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How Much Does it Cost to Replace an Electrical Panel?

Last Updated on May 7, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

The electrical panel, often called a breaker box or service panel, is the central hub that connects your home’s electrical system to the main utility service line. Over time, outdated or insufficient panels need replacement to meet current home electricity demands, safety codes, and efficiency standards. But what does this major electrical upgrade typically cost for residential homes?

Prices to purchase a new panel and professionally install it range from $850 on the low end to $4,000 or more for premium service upgrades, with many factors influencing the total project cost.

This guide examines average costs to replace main service panels and subpanels, price variation examples, the importance of pro electrician installation, criteria for selecting qualified electrical contractors, compliance and permit considerations, anticipated challenges, and the long-term value gained by upgrading your home’s outdated electrical box.


  • For most standard homes, costs typically range $1500 – $3000 including professional installation
  • High-end renovations or complex wiring can push costs above $4000
  • Labor for an electrician averages $50 – $100 per hour
  • New breaker box materials start around $200 – $600
  • Permits, inspections and special disposal fees add $200 – $500
  • Upgrading electrical service for added capacity costs $500 – $1000+
  • Use a fully certified, insured electrician rather than attempting DIY
  • Ensure proper permitting and inspections to stay code-compliant
  • Compare multiple bids and electricians to balance experience and cost

While not an inexpensive undertaking, a new electrical panel is a worthy investment to protect your family’s safety and maintain a modern, energy efficient home.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace an Electrical Panel?

While simple in concept, accurately estimating the total costs for a residential panel replacement project requires understanding several variables that affect the final price:

Electrician Labor

Professional electrician hourly labor rates range typically range from $50 to $100 per hour for complex diagnostic and installation work involved in a panel replacement. The total number of working hours an electrician invests on your property has a major influence on the project’s final cost. Installation time varies substantially based on the unique complexity of your home’s existing electrical wiring setup and layout.

Materials – Breaker Boxes and Components

The new breaker panel itself costs $200 on the very low end for basic models up to $600 or more for premium high-capacity panels. Extra parts like new breakers, surge protectors, and disconnects add to materials expenses as well. The amperage capacity and electrical load needs of your home dictate what size and grade of panel your electrician recommends.

Permits, Fees, and Inspections

Most jurisdictions require obtaining permits before and inspections after electrical work, for necessary compliance verification. Electrical permits themselves commonly cost $50 to $150 based on the project scope. Any required inspections typically range from $0 to $100 each depending on your municipality.

Increasing Electrical Service Capacity

If your home’s existing 70 amp or 100 amp electrical service needs upgrading to a larger 200 amp panel to support added circuits and increased electrical load demands, this can add $500 to $1,000 to the total project cost. Upgrading the electrical service lines and meter may be mandatory to meet codes or simply advisable to meet contemporary household power needs.

Accounting for all these significant variables, most standard single-family residential panel swap-outs including all necessary materials and professional labor range from $1,000 on the very low end to $3,000 on average, with premium upgrades climbing up to $4,000 or more depending on your home’s unique complexity. Replacing a panel at a large luxury property or during a major home expansion with substantial electrical service upgrades will fall at the top of this price range spectrum.

According to the Family Handyman, the cost to replace an electrical panel can range from $500 to $4,000, depending on the size and amperage of the new panel. For a small home without high-demand modern appliances, a 100-amp electrical panel can cost between $500 and $1,500 to replace. For most average family homes, a 150-amp panel can cost up to $1,750. For a larger 400-amp panel, the cost can range from $1,500 to $4,000.

The article on Bob Vila’s website states that the typical range for electrical panel replacement cost is $522 to $2,082, with a national average of $1,274. The type of electrical panel, its amperage, location, brand, materials, labor, and permits can all impact the overall cost. The website emphasizes that replacing an electrical panel is not a DIY project and should be handled by a qualified electrician.

Angi’s article on the cost to replace an electrical panel reports a range of $530 to $2,100, depending on the location, the type of hardware, and any required building materials. The article highlights the importance of obtaining the necessary permits and inspections when replacing an electrical panel.

Forbes Home provides a similar estimate, stating that replacing an electrical panel can cost anywhere from $550 to $3,000, with most homeowners paying around $1,300.

Electrical Panel Types and Their Respective Purposes

There are two main categories of electrical panels that may require replacement in residential homes:

Main Service Panel

This is the primary and largest electrical panel that connects your home’s internal electrical system to the external utility service lines coming into the building. The main service panel will contain the large main circuit breaker shutoff switch enabling disconnecting power into the home. It also contains all the main circuit breakers distributing power throughout your internal electrical system. Main panels are fed by the service entry wires coming from the utility transformer outside.


Subpanels are secondary, smaller electrical panels that tie into and receive their incoming power from the main service panel. Subpanels are added to increase available circuit breaker spaces and distribute electrical loads across multiple panels, especially in larger homes. Their installation may also help isolate and separate circuits supplying certain sections of the home, like a detached garage or in-law suite area.

The costs to replace either a main or subpanel are generally comparable, as the same fundamental workflow applies in most cases – the outdated existing panel is physically removed, a new properly sized one installed, wiring reconnected, and upgrades or new circuits added as needed.

Importance of Professional Licensed Electricians

While simply swapping out an old breaker box for a fresh new one may appear straightforward at surface level, the reality is only State-certified professional electricians have the specialized skills, code knowledge, tools, and experience to safely handle the complex wiring connections and compliance requirements involved.

Homeowners attempting DIY electrical panel replacements risk:

  • Electrocution hazards from improper electrical wiring connections made by inexperienced hands. Mistakes can have tragic consequences.
  • Fire risks if overloading circuits through amateur miscalculations. Electrical mistakes account for over 50,000 residential fires per year in the US. Don’t risk adding to that.
  • City citations and refusal to restore power until legitimately permitted and approved, costing you time and money.
  • Invalidation of your homeowners insurance if unpermitted hazardous work is discovered after an incident. You’d be fully liable for damages.

