Electrical Subpanel Installation: What You Need To Know

Do You Need an Electric Sub-Panel?

Do you need more power for your home? Are you adding or removing circuit breakers to provide more power? A sub-panel is the right choice for you. An electrical sub-panel is also known as a circuit breaker subpanel or service sub-panel. It acts as a link between the main service panel, and the branch circuits that are further down the electric line. An electrical sub-panel is essentially a mini-service panel.

What is the difference between a main panel and a sub panel? The main panel is the box that receives power from the utility company. Subpanels are installed features that act as a middle ground between the main panel and any other circuits connected to your property.

What is a subpanel? Subpanels can be used to extend wiring from multiple branch circuits to an area in a house or to a building that is far away from the main panel. Subpanels can also be used to add circuits to the main panel when the slots are full.

The frame building or a house with basic electrical wiring
Subpanels may be needed if you add an addtion or convert your basement into a living space.

Common Reasons for an Electric Subpanel

A sub panel is necessary to take the burden off the main circuit breaker panel, an electrician might install a subpanel. This will prevent overloading of the electrical system, tripping circuit breakers and melting fuses. To separate electrical requirements in specific areas, sub panels can also be used.

A main circuit panel may have enough slots to handle all the wiring in a home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is always safe at maximum capacity. A sub panel is a smaller version of the main circuit breaker panel that carries some of the load in many homes.

Most household main electrical panels run at 100-200amps. Depending on which circuit it is connected, each breaker has a different amperage rating. It can be 15, 20, 30 or 30 amps. A sub panel is an option if there aren’t enough slots on your panel to accommodate another breaker. However, if you have enough amperage to support one without exceeding your load of 100 amps or 200 amps, a subpanel may be installed.

The Main Panel is Overcrowded

Most homeowners won’t be able to access the main panel often and don’t remove the housing or cover that exposes the wiring. Although they are not a problem every day, they can pose a safety risk. An electrician should be able to access one circuit with a breaker panel. A subpanel can be used to tidy up wires that look like spaghetti.

There is an Over-Wiring Cheat

Over wiring is a way to get more out of your main breaker panel. Although the panel may look simple at first, it has tandem breakers which allow two circuits to share one slot. Double-pole breakers use two slots, while tandem breakers can only use one slot.

This Old House states that over-wiring is a code violation in most places, but not necessarily a safety hazard. The homeowner can add additional circuits to the subpanel without having to over-wire the main panel.

A New Addition Was Built by the Homeowner

What happens if the homeowner expands and requires more circuits? If the addition is not too small, it can tap into the main panel. If the panel is full, the subpanel provides the electrician with a blank canvas on which to wire the addition.

Although subpanels are commonly installed next to the main panel, this is not always true. It makes sense to place the panel closer to the rooms it feeds when you add a new feature.

A Separate Unit or Building

Is there a separate bungalow for mother-in-law, rental unit, or workshop? Although an in-law unit is smaller than the main home, it can still have a variety of electrical needs. You will probably find a separate water heater, kitchen equipment, and an HVAC system.

Workshops may require a variety of electrical services, including ventilation, climate control, lighting, and power tools. It may have its own meter or main panel depending on its size.

Although the main breaker panel is safe enough to serve the needs of an average home, many homes are not ordinary. Get your wiring updated. Homeowners can add more. You can make a hobby out of restoring old cars.

A subpanel is used to distribute the electrical load when the main panel is overwhelmed by the homeowners’ needs.

A sub panel can be used to install a hot tub or swimming pool.

FAQs Regarding Sub-Panels

Does homeowner’s insurance cover the cost of replacing electrical panels?

Your homeowners’ insurance policy will probably include coverage if your wiring and electrical panel are up to code.

What Does It Cost to Install an Electrical Sub-Panel in Your Area?

The cost of installing an electrical sub-panel for your project in Atlantic County, New Jersey starts at $1,000 to $1,600 per sub-panel. The actual cost of your job will vary depending on the conditions and the finish options you select.

What is the cost of installing a subpanel in your basement or garage?

A sub-panel installation typically costs between $800 to $1300, which includes labor and materials. A professional electrician is the best person to help you install a sub-panel in your garage or basement.

What is the cost of upgrading an electrical panel from 100 amp to 200 amp?

An average cost to upgrade an electrical panel to 200 AMP service is between $1,700 and 3,000+. A panel upgrade is necessary when homeowners realize that their existing electric panel does not accommodate a new appliance, or other device that uses electricity.

Is a subpanel allowed?

While most electrical work requires a permit for installation, the situation for subpanels varies from one jurisdiction to another. Contact your local building and code department. This will tell you if you need a permit to start the installation.

Are sub-panels required to be inspected?

A permit is required before you can install a subpanel? An electrician licensed and trusted can inspect your subpanel and identify potential problems before they become serious.

Sub-panel Installation Conclusion

A sub panel installation is the best option if you require more space for circuit breakers, but your main electrical panel doesn’t allow for more. Are you still unsure if you require a sub-panel? For an electrical safety inspection, call us today!

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