You’re finally enjoying a day off work, ready to watch your favorite TV show. So, you go to the kitchen, put some popcorn in the microwave, and hit the ON button. But as soon as you do, the lights flicker, and the power goes out.
If the outage only happened to your house (and not your neighbors), chances are, your circuit breaker tripped. And if this isn’t the first time these “mini blackouts” occurred, it indicates you need electrical upgrades for your home.
Electrical upgrades aren’t just for solving existing problems with your system, though. They can also make your home safer, help you save on lighting costs, and boost your home’s livability.
We’ve outlined the top upgrades you should consider in this guide, so please read on.
1. Electrical Panel Upgrade
Your electrical panel distributes electricity throughout your home. Inside are all your home’s circuit breakers, including the main breaker.
Each breaker has a switch that should automatically turn off or “trip” in case of a power overload. You can reset these switches by sliding them back to the ON position if they trip.
The main breaker’s switch shuts off the power to your entire house. The smaller ones, called branch circuit breakers, control individual circuits.
An electrical overload could be the culprit behind the power outage isolated to your home. It can indicate your energy demand has exceeded your panel’s capacity.
That can happen if you have an older 60-amp panel. This is no longer enough, as today’s average household needs a 100-, even 200-amp service.
Few 60-amp panels still exist, but some older homes still use them. They were popular back in the 1950s to the 1960s.
So, if your home has been around since then, it may have an older panel. In Oregon, many houses fit the bill, with over 300,000 built from 1950 to 1969.
To be sure, call your local electrician to check your panel. If it’s old or insufficient, they’ll recommend upgrading it to a higher-amp service.
This is also an excellent time to ask them to perform comprehensive electrical inspections. These can help determine if your system can accommodate other upgrades or if it needs fixing first.
2. Intelligent LED Light Installation
If you’re still using incandescent lights, it’s time to swap them all to LED lighting technology.
LED (light-emitting diode) is the most energy-efficient type of lighting today. It generates the same “level” of light as incandescent bulbs but uses up to 90% less energy. It can also last up to 25 times longer!
Today’s LED products have become more “intelligent,” too. For example, you can control them wherever you are with a smartphone app. This can help you save even more since you can turn off lights you forgot to switch off before heading out.
Some LED lights also let you change their light intensity based on the time of the day. Others can switch to red, green, blue, orange, pink, and any other color imaginable. Moreover, you can now find solar-powered options for energy-saving outdoor lighting.
All that also makes LED light installation some of the best electrical upgrades to increase home value. You can also replace the bulbs yourself. But if you plan to set up an intelligent lighting system, you may want to call the pros instead, as this project often involves wiring work.
3. Outlet Additions
Are you using multiple extension cords permanently? And do all their sockets have something plugged into them?
If you answered yes, your existing outlets are no longer enough for your energy needs. Using too many extension cords is also an electrical hazard that can cause fires. Electrical home fires are prevalent, accounting for 51,000 fire incidents in the U.S. yearly.
At the very least, messy extension cords can be trip hazards.
Adding home outlets with the help of a licensed electrician is the ideal way to resolve such issues. They’ll also verify your home’s electrical system can still support your energy requirements.
4. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Installation
A GFCI is a device intended to prevent electrocutions. It monitors for imbalances in electrical circuits and shuts off the power before a dangerous, even deadly, situation occurs.
GFCI protection is mandatory in rooms with water sources. These include bathrooms, kitchens, basements, laundry rooms, and crawl spaces. Outlets used in outdoor spaces must also have GFCI protection with weatherproof covers.
GFCI receptacles, installed at individual outlets, are the most common option. And while they do a good job, they only protect the outlet they’re in.
If you want whole-house ground fault protection, invest in a GFCI circuit breaker. It protects the entire circuit and not only a single outlet.
5. Home Electrical Wiring Rework
A home electrical wiring rework, or rewiring, involves removing outdated, potentially dangerous wiring. These old components then get replaced with modern wiring that meets safety standards. The job also includes a new circuit breaker panel to handle the new system’s load.
Older houses are the ones that often need rewiring jobs the most. However, even if your home isn’t that old, it may still need rewiring if:
- The circuit breaker keeps tripping
- You feel a tingling sensation whenever you handle appliances
- Lights dim or flicker when you turn on a higher-wattage device
- Outlets or light switches feel warm or shock you
- You have discolored or sparking outlets
- You smell something burning when you use an appliance
In relatively newer homes, those issues can result from poor system installation. They can also be due to material or manufacturing defects.
Either way, please don’t ignore those symptoms and call your local electrician ASAP. The sooner the pro can expect your system, the sooner they can upgrade it or address your problems.
Invest in These Electrical Upgrades for Your Home
From a new service panel to intelligent LED lights and a GFCI breaker, these are just some of the top electrical upgrades for your home. They can help make your abode safer and even save you money.
You can rely on our team of licensed electricians here at Parkin Electric, Inc. to provide you with all those upgrades and more. Our third-generation company delivers high-quality services throughout the greater Portland Metro Area and Washington State.
Contact us today to learn what we can do for your home’s electrical system!