A key sign that you are due for an electrical service and panel upgrade is when a house-wide blackout occurs, usually after one too many devices has been plugged in. Even if on observation it seems that no single circuit was overloaded, the system response of shutting down is a sign that too much power has been drawn from the system, and is often an indication of a low capacity service panel.
A demand calculation adhering to the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) is often used to determine the safest minimum service size for your home. Section 8 Circuit Loading and Demand Factors of the CEC is particularly useful for homeowners, explaining that a service size will often be based on the square footage of a living space, as well as heating or air conditioning loads, kitchen appliances, and more. Load calculations can be done by a hired licensed electrician prior to the decision to upgrade to determine whether the demand for your home meets your current panel’s capacity.
The maximum amount that a homeowner can safely use on a regular basis is 80% of the total capacity, with the remaining 20% being used for lighting and appliances. If the demand exceeds 80%, a service or panel upgrade is in order for safety purposes. However, there could also be reasons for installing a larger service size than is required, such as having to meet CEC standards. A minimum service size may also be required by local code, by-law, or insurance company regulations, regardless of the load calculation.
Since this is a very big project to complete in the timespan of one day, it is highly recommended to hire an electrical contractor to guide you through the process. A licensed electrician will be able to note any other building code upgrades that may be required (such as those involving smoke detectors or plugs) and can walk you through the additional upgrades before working on your panel.
If your home has not had a service and panel upgrade in the past 25-40 years, it’s worth looking into, as an outdated electrical panel is a dangerous one, putting your home at risk for electrical fires. The modern demand of electronic devices has created the need for a much higher capacity more than ever before. Don’t take the risk — upgrade your electrical service and panel today!
Contact MADE ELECTRIC for more information, to learn more about service and panel upgrades, and to inquire about having a service and panel upgrade installed in your home! We operate within the GTA to ensure that your home and your electronics are safe.