in millions of homes across the country. It was soon discovered that FPE panels were unsafe and present a great risk to homes that use them.

Your home’s electrical panel distributes electrical power safely across all circuits. It is also built to ensure protection by tripping off in situations like a short circuit, circuit overload, power surge, and so on. If the breaker cannot do this, the chances of an electrical fire starting increase dangerously.

How an FPE breaker puts your home in danger.

According to reports from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Federal Pacific breakers may fail to trip during an overload or short-circuiting. FPE breakers have recorded high rates of not tripping when necessary for your electrical protection. It was also discovered that the breakers tend to enter a lock-up. A lock-up describes a situation where a breaker that has tripped once will never trip in the future regardless of dangerous conditions like an electrical overload.

Studies estimate over 2,800 electrical fires caused each year by a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel that didn’t trip.

Most of the unreliability of the panel is due to the use of cheap materials in its manufacture and their limited original design.

Distinct risks and problems posed by a Federal Pacific breaker also includes;

  • The crowded wires often found within the panel box.
  • The breakers to do not switch off even in the OFF position.
  • Arcing occurs at the bus.
  • The Federal Pacific breakers trip unexpectedly when the dead front cover is removed.
  • Breakers are often not tightly connected to the bus bar.

Electrical inspectors always encourage homeowners to replace and not repair a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel. Electricians may also hesitate or refuse to fix problems with these panels because they cannot guarantee the results or your electrical safe afterwards.

Identifying a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel

You may have a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel if your home is as old as between 20 to 70 years. Since the company no longer exists, you can’t purchase a new FPE panel. It can only be present if it was installed in older homes. You can identify an FPE panel with the labels or logos on the front cover. The common appearance is an orange and white label.

You can also look out for the name Stab-Lok written inside the panel or on the breaker. A signature red label across the front of the panel is another indication.

The cost of replacing a Federal Pacific Electrical Panel may vary across electricians, location, and other factors. The replacement can generally cost anywhere from $1500 to $2000, and even more.

The replacement will include any necessary repairs, rewiring, moving the panel location, and installation that are up to recent codes.

Can a Homeowner Replace Electrical Panel?

panel upgrade los angelesYour home’s electrical panel is the source of electricity to your home. It is where the power from your utility company is distributed across circuits, outlets, and all areas where they are needed in the home.

All too often, homeowners try to DIY some electrical services and the short answer to the topic question is yes. The long and safer answer, however, is no.

An electrical panel should only be replaced for reasons such as the following;

  • The panel is faulty
  • The panel is old/ you live in an old home
  • It’s not up to code
  • You need to add a new appliance, renovate your home, or need more power.

Why an electrician should replace an electrical panel?

Replacing the electrical panel can involve rewiring the home as well. It also means having to deal with permits, a dangerous amount of electricity, and so on.

An electrician should be one to replace or repair an electrical panel because they are trained, experienced, and knowledgeable on the project. An electrician knows the safety measures to put in place to protect himself and your home while working on such a demanding project. Electricians are updated on the latest National Electrical Code information. They are insured to cover any injury or damage gotten from the project – which is unlikely for a homeowner.

Taking directions or advice on the process from online sources still means you are unsure or uninformed about what you’re doing and this could lead to fatal injuries and fire.

 What you need to know before replacing your electrical panel?

You will need a permit. A panel replacement is a serious electrical project that often requires the technician performing it to pull a permit.

In some states, it’s illegal for a homeowner to do electrical works themselves. You would be unable to pull a permit in this situation. You would also need to get the final work inspected.

It goes further to when or if you intend to sell your home. Some states require that homeowners provide a list of all modifications or repairs done to the home without a permit.

Before you take on replacing the panel yourself, it’s important to first check with your local laws and know what’s legal or required.

Learn the safety measures involved and understand the steps well before starting the project.