Given the dangers posed and technical precision required, investing in a fully licensed, insured, and experienced professional residential electrician to methodically oversee and execute your panel replacement from start to finish is very strongly recommended. Don’t cut corners to save a few dollars on such a major electrical home project.

Choosing a Reputable Contractor

When evaluating prospective electricians to hire for your residential panel replacement project, be sure to verify and meticulously consider these key factors in making your selection:

  • Current Electrical Licensure and Insurance – Ask to see official documentation proving active master electrician licensing and up-to-date liability insurance policies protecting both you and the electrician. Never hire uncertified side-jobbers.
  • Extensive Specific Experience – Search for electricians who have specialized expertise particularly with whole residential service panel replacements, not just general wiring. You need someone well-versed in the entire panel swap process.
  • Stellar Reviews and Safety Ratings – Check online sources and ask for past client references to confirm at least a 4-5 star service reputation and a track record of safe, compliant electrical work. Red flags like serious safety violations or shoddy construction cancel qualifications.
  • Detailed Quotes Outlining All Work – Avoid vagueness. The quote must cover exactly what work will be performed, parts included, timeline, and warranty provisions. Understand what’s covered for the price.
  • Warranties on Materials and Labor – Reputable electricians stand behind their workmanship with guarantees should issues emerge, giving you peace of mind.

Taking great care to select the most qualified, experienced electrical team with a proven track record ensures your new panel will meet the highest quality and safety standards while seamlessly handling all legal permitting and inspection processes from start to finish. Don’t leave things to chance with cut-rate contractors.

Legal Permitting and Inspection

Replacing a Circuit BreakerBefore any electrical panel replacement work begins, your electrician must apply for the proper permits from your local building department to authorize construction. Officials then inspect at key stages:

Pre-Work Inspection – Confirms existing wiring conditions to form a remediation plan that meets codes. Deficiencies must be corrected before proceeding with the panel swap.

Rough-In Inspection – Checks new wiring, conductor sizing, and components after new panel installation but before concealment.

Final Inspection – Verifies all electrical work meets National Electric Code (NEC) and local standards prior to city authorization of utility reconnection.

Navigating these bureaucratic procedures can be complex. Rely on your electrical contractor to ensure full compliance. Permits and inspections prevent hazardous non-code-compliant electrical work.

Challenges Replacing an Old Electrical Panel

While permitting adds steps, it helps identify and remedy lurking issues before work begins. Common challenges encountered include:

Outdated Wiring – If existing wiring lacks proper grounding or uses undersized conductors, full rewiring may be required, increasing costs.

Asbestos Insulation – Panels installed before 1980 may contain asbestos requiring abatement by specialists for safe removal.

Severely Corroded Bus Bars – Extensive rusting on internal connecting bars could mean a total panel rebuild versus swapping the box alone.

Lack of Space – If the old panel’s location has limited room, modifications may be necessary to accommodate modern larger boxes.

A thorough initial inspection assessment is key to avoid mid-project surprises. Being ready to handle some additional costs and delays preserves safety.

You might also like our articles about the cost of knob and tube wiring replacement, circuit breaker installation, or whole house generator installation.

Long-Term Home Benefits

While swapping your electrical panel represents a sizable short-term monetary investment, the upgrade provides these major benefits that enhance your home’s safety and add value over time:

  • Prevent Fires – Modern breakers are far less likely to overheat and arc than vintage fuse panels, reducing fire risks.
  • Gain Capacity – Larger 200 amp panels support running more high wattage appliances critical to modern living.
  • Improve Efficiency – New boards avoid energy leakage that wastes power and money monthly.
  • Increase Resale Value – Updated electrical systems in good working order improve sale prices and buyer confidence.
  • Obtain Peace of Mind – The reassurance of knowing your family lives with an electrically safe, code-compliant system is invaluable.

In the end, while certainly representing a major household investment, proactively replacing an aging home electrical panel pays dividends through improved daily experiences and reduced risks that outweigh the costs over time.

Final Words

While upgrading your aging electrical panel represents a major financial investment, it returns considerable long-term dividends through significantly enhanced home safety, efficiency, reliability, and resale value. The short-term expense to swap the outdated breaker box for a new code-compliant panel that meets your family’s contemporary electrical needs is well justified.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to replace a main electrical panel?

For a standard main panel replacement in a single family home, the full process with permitting and inspections usually spans 6-8 working hours total between the electrician disconnecting the old service, installing the new panel and breakers, coordinating any needed permits, and having final city inspections successfully completed.

Assuming no unexpected complex rewiring needs arise, main panel replacement can often be completed in one standard workday.

How often should electrical panels be replaced?

There is no absolute fixed lifespan or replacement timeline for electrical panels. However, as a general rule of thumb, once your existing residential breaker box reaches 40 years of age or older, it’s usually a wise idea to strongly consider a replacement upgrade.

Visible symptoms like frequently tripped breakers, buzzing from the panel, flickering lights, or hot outlet cover plates also signal potentially degraded wiring or an overloaded outdated panel in need of replacement beyond its service life.

Is it easy to replace the electrical panel?

In most cases, absolutely not. Attempting a DIY electrical panel replacement risks major safety hazards and code violations if wiring connections are done improperly. Even if physically swapping the box itself may seem deceptively simple, the entire process requires extensive technical electrical knowledge and skills to legally meet permit requirements.

Unless you are a fully licensed electrician yourself, hiring a properly certified and insured professional to handle the end-to-end panel replacement is strongly recommended to protect your home and family.

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