The electric panel is the heart of your Coquitlam home, and it requires regular “ECG” checks and maintenance. (Get it??)

If you have never had your electrical panel serviced, you might be surprised to know that there may be some hidden issues that could cause fire hazards.

When our trained and certified electrical professionals inspect your electrical panel, we look for signs of scorching, melted wire, loose connections, overloaded circuits and even rust which indicate damage. In a rusting electrical connection situation, this could require replacing your Coquitlam electrical panel.

We need to understand that all equipment has a lifecycle and building service equipment such as electrical panels have a life cycle too. They become unsafe, unserviceable, replacement parts non-existent, or non-compliant. Then in some situations electrical panels or their components are deemed unsafe by the electrical safety association and these systems need to be replaced immediately.

The next most relevant factor for panel replacement is increased power requirements. You may ask, what does this mean? Put simply, “lifestyle” requirements” are driving consumers to add new generation appliances, fridges, microwaves, air conditioners, saunas, pools, décor lighting and the list goes on. The escalating offering of new devices is erupting the increase in power needs. 

All these factors combined contribute to the necessity for panel maintenance and upgrades.

What is an Electrical Distribution Panel?

The electrical panel distributes power throughout your house, through breakers, and distribution wires. All appliances and power outlets are controlled by a breaker or fuse within the panel that ensures the needed power is supplied safely to every circuit.

An example of a new electrical panel. Existing panel may vary in size, but have similar aspects.

How Does Upgrading An Electrical Panel Increase Property Value?

We think about the future every time we decide to spend money on our home or facility project.

  1. Does this investment increase property value?
  2. Does this investment provide the safety and satisfaction we expect?

An electrical distribution panel that has reached the end of its lifecycle and needs to be replaced.

When upgrading the building electrical panel it will not only solidify the sale value of your home, more importantly it will increase your family’s safety. When installing a new electrical panel the bonus is it will enable you to add all the new appliances and devices you want while delivering both comfort and added protection.

Economically it makes sense to upgrade your home electric panel. Maintaining older equipment means safety concerns, also the risk of being denied insurance. increased insurance risk rate, or worse yet an insurance claim.

What’s The Difference Between a Fuse Panel and a Breaker Panel?

If your electrical panel has screw in type fuses and you intend on keeping the home, we recommend you upgrade it to a new breaker type panel. Fuse panels are a potential fire hazard as oversized fuses can be installed easily by homeowners, bigger isn’t better.

As mentioned previously the fuse/breaker size needs to align with the wire size to prevent overheating or a potential fire. For example, If the wire size is #14 The fuse size can be no greater than 15 amps. If you have a fuse panel consider replacement as soon as possible.

Electrical fuses and electrical breakers are not intended to protect the devices we plug in or connect! They are over current protection for the WIRE only. 

wrong breaker = hot wire = fire

Breaker failure with evident overheating, creating a potential fire hazard. THIS IS ACTUALLY A PICTURE PTX TECHNICIAN FOUND A PROPERTY.

Electrical Panel Construction

Most electrical panels are constructed out of metal and are square or elongated in shape. The panel’s main function is to distribute electricity through controlled circuits that effectively manage power distribution throughout the living area. 

Because the panel box and the interior components are constructed of metal, damp or wet environments can pose significant risk. Damp environments cause rust, and rust results in panel and breaker failure. Secondly water can infiltrate your panel through faulty conduit, lack of duct seal or insulation/vapour barrier failure. When we inspect your electrical panel, we don’t miss anything, we take pictures so you can see all our action steps.

Electrical panel moisture and Electrical panel moisture and condensation damage-causing rust which causes faulty connections and potential fire hazard.

Water damage caused the main buzz bar and breaker failure.

Electric Panel Sizing

For most homes or businesses, the more equipment/appliances we get, the more power we require. BC Electrical Code helps us to determine the panel and wire size required to provide safe and adequate power to meet all your needs. When we inspect a home or facility, we will analyse the existing load to determine the future load requirements and design a system that meets these requirements. All load calculations must follow the local CEC Code requirements according to Section 8 and municipal amendments.


The circuit breakers in the panel protects the wire from distributing more power than is permitted by code based on the wire size. This technology prevents circuits from overloading and potential electrical fire. The breaker is a critical component to the safety of the system and as a result should be inspected periodically to ensure there are no loose connections or faulty equipment.

A new electrical panel installation, awaiting final touches by our handyman services.

You will commonly see GFCI, AFCI, and double breakers. These each have a specific use and should be selected, installed and maintained by a qualified electrician.


