Have you ever considered that your switchboard may need upgrading? If not, you are not alone… but it is definitely something that needs your attention.
If this has you a little worried, there is no need to be – take a look at our Switchboard Upgrade Guide below and give Static Electrics master electricians a call on 1300 206 004 if you are on the Sunshine Coast and need any more information.
What exactly is a switchboard?
Every building with electricity has a switchboard, which is a central board that helps direct electricity around the property. Its main job is to send electrical current from the main supply to whatever area in your home or business that needs it e.g. when you turn on your bedroom light, your switchboard is the one who sends electricity to ensure your light turns on.
What is a switchboard upgrade?
A switchboard upgrade is when your current switchboard is upgraded to allow for more electrical current or to cater for a higher electrical demand.
Why would your switchboard need upgrading?
There is a range of reasons as to why your switchboard may need upgrading, but the big one is safety. If your switchboard isn’t the appropriate size or is too old, this can cause electrical overload or constant tripping, which are both safety hazards. If this is happening, or you don’t think your switchboard is acting like it should get an electrician in to complete switchboard testing to be sure. They will let you know if an upgrade is necessary and, if not, other suggestions to ensure the safety of you and those around you. A few other reasons that should prompt you to consider a switchboard upgrade include:
- Legislation: A lot of older switchboards are not compliant with current regulations and/or legislation.
- Smart Meters: A lot of smart meters require newer switchboards to work properly.
- Solar: If you want to install solar power in your home, a lot of solar systems require newer switchboards to run effectively.
- Safety Switches: Most newer switchboards have inbuilt safety switches, which makes them less of a shock risk as well as less of a fire risk.
- Fuses: As newer switchboards are more appropriately designed for electrical workloads that we experience now, as opposed to 10+ years ago, this results in less chance of your fuses blowing.
- Overload: As newer switchboards are designed for the increased electrical workloads of the modern home or workplace this results a reduced chance of your switchboard overloading.
- Tripping: Your upgraded switchboard is able to manage the electricity load much more effectively this results in less chance of your circuit breakers tripping.
With your switchboard being the crucial part of safe electrical currency flow, it is super important for it to be working effectively 100% of the time. Issues with your switchboard can have ongoing problems, from being a higher fire risk to your power cutting out on a regular basis, so keeping on top of your switchboard needs is key to electrical safety in a building.
How do you know if your switchboard needs upgrading?
There are a few signs and symptoms that you can look out for which suggest your switchboard may need an upgrade – as always if you are in any way unsure, speak to your electrician and get them to check it out:
- Age: How old is your home? If you are unsure, or your home is older than 20 years, it is a high possibility that your switchboard requires upgrading.
- Age of Wiring: How old is the wiring in your home? Again, if you are unsure, or your home is getting older, there is a high possibility that your switchboard requires upgrading. For reference, if your wiring is grey and/or black then it probably needs upgrading, whereas white wiring may suggest an upgrade isn’t necessary quite yet (but get your electrician to check).
- Overcrowded Wiring: If you look at your switchboard and think that the wiring looks overcrowded, it probably is. Have an electrician take a look.
- Power points: If you look at your power points and they seem weird in colour, or they are hot to touch, these are both signs that your switchboard may need upgrading.
- Fuses: If the fuses in your building are constantly blowing.
- Lighting: If you are finding that your lights are constantly flickering, this either means a light bulb is loose or the wiring in your switchboard is faulty (do not address this yourself!).
- Appliances: If your appliances are constantly tripping.
- Rewireable Fuses: If your switchboard has ceramic rewireable fuses, instead of circuit breakers, you need a switchboard upgrade ASAP. Rewireable fuses contain copper wire and are large safety hazard, so get an electrician in as soon as you can.
- Electric Shock: If you are experiencing an electric shock when a plug is inserted into a power point, your switchboard probably needs upgrading.
- Sparks: If your power points are sparking when a plug is inserted, this is a sign that your switchboard likely needs upgrading.
- Noises: Power should not be making any noise, so if you hear either buzzing or sizzling, this needs to be checked by a professional ASAP as this can be very dangerous.
This list is not exhaustive, so it is best to speak to your local electrician if anything is occurring that doesn’t seem right. It is better to check and find out it is fine, than find there is a dangerous electrical issue too late.
Who completes a switchboard upgrade?
First things first – a switchboard upgrade is not a DIY project for a Sunday afternoon! Switchboard upgrades must be completed by an appropriately licenced and qualified electrician. Completing any electrical work on your switchboard is dangerous and should only be completed by a professional – not just for safety, but also for insurance purposes. Additionally, electricians have all the right tools and equipment to complete the job properly the first time, which saves both time and money in the long term. Speak to our team at Static Electrics on 1300 206 004 if you need some help.
Are switchboard upgrades expensive?
The answer to this question is not a ‘one size fits all’ – there is a range of factors that can affect the cost of a switchboard upgrade including:
- Size: This is both the size of your current switchboard, as well as the size of the switchboard upgrade.
- Capacity: This refers to the current capacity of the new switchboard.
- Cabling: The amount of cabling required to complete the upgrade.
- Rewiring: Will your home need rewiring to complete the upgrade?
- Labour costs: Depending on the job at hand, the labour costs will vary.
There are other factors too that can affect the cost (e.g. if your home is already fully wired and ready for an upgrade, costs will likely remain quite low), however the above are the most common. That is why it is best to contact your local electrician and they will be able to take a look at your exact circumstances and provide you with an exact switchboard upgrade quote.
It is worth noting that a lot of homes choose to put off a switchboard upgrade as they feel it is too expensive (among other excuses). This is not the case though – the safety of you and those around you doesn’t have a price and a switchboard upgrade is actually an investment, not an expense. It is an investment in your safety and a way to avoid unnecessary problems like fire hazards and constantly tripping power, instead of a hit to your wallet.
Also, when you have an electrician completing your switchboard upgrade, have them check the overall health of the wiring. They may pick up on issues before they arise, or before they become difficult to manage, which helps in both the short and long term.
If you are on the Sunshine Coast or Brisbane northside and would like some further assistance with your switchboard upgrade, speak to our friendly team at Static Electrics on 0488 849 241, we would be happy to help.