Though it might not be the most engaging or compelling part of running a business, your electrical panel is definitely one of the most important ones.
A commercial electrical panel provides electricity and power to your appliances, equipment, and buildings. No power, no business.
Everything that flows from your panel must follow codes implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire Protection Association to prevent electrical fires, shocks, and more.
Electrical panels also ensure that power is distributed effectively so you can maintain and improve your commercial energy efficiency.
Now that you know the importance of electrical panels, you might be asking yourself, “Should I upgrade my electrical panel?” Keep reading for 4 signs that it could be time to upgrade or replace your commercial electrical panel.
1. You’re Having Electrical Problems
This is the most obvious, and the most concerning, sign that you need an upgrade or a replacement with your panel. Common signs of electrical issues include:
- Breakers tripping
- Blown fuses
- Strange sounds (crackling, sparks, etc.) and smells (burning, etc.) from panel
- Defective circuits
- Fires and/or electrical shocks
- Lights dimming
- Appliances or equipment not working or shutting off
You should also make it a habit to inspect your panel and the wiring inside for corrosion, rust, frayed wires, or other damage.
Even if you notice just one of these signs, it’s a good idea to upgrade or replace your panel. Any issues or damage to the panel could directly violate building codes, insurance policies, and put your building and team at risk.
Electrical problems greatly increase risk of injury and fire in the workplace. This can also decrease your commercial energy efficiency, which can increase your bill and power use. Upgrading or replacing an old and faulty system will increase safety and efficiency.
Another sign of electrical problems is when you aren’t getting enough electric supply to power throughout your building or workspace. Things that indicate that you’re not getting full power include:
- Dim or flickering lights
- Having to unplug one thing in order to get power to another
- Electronics and appliances not functioning at their highest possible power
- Appliances or machinery not working at all
New electrical panels will be equipped with enough power in order to distribute power properly throughout your business, machinery, and appliances.
2. You’ve Increased in Scale and Changed Technologies
Continuing along that same line of thought from number two, if you’ve expanded, added new technology, brought in more machinery and appliances, or plan to in the future, you’ll almost definitely need an upgraded electrical panel.
Adding new appliances, space, or machinery means that you’ll be increasing the amount of electricity and power you’re using. Not only that, but you’ll likely need to reconfigure circuits, the ways and areas power is distributed to, and more.
If you find that you’re using a lot of extension cords or extension panels with extra outlets, this is also an indicator that you need an upgraded panel to handle your power needs. Thinking back to the lack of power section, all of those are likely caused by this scaling and adding of technology is probably what resulted in your old system not being powerful enough anymore.
3. The Panel Is Warm or Hot to the Touch
Overheating in an electrical panel is a sure sign of either damage, old age, or need for upgrade or replacement. This could be the result of old wires, tripping, faulty breakers, or another issue.
The problem with this sign is that you might not be experiencing any other problems yet, even if the panel is overheating. However, overheating like this is a serious fire risk and is very dangerous.
That’s why it’s imperative to check on your panel often. If you feel that the temperature is even slightly higher than normal, your safest bet is to consult a professional electrician or contractor in your area ASAP.
4. It Hasn’t Been Replaced or Upgraded Recently
The maximum time you should have a single electrical panel is about 20 years. However, we do not recommend having an electrical panel untouched and not upgraded for that long.
It also isn’t feasible to go for that long without replacements or upgrades. Over time, businesses constantly grow, their power needs adjust, policies and building codes change, and new and safer tech is invented.
Think about the changes that your business has undergone in the past 5 to 10 years. If you’ve had any at all, or your panel hasn’t been inspected in the past few years, it’s likely time for an upgrade or some adjustments at the very least.
Asking, “Should I Upgrade My Electrical Panel?” Yes or No, Call a Professional
Whatever lead you to ask, “should I upgrade my electrical panel,” and whatever answer you arrive at, you should probably still have it looked at by a professional.
Professional electricians and electrical contractors will be the best equipped to evaluate your system, panel, and building to ensure you have the safest, most efficient, and most up-to-date panel available.
Commonwealth Electrical Technologies employs the best and most trustworthy electrical contractors in Massachusetts.
Contact us today for help deciding on the best course of action for your business’ electrical panel.