Panel Upgrades

Electrical Panel Upgrades

Electrical service panels are an integral feature in every commercial or industrial setting, making a significant impact on the daily running of the business property in relation to its function, safety, and efficiency. If your facilities are showing signs of damage, or simply haven’t been treated for a long time, an electrical panel upgrade can help your organization prepare for the demands of operating a firm in the modern era.

What Exactly Is A Commercial Electrical Panel?

An electrical panel is the metal box that you probably refer to as a fuse box, circuit breaker, or breaker panel. They are traditionally found connected to the building’s exterior, but may also be found in an electrical room or the basement. Their chief function is to facilitate a reliable supply of electricity to the commercial property.

All properties, including residential ones that receive an electricity supply, will boast at least one electrical panel. However, more extensive commercial settings may additionally use secondary service panels in other parts of the property or utilize switchgear.

Most electrical panels include a main circuit breaker that can control the electrical supply to the property via a simple ‘on’ or ‘off’ switch. Meanwhile, individual circuit breakers are used to control specific locations. For example, there may be one circuit breaker for the storeroom and another for the office reception. Other setups may use one circuit breaker for the lights, alongside another for appliances or machinery.

While the electrical panels may show some contrasts from one company to the next due to different manufacturers and building requirements, the fundamental features remain the same.

How Electrical Panels Safely Supply Power

In addition to ensuring that the building receives electricity in a reliable manner, electrical panels additionally ensure that the current is provided in a safe manner. The most noteworthy safety feature is that each circuit breaker is designed to trip when it suffers from overheating. Essentially breakers are built to carry a current up to a certain level. Without the trip attribute, excessive currents could cause the wires to overheat and potentially catch fire.

It’s a key feature in residential properties, but is particularly vital for commercial buildings as electrical outlets, including equipment and machinery, may be continuously plugged in. The electrical panel’s ability to trip the switches when the current is too much can prevent a range of dangerous situations, protecting assets, and potentially saving lives.

Electrical Panel Safety Insights

Reliable electricity is something that business owners expect at all times and is often taken for granted until a problem occurs. All company owners know that electricity is essential to their daily operations. Still, the following stats should quickly highlight the impact that electricity has on the venture.

On average, businesses use between 15,000 and 25,000 kWh of energy a year. There are roughly 24,000 electrical fires per year in the U.S., covering both residential and commercial incidents. A huge 98% of organizations state that a single hour of downtime costs over $100,000 in lost revenue and increased costs.

While there are several contributing factors to consider, including your choice of electricity supplier, the electrical panel is what facilitates the electricity supply from the power grid. Its role in the business operations must not be ignored.

Why Are Electrical Panel Upgrades Necessary?

While electrical panels are designed to facilitate safe and efficient electricity supplies, they can encounter problems over time. The constant supply of current can cause individual breakers to overheat, which subsequently stops them from tripping when required. Once the trip facility does not work as it should, the threats posed by electrical overheating become severe.

Breakers can become damaged over time due to a wide selection of reasons. Perhaps the most common source, however, stems from the materials used. Aluminum heats at a quicker rate than copper, meaning any electrical panels using the former solution are at risk of damage over time. Unfortunately, there was an era when aluminum was the most common option, mainly due to copper shortages. These outdated units are the perfect candidates for an industrial panel upgrade.

An electrical panel upgrade can, therefore, be used to achieve a wide range of beneficial outcomes. The most telling attributes include;

  • Increase safety by choosing a new electrical panel that uses the most robust materials.
  • Improve the speed of identifying potential electrical problems as switches will trip with better response times.
  • Facilitate a consistent and reliable current to all areas of the business following an expansion or extension of the property.
  • Remove worn wires and replace them with new breakers and wires that can protect your business for years to come.
  • Gain the peace of mind that comes from creating a safe and efficient electrical panel.

What Are The Signs You Need A New Electrical Panel?

Most electrical panels have a lifespan of 30 to 40 years, but this can vary due to a variety of issues. The fluctuations are a little greater in commercial settings compared to residential buildings due to the type of usage. However, electrical panels are very good at altering owners to potential faults, particularly if you know what to look for.

This can be due to faults or changing requirements within the business building. Issues associated with commercial electrical panels include, but are not limited to;.

  • There are signs of rust inside the panel, suggesting moisture damage that can lead to further overheating and problems.
  • Circuit breakers regularly trip, showing that the system is either overloaded or suffering from an electrical fault.
  • Areas within the electrical panel show signs of burning, confirming that overheating has occurred over time.
  • Lights flicker or outlets regularly display signs that they have temporarily lost power, even for a split second.
  • Inadequate wiring, either due to oversized breakers or messy wiring in the primary or secondary electrical panels.
  • You are using multiple power strips, particularly for heavy-duty machines that require lots of electricity.

What Happens If It's Left Untreated?

Ignoring the need for a service panel upgrade, or trying to delay the inevitable, can lead to significant problems relating to various aspects of the business. Some of the most worrying and damaging repercussions are;

  • Run an increased risk of electrical fires either at the fuse box or in the property itself.
  • Encounter increased downtime through temporary issues that occur following the trip, as well as downtime that requires an engineer to visit your venue.
  • Cause unnecessary damage to equipment and machinery as they lose power due to the electrical overheating.
  • Lose data and unsaved documents while also running the risk of data corruption.
  • Spend more money in the long run due to the decreased efficiency of your electrical supply, as well as the prospect of needing emergency repairs.
  • Increase your stress levels due to the frequency of minor faults and issues.

The Electrical Panel Upgrade Process

If you believe that your commercial building needs a new and improved electrical service panel, you are probably right to make this assumption. Even if it isn’t an emergency situation, taking action at the next convenient moment is advised, as leaving it untreated exacerbates the problems.

Electrical panels are made from various elements, which is why calling an experienced electrical technician to provide a comprehensive electrical panel inspection. This will analyze a full range of components, such as;

  • The enclosure bonding
  • The feeders
  • Wire ampacity
  • Arc flash settings
  • Grounding
  • Ground lug
  • The fittings
  • Ground busbar
  • Breaker trip settings
  • Bonding jumpers
  • Conduit fills

Whether identifying a simple issue relating to an incorrect setting or diagnosing the need to replace the electrical panel, this is the first step towards getting your systems back up to scratch. An electrical panel inspection is highly encouraged when making significant electrical upgrades or when you are having repeated electrical panel issues.

How Will The Industrial Panel Upgrade Be Completed?

The next steps are heavily influenced by the results of the inspection. It is possible that a simple change of settings and rewiring could fix the situation. In the vast majority of cases, though, a service panel upgrade will be needed. While there are many potential pathways to follow, the most likely results are;

  • Replace an outdated model that uses aluminum components or is made from an outdated manufacturer such as Zinsco, Federal Pacific Electric, or Pushmatic & Challenger.
  • Remove a faulty electrical panel to replace it with a new one that is built to provide your business with consistent and safe electricity supplies for decades to come.
  • Upgrade an electrical panel system by replacing the primary panel and adding secondary panels to provide energy to new workspaces and commercial areas.
  • Installing electrical panels that can support the eco-friendly technologies that have been used to upgrade your commercial building.

A thorough service includes lighting inspections and surveys of the company’s electrical usage to identify further upgrade opportunities while you should also seek advice on how to keep the energy supply in good health.

We are living in a digital age, and our reliance on electricity is greater than ever. Due to the increased demands, it’s very likely that your older work buildings need attention in this area. To find out more or arrange a consultation and audit, get in touch today.

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