While many homeowners can replace their electrical panel, most choose to leave it to the professionals. The cost and hassle of hiring an electrical technician for the project are worth it when your safety is on the line. A professional replacement guarantees a reliable system and no conflicts with the law. You can get an inspection, sell your home smoothly, and enjoy your upgraded electrical system as you want.

With experienced electricians such as The Electric Connection, a panel replacement can be affordable and stress-free. We do our best to make this less worrisome or intrusive on your part. Start by scheduling an inspection to confirm if your panel should be replaced or repaired.

 

Do I Need A Panel Upgrade When Purchasing a New Refrigerator?

electrical panelA refrigerator is almost a must-have in modern homes and as such various models hit the market every day trying to meet up with homeowners’ needs. When you purchase a new refrigerator, it’s fine to wonder if there will be any complications with your home’s electrical system.

Your home’s electrical system and panel precisely might seem like superheroes who never tire but make no mistake, it has a limit to what it can take.

There are several reasons you might need a panel upgrade with or without your purchase of a new refrigerator. They include:

More power

An old home yet to be rewired likely has a 60-100 amp electrical panel. Modern homes typically have a 150-200 amp service and larger homes can even invest in a 400 amp service. As you would observe the capacity for home panels seems to increase over time. It’s only natural following the constant introduction of various home appliances on the market. Hence, when adding any home appliance it’s important to ensure you have sufficient power.

An upgrade gives you more power and the flexibility to do this without the worry of putting stress on your electrical system. If your amperage is insufficient for new additions, the breaker will trip frequently and be at risk of electrical issues. Power-hungry appliances in any home often include air conditioner, electric clothes dryer, electric range, hot tub, and refrigerators. An upgrade becomes necessary for you to enjoy a safe system with the freedom to add new appliances.

Faulty wiring

Flickering or dimming lights, sparking or discolored power outlets, burning smells, and more are warning signs that indicate faulty wiring. Your home electrical wiring was built to last, but not forever. As the wiring deteriorates with use, the need for rewiring and upgrade can come up.

Old-fashioned fuse box

Circuit breakers and fuses perform the same function, but fuses are outdated because of their limitation to one-time use. While circuit breakers have to be reset after tripping to prevent a short circuit, fuses melt and disrupt the flow of power. Fuse boxes are often found in old homes and you will need an upgrade to change them.

Despite these reasons, only an electrician, like those at The Electric Connection, can determine if an upgrade is what you need. Upgrading from a lower amp to up to 200 amps can cost up to $3000. The project usually requires a permit and will be inspected after completion.

Refrigerators and your electrical panel

Refrigerators come in different design, styles, and sizes, but they all typically require a dedicated 115 or 120 volts with a properly grounded branch circuit. This should also use a 3 prong grounding type receptacle, protected by a 15 or 20-amp circuit breaker or time-delay fuse. If you are plugging your refrigerator in with a generator as the power source, you will need to know the wattage. You can find the exact figures written on the refrigerator’s rating plate. Make your calculations using volts x amps = wattage.

A fact to note is that the amps or wattage needed to start the refrigerator is 3 times its running amps or wattage.

 

 

Electrical Panel Questions & Answers

electrical panelThe electrical panel can be a confusing subject for many homeowners. That grey metal box determines how electricity flows in your home and the capacity of your electrical system. Here are some questions and answers to help you know your panel more and explore the mystery around it.

  1. Can I install an electrical panel in the bathroom?

The short answer to this is no. When installing electrical conductors or equipment, you must consider the environment they will be used in. For example, electrical conductors to be used in a damp environment must be marked for that. And to install a panel in a bathroom, all the electrical components have to be marked for indoor wet location. This is neither feasible nor economical. Hence, an electrical panel is always installed in a place it can be kept dry, protected, and minimize the quantity of electrical wiring needed to reach other locations in the home.

  1. Should home surge protectors be installed in the main electrical panel?

Yes! Whole house surge protectors protect your appliances during power surges and help you avoid the hassle of having to replace them. In the upcoming 2020 NEC, there is a proposal that whole home surge protectors be installed with every new electrical panel installation; including replacements.

