Do I Need a Permit to Upgrade My Electrical Panel?

Your electric panel is the main gateway for electricity to enter your house. By entering here, it then flows through all the different circuits of your home. In essence, the electric panel is straightforward. But what if it’s old and failing? What if you’re trying to sell your home and believe it might be a hindrance? And the big question: Do I need a permit to upgrade my electrical panel?

Photo of an electrician working on an electrical panel
Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu

Understanding how it works is one thing. The main supply arrives at a master breaker, this supplies power to smaller breakers, row by row. Each of the smaller breakers represents a circuit in your home. But if you’re thinking, “I can upgrade my electrical panel myself” then you might want to think again.

Electricity and Your Home

The basic concepts are simple but electricity is not. Rewiring a single switch is quite different from completely changing the biggest electrical system in your home. There are many calculations that need to be made and regulations that must be adhered to. That’s why, if you need electrical work done it’s smart to hire a professional. If you’re in the area contact a reputable Sydney electrician or an equally skilled one where you live.

Don’t forget, electricity is dangerous. Work on it without turning it off and you could get a nasty electric shock. Even if you turn it off and do the work if it’s not up to code you could be increasing the risk of a house fire

It’s worth noting that adhering to the strict regulations means your electrical limit is pretty much changing a lightbulb. 

Understanding the Permit

Electricians and other experts recommend the electric panel and associated wiring is replaced every 25 years. This is because newer, and safer technology will replace the breakers and your wiring is likely to perish, increasing the risk of short circuits and fires.

Of course, regular pest inspections can identify issues with electrics before this, in which case they will need changing.

You’ll need a permit if you are replacing the panel. Permits are generally issued without complications. The state will issue a permit to the company doing the work, although this can be issued to you. 

The electric company will shut off the power to your house before you start work. You’ll need to book a second appointment to get the power back on after the work is done. Don’t forget, it can take several days for the electricity to go back on. Consider booking an appointment in advance.

You can apply for a permit with your local state. It is issued and permits you to change the panel as well as ensure everyone who needs to know, does.

The DIY Option

You may be tempted to replace the panel yourself. It’s certainly safe to do as the power will be shut off to your home. However, for the electric board to turn the power back on they will need to see the work has been certified by an electrician.

That’s when you’re likely to have an issue. Most electricians will not effectively guarantee your work. In doing so they would be putting their own career on the line without being certain as to the quality of the work they have done.

If you have an electrician friend that is prepared to sign it off for you then you can do the panel yourself. If not, it’s best to let the professionals handle it. The panel will probably be replaced faster and it will definitely be safe.