Rewiring a house is not as common, but with older homes or businesses it may be required. The main wiring types that demand replacement are knob and tube, aluminium, or non-grounded wiring. Houses or businesses that have reoccurring fuse or breaker tripping is usually a result of additional load from circuit extension, thus additional circuit breakers and wiring need to be added to solve the problem.

A loose wire connection will eventually cause electrical breaker failure.

Main Breaker Replacement

The purpose of the main circuit breaker is to shut the electricity off to the entire electrical panel. When you switch the breaker off, power to the house or building is disconnected. This is usually done so work can be performed within the electrical panel itself and not for general electrical repairs in the building.

Main breaker disconnect.

Secondary breakers can be switched off, as required. If the main breaker is faulty it can trip leaving the facility without power. If this occurs, the simplest remedy is to replace the breaker with a new one. The cost of a new Main circuit breaker can range between 450 – 800 dollars.

Do You Have a Fused Disconnect and Electrical Panel?

Project cost of this type varies based upon the approach. If you replace just the breaker panel and keep the old fused disconnect it could be more economical. However, because you maintained the old disconnect it could fail in the future and it will need to be replaced at some point.

A Fuse disconnect and an electrical breaker panel. The panel is too small to accommodate modern-day requirements. Replacement of this system is recommended to install a new combo panel.

If you proceed with the above scenario the panel capacity must match the disconnect max fuse size. For example: If the manual disconnect is 100 amps the new panel cannot be greater than 100 amps.

If you replace the disconnect with a new combo electrical panel, it will be more costly, but you will have the flexibility to increase to a higher capacity service which will be able to accommodate all your future needs. When we consider the difference in cost a new combo panel is the better choice and much more dependable.

What is involved in an Electrical Panel Upgrade?

When an electrician replaces the panel, it should include new breakers and disconnects. In most situations the size and shape of the new panel will not be identical to the existing panel and will require some wiring adjustments. In many cases drywall will need to be adjusted and new support backer board and insulation installed to prevent condensation. 

When the electrical panel is upgraded, BC code requires that a buried grounding system be installed on the exterior of the house. The grounding system is installed below grade and can consist of two metal ground rods or a copper grounding plate. In some cases the Meter Base will need to be replaced along with all the connecting conduit if the piping is not rated for the required wire size.

An old distribution panel replacement with a new electrical service.

Electrical Panel Installation Process

  1. Call a licensed electrical contractor. Site assessment and budget planning
  2. Upon project approval: Deposit normally required.
  3. Contractor sources a permit from the local electrical authority.  This process takes: 1 – 2 weeks in Lower Mainland
  4. Contractor contacts Hydro Civil and the Hydro connection team to plan your upgrade next steps.
  5. If Civil work is required for your site, expect a 2-4 week added to the schedule.
  6. Contractor works with Hydro for a scheduled connection. A two week connection approval, hydro requirement.
  7. Contractors install a new ground plate, and cuts back drywall for labelling wires.
  8. PTX will Install a temporary generator on disconnection day to keep important items running.
  9. Contractor and Hydro work together to disconnect property from the grid. Expect property to be without power for 6-9 hours.
  10. Electrical circuits are tested and labelled and the final connection is inspected by the local electrical authority.
  11. Hydro reconnects electrical service to the grid.
  12. PTX Handyman team will arrive within a week to repair drywall, concrete and or other items affected by the electrical installation process.
  13. Final payment is received and we work together again in the future 🙂

It’ll take a minimum of 16 hours for an electrician on site to replace a standard 200-amp electrical panel. The job requires a new panel complete with a primary breaker, multiple circuit breakers, plus meliaceous materials.

A significant percentage of the cost for your new electrical panel is not only material. it’s labour as well. All electrical panel upgrades and new panel installations must have a final inspection by BC Electrical Safety Association “It’s the law”

So, Is It Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Panel Service?

Electric panels should be replaced every 30-40 years. If you have been living in the same house this long and have not upgraded the panel once, it means you’re due for an upgrade. In most cases the panel will be undersized based upon today’s safety needs. Within the last 40 years, 60-100 amp breaker panels and screw type fuse panels were commonly installed. If this is your case, time has caught up to you. 

It’s also important to be aware of other signs that let you know when your current system needs updating. Here are a few things to think about when upgrading your electrical panel:

1. Faulty Wiring

The most common cause of fires in North American homes is faulty electrical systems and wiring. The older your system is, the more likely faulty connections will exist.

Improper wire termination in an electrical panel. No wire connector was installed, creating the potential for a short circuit. This type of installation is not according to Electrical Code.

