Do I Need a Permit to Upgrade My Electrical Panel? Answered

The short answer to this question is yes. In almost every situation possible involving electrical services, you will need a permit to make any changes to your home or business. As with nearly anything, there are some rather unique exceptions to this rule, but by and large, you can expect to need one for an upgrade or replacement you need to do on appliances, wiring, or devices in your home. The primary reason you are required to get a permit would be to ensure the overall safety of everyone who will come and go into the building you are working on and guarantee they are safe to do so.

In most areas, upgrading an electrical panel requires a permit from the local building department. You’ll need to have a licensed electrician perform the installation and ensure that it meets all local building codes and safety regulations.

Why is it Important to Upgrade Your Electrical Panel?

Upgrading your electrical panel can improve the safety and efficiency of your home’s electrical system. Here are some reasons why you might consider upgrading your electrical panel:

  1. Increased Capacity: If you’re adding new appliances or electronics to your home, you may need more power than your current electrical panel can provide. Upgrading your electrical panel can increase its capacity and ensure that you have enough power to meet your needs.
  2. Improved Safety: Older homes may have outdated electrical panels that are no longer up to code. Upgrading your electrical panel can improve the safety of your home by ensuring that it meets current safety standards.
  3. Reduced Energy Costs: Upgrading your electrical panel can also help reduce your energy costs by improving the efficiency of your home’s electrical system.

Consequences of Not Obtaining a Permit

Obtaining a permit before upgrading your electrical panel is not only important for safety reasons but also for legal reasons. Failure to obtain a permit can result in fines or legal action against you. Additionally, if you decide to sell your home in the future, you may be required to disclose any unpermitted work that was done on the property.

When Do You Need a Permit?

You’ll need a permit if you are:

  • Upgrading or relocating an electrical panel
  • Upgrading the meter base or service mast
  • Upgrading to 200amp service
  • Running new electrical wiring for an outlet, switch, or fixture
  • Adding a new breaker or circuit
  • Adding a sub-panel

When Do You Not Need a Permit?

You likely won’t need a permit if you are:

  • Replacing a light fixture
  • Replacing a receptacle
  • Replacing a light switch
  • Replacing a breaker inside the electrical box

Please note that the decision as to whether or not you need a permit to upgrade your electrical panel is situational and likely determined by local laws and ordinances. With that said, it’s always best to choose a reputable firm like Smith & Jones Electric, which has years of experience on any electrical services and is familiar with local ordinances and laws.

How to Obtain a Permit for Electrical Panel Upgrades

Obtaining a permit for an electrical panel upgrade can be a long and arduous process, but it’s necessary to ensure that the work is done safely and up to code. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to obtain a permit for electrical panel upgrades:

  1. Contact Your Local Building Department: The first step in obtaining a permit is to contact your local building department. They will be able to provide you with information on what permits are required for electrical panel upgrades and what documentation you need to submit.
  2. Submit Your Application: Once you have all the necessary documentation, you can submit your application for a permit. The application will include information about the work you plan to do and the contractor who will be doing the work.
  3. Schedule an Inspection: After submitting your application, you will need to schedule an inspection with the building department. The inspector will visit your home to ensure that the work is being done safely and up to code.
  4. Receive Your Permit: If everything checks out during the inspection, you will receive your permit. Keep in mind that this process can take several weeks or even months depending on where you live.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Upgrading your electrical panel is an important step in ensuring the safety and efficiency of your home’s electrical system. However, it’s equally important to obtain a permit before making any changes to your electrical panel. Failure to obtain a permit can result in fines or legal action against you, as well as potential issues when selling your home in the future.

If you’re not comfortable obtaining a permit yourself, consider hiring a licensed electrician who can handle the process for you. They will be able to ensure that all work is done safely and up to code.