The Process of an Electrical Service Upgrade

By - Summary:

Planning for a Home Electrical Service Upgrade: The Basic Procedure for the Electrical Service Upgrade, The Electricians Task of a Home Electrical Service Upgrade.

Upgrading a Home Electrical Service Panel

Electrical Question: I am having my electrical service upgraded, including a new service riser pipe, meter box, and wiring from the meter to the inside as the old wiring is very frayed.

  • The electrical company said something that did not make sense to me, that we have to move the service wire to the new weather head ourselves. Does that make sense?
  • How does one turn off the power from the pole then, so that our electrician can work on connecting the wires?

I’m just trying to understand who’s responsible for which parts of this project. Thanks!
This electrical wiring question came from Oleg, in Oak Park, Michigan.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Oleg.

The Basic Procedure for the Electrical Service Upgrade


Application: Upgrading an Electrical Panel
Skill Level: Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor, Not Recommended for Homeowners.
Tools Required: Electricians pouch of hand tools and the various power tools necessary for the electric panel upgrade.
Estimated Time: Depends on the exact type of the existing panel or fuse box, the replacement panel to be installed, the original wiring methods that were used for installing the existing wiring, and available access to the project area.
Precaution: This is an extensive project that should be performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor and typically requires specifications in accordance with the local electric utility company or electric service provider.
Notice: Making any changes to the Home Electrical Panel should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

The Electricians Task of a Home Electrical Service Upgrade

  • Upgrading the main electrical service of a home is a great way to improve the electrical system and increase the capacity of the electrical circuits.
  • The process of upgrading the main panel will depending greatly on the condition of the existing panel and the number of electrical circuits.
  • The electrician must plan how to install the new panel and reinstall the existing circuit wiring and factor in the age of the home, the type of siding and how the new service will be fed with electrical service from the utility company.
  • As this question has stated, the utility company will disconnect the electrical service so the home will be without power and so will the job site.
  • After careful planning and preparations it is often possible for the electrician to complete the project by using only battery powered tools, however if regular power is required then the electrician will have a generator at the job site, or the electrician or homeowner may ask permission to run an extension cord to a neighbors home.

Planning for a Home Electrical Service Upgrade

  • Discuss with the homeowner the condition of the existing electrical service and if additional circuits are required.
  • Establish the size of the new electrical panel and the number of circuits.
  • Obtain a permit from the local building department.
  • Plan the service change with the homeowner and schedule with the utility company and the building department.
  • Obtain all the necessary materials and tools.
  • On the scheduled day begin the power down process with the homeowner.
  • The utility company disconnects the power.
  • The ground system is installed as required.
  • The electrician removes the old panel and installs the new panel.
  • The new panel is bonded top the ground system.
  • The circuit wiring is reinstalled.
  • The building department official performs an inspection, and tags the panel as approved and ready for power.
  • The electric utility company is notified or returns as scheduled to energize the new panel or make the electric panel hookup.
  • Electrical Tip
    • This process takes the better part of one day, however there may be prep work that can be done ahead of time, such as driving a ground rod and preparing the new service riser and cables.

More about Home Electrical Panel Upgrades

Basic House Wiring Circuits

House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers

  • This article looks at common 120 volt and 240 volt house wiring circuits and the circuit breakers that are installed identifying the types and amperage sizes used in most homes.

Electrical Panel Circuit Listing

Home Electrical Circuits

  • Electric Circuit Listing

  • The size of the home electrical service panel is designed by calculating the square footage of the home and factoring in the code requirements for the electrical circuits that are required.
  • Home Electrical Codes for Services

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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.


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