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Switchboard Upgrades : The Guide With Everything You Need To Know

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.

Switchboard Upgrade

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 a call on 0429 139 039 if you 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 to flow through to a building.

Why would your switchboard need upgrading?

There are 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 overflows and 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 some 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 have you considering 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 are wanting to install solar 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 more appropriately designed for electrical workloads that we experience now, as opposed to 10+ years ago, this results in less chance of your switchboard overloading.
  • Tripping: 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 circuit breaker tripping.

With your switchboard being the crucial part of safe electrical currency flow, it is super important for it to be working at 100% at all 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 a professional and get them to check it out instead of doing it yourself:

  • Age: How old is your home? If you are unsure, or your home is getting older, 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, it is a high possibility that your switchboard requires upgrading. For reference, if your wiring is grey and/or black then it likely 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 and they can assist.
  • 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, this is a common sign that a switchboard upgrade is needed.
  • Lighting: If you are finding that your lights are constantly flickering, this either means a light bulb is loose, or loose wiring in your switchboard (do not address this yourself!).
  • Appliances: If your appliances are constantly tripping, this is a sign a switchboard upgrade is likely needed.
  • Rewireable Fuses: If your switchboard has rewireable fuses, instead of circuit breakers, you need a switchboard upgrade ASAP - rewireable fuses contain copper wire fuses, which are large safety hazards, 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, then find something 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 0429 139 039 if you need some help.

Are switchboard upgrades expensive?

The answer to this question is not a 'one size fits all' - there are a range of factors that alter 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 you would like to upgrade too (if applicable).
  • Capacity: This refers to both the current capacity of your switchboard, as well as the capacity you wish to upgrade too.
  • 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 effect 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.

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.

Static Electrics

If you would like some further assistance with your switchboard, speak to our friendly team at Static Electrics on 0429 139 039 and we would be happy to help!

Resources:

Hi Pages : https://hipages.com.au/article/how_much_does_it_cost_to_replace_a_switchboard

Build : http://www.build.com.au/switchboards-or-switch-boxes

Hunker : https://www.hunker.com/13401309/what-is-the-function-of-a-switchboard

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