Have you noticed any issue with the wiring on your electrical system? The following conditions may indicate the need to inspect your system:

  • Breakers tripping regularly
  • Devices burning out quickly
  • Having to change bulbs frequently
  • Flickering lights
  • Plastic or rubber burning smell
  • Warm temperature around or on the surface of the electrical receptacle, switch or panel cover
  • Lights or devices dimming unexpectedly (If this is occurring now, stop everything and call an electrical contractor!)

2. New Appliance(s)

Consider upgrading the electrical panel if you’re bringing in new appliances, especially if it’s an energy guzzler like a central AC unit, instant water heater, spa pool, hot tub, sauna, and or electric car charger or baseboard heat.

Remember an old electrical panel is ill-equipped to handle modern appliances and is likely undersized.

If you try to install additional appliances in older systems in most instances these panels will have no spare breaker space. If that is the case, the panel is undersized and needs to be upgraded.

Even if there is spare space for additional breakers the overall amperage capacity of the panel may already be maxed out. This is another reason a professional electrician should inspect to determine load calculation.

If you notice that multiple circuit breakers constantly trip, It’s a telltale sign that the circuits may be overloaded, breaker weak, or the panel defective. This occurrence poses a serious safety hazard and a PTX Electrician should be called immediately.

If you are planning a renovation or major facility improvement you should consider replacing your panel before this major work starts. Your new design will most likely be adding additional circuits and appliances? So, it’s time to upgrade your panel as well. This would be a great opportunity to do this work. The Right Time, drives efficiency and reduces cost.

3. Circuit Breakers vs Fuses

Circuit breakers are the modern version of outdated fuses. A breaker is designed to trip if the current draw exceeds the breaker set point. When this occurs the flow of power to the circuit is cut. The beauty of a breaker is they are designed for manual reset and have a long lifespan.

Both a fuse and a breaker is a control device that can stop the flow of power if the current exceeds the devices designed set point. As a result a breaker is an essential  component of an electrical panel.

The difference between a fuse and breaker is a fuse is meant for a one-time use. When a fuse trips a thin bimetal strip within the fuse melts breaking the current flow, as a result the fuse must be replaced with a new fuse, with a similar amperage rating. Oversizing a fuse is very dangerous and creates a fire hazard.

If you still have a fuse panel in your home, it is due for an upgrade. Some home insurance companies refuse to insure homes with fused panels and in some cases it’s been used as a reason to deny claims.

Cartridge-type fuses

Once a fuse panel starts to fail, there’s no other option but to replace it. The reason is simple: fuse panels are known for busbar failure and as a result loose fuse connectivity. Once the busbars corrode and warp, they become a fire hazard and replacement is recommended.

How Much Does An Electrical Panel Cost?: Electrical Panel Upgrade Budget Guidelines, Lower Mainland BC, 2022

To upgrade to a new 100 – 200 amp please panel see sample costs below. Accurate budgets will require a site visit, final costs will vary based on-site conditions.

Upgrade 100 amp electrical panel:

  • 100 amp upgrade ~ $3,100 – $4,400
  • Handyman repair work included in this cost and performed by our team
  • Permit ~ $350
  • Hydro fees ~ $400

Wire above ground from hydro:

  • Electrical Panel Upgrade to 200amp ~ $4,000 – $6,800
  • Handyman repair work included in this cost and performed by our team
  • Permit ~ $550
  • Hydro fees ~ $1,000

Wire underground from hydro with existing 3” duct.

  • Electrical Panel Upgrade to 200amp ~ $4,800 – $7,200
  • Handyman repair work included in this cost and performed by our team
  • Permit ~ $550
  • Hydro fees ~ $1,300

Wire underground from hydro 2” duct:

  • Electrical Panel upgrade to 200amp ~ $4,800 – $7,200
  • Handyman repair work included in this cost and performed by our team
  • Trenching and duct to Hydro ~ $3,200 – $5,500
  • Permit ~ $550
  • Hydro fees ~ $1,350

If you request an additional receptacle circuit installed while we are onsite, our qualified electrician could add it for as little as 200 dollars a circuit, depending upon the length of run and wire size.


Conclusion: Electric Panel Replacement

Inspection and Maintenance of your electrical system is essential to life-cycle and long term performance. Regular inspections will not only preserve your existing system, but give you the heads up when repairs are required or the system is at the end of life. 

PTX Electric guarantees ‘Service by Integrity”. Our value is quantified through accurate information, precise and detailed pricing, delivered through quality service and customer experience. Give us a call and we would be happy to help upgrade your electric panel.