  1. Is it mandatory for electrical panel circuit breakers to be labeled?

Yes, the electrical code requires that electric panel breakers circuits be labelled. This labeling is vital for the safe operation of the panel, especially when there is an emergency. The circuit breakers should be labeled in such a way that it is easy for anyone to tell what circuit serves where. There should also be a circuit directory on the inside of the panel door capable of enduring much wear and tear. The initial labeling of the circuit breakers takes only minutes.

  1. What are the spacing rules for receptacle outlets on kitchen countertops?

For this to come into play, recall that you would often need to use an appliance on the countertop. Most appliances come with cords up to 24-inches or more. So, receptacle outlets are installed in a work space 12-inches or wider. They are installed in such a way that you can’t go over 24-inches along the wall line without reaching an outlet.

  1. Can I use nonmetallic cable ties in an electrical panel?

Yes, this is a solid way to keep the electrical conductors neatly grouped and the installation looking professional.

  1. Do I install a GFCI device in the panel or a receptacle?

When it comes to GFCI devices, the most common options today are GFCI receptacles and GFCI circuit breakers. Using a GFCI circuit breaker means everything connected to that branch circuit is protected and this would be an ideal option. However, for existing systems, using a GFCI circuit breaker might not work correctly. GFCI receptacles are preferable in such situations.

To know more about your panel or get an inspection for any electrical issues, connect with the Service Team at The Electric Connection.

Do I Need a Permit to Add a Subpanel in Los Angeles?

los angeles panel upgradeYour home’s electrical panel provides power to all electrical components of the home. But sometimes the electrical panel may need assistance and this is where a subpanel comes in.

A subpanel can be described as a mini electrical panel. It has the same structure and functions as the main electrical panel and is only present as a sub. A subpanel is connected to the main panel via three thick wires. It has separate bus bars for ground and neutral wires and may be labeled ‘lugs only’. In most cases, the subpanel isn’t the same brand with the main electrical panel.

Why do I need a subpanel?

Choosing to add a subpanel can be for different reasons because subpanels are not mandatory. A subpanel provides ample space when you need to install more appliances in the home, renovate, or simply lessen the load on the main electrical panel. They also provide convenience by reducing circuit wiring runs when you centrally locate the subpanel. This also helps to reduce a drop in voltage.

How does it work?

To add or install a subpanel, you must first determine the right sizing. It involves considering the power you need alongside what the main electrical panel has to offer. For example, you can easily add a subpanel of 100 amps if the main electrical panel is 200 amps or more. Bur when you have a 100 amp main electrical panel adding a subpanel of the same 100 amps in contradictory. The only solution will be to upgrade your main electrical panel first.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) has specific rules when it comes to installing subpanels or main electrical panels. The electrical panels must have a minimum of 36 inches of clearance in front, 30 inches of clearance across the face, and 78 inches minimum above the floor.

In addition, you must mount the panel in a safe, dry, and easily accessible area.

Do I need a permit for this?

Most electrical work requires a permit, but for installing a subpanel the situation differs across jurisdictions. You would have to contact your city’s building and code department, Los Angeles Building and Safety, to determine if you require a permit before starting the installation.

Also, be sure to inquire about inspection schedules to know when you can call for an inspection of the work. Bear in mind that if you require a permit for this electrical work, it should only be acquired by the person who will be performing the work.

Tips for installing a subpanel.

Shut off electrical power to avoid accidents before you begin any electrical work. Determine where you will mount the panel. Seek professional help from a local electrician.

When to Contact a Los Angeles Electrician

If you think you may need to install or replace a subpanel in Los Angeles, give The Electric Connection a call today. Our team of dispatchers are standing by waiting to take you call. They’ll go over your project with you and get you on schedule with one of our expert electricians. Don’t delay!