Upgrading Electrical Panels for New Homes in Folsom, CA: What You Need to Know

Upgrading Electrical Panels for New Homes in Folsom, CA: What You Need to Know

If you are building a new home or renovating an existing home in Folsom, CA, it's important to consider your electrical panel and whether it needs to be upgraded. The panel, also known as the breaker box or main service panel, is the central hub that distributes electricity throughout your home. As homes add more appliances, smart home devices, electric vehicle chargers and other power-hungry items, the original panel may no longer be adequate to handle the increased electrical load. Here are some key things to know about upgrading electrical panels for new homes in Folsom. 

Determine Your Home's Electrical Needs

Take stock of all the items in your home that use electricity - from the largest appliances like the HVAC system and oven down to small items like phone chargers. Add up their wattage needs to get an overall estimate of your home's electrical load. Electromy living has resulted in homes using more power than ever before. A panel upgrade may be needed to support things like air conditioning, a hot tub, home office equipment or an electric vehicle charging station. Knowing your total load helps size the new panel correctly.

Check Your Existing Panel Capacity

The main service panel for the home should be rated for the total calculated load plus a buffer overhead of at least 30%. If your existing panel is older (1970s or earlier) it likely has fewer than 30-40 circuit breakers and may only support a 100-150 amps of power. Modern homes often need 200 amp or higher panels. Have an electrician visually inspect your panel for signs it can no longer safely handle the electrical load. Overloaded panels pose a fire risk.

Requirements for New Home Construction 

The National Electrical Code (NEC) sets standards for adequate panel sizing based on the calculated load for new construction. A permit will be required from the City of Folsom to upgrade or replace the panel. The minimum panel size by code for new single family homes is typically 150-200 amps, sometimes more depending on factors like sq footage and number of bathrooms. Confirm panel sizing requirements with your local building department.

Types of Upgraded Panels

There are a few common panel upgrade options available:

- Replace with a larger capacity standard breaker panel in the same location

- Install a sub-panel to handle additional circuits and expand capacity 

- Switch to a Siemens or Square D homeline panel with more circuit spaces

- For whole home remodels, consider upgrading to a 225-400 amp panel placed in a new optimized location

Additional Benefits of an Upgrade

Besides providing enough capacity, a new panel installation allows for adding important safety features like:

- Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected outlets in wet areas 

- Arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers to reduce fire risks

- Labeled circuits for easy identification

- Double breaker spaces where needed

- Additional open slots for future flexibility 

Project Costs and Permitting

The cost of a residential electric panel upgrade ranges from $1,300-$3,000 depending on the scope of work, materials needed and if any electrical work is also required. Hire a licensed electrical contractor to ensure compliance with local codes. Permits are always needed from the city before doing work on the main service panel. Inspections are also required during and after the panel replacement is completed.

Upgrading an electric service panel may seem like a large investment, but it provides peace of mind in ensuring your home's systems have safe and reliable power for years to come. Proper panel sizing is especially important for new construction and major remodels in and around Folsom where additional high-power demands are most common. Planning ahead will save downtime and costs versus trying to expand an already overloaded original panel later on.

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