The residential electrical switchboard is a key player in powering your home. In the modern world, where electricity demands are constantly evolving, ensuring your switchboard is up to date is even more important.
What is a switchboard?
The switchboard is basically the hub of your home’s electrical system. All circuits and wires running through your home meet at this central control point. Depending on the age and type of switchboard you have, it may include ceramic fuses, circuit breakers and other switches.
When new appliances or electrical devices are installed in your home, a new circuit is added to your switchboard, however this can be problematic when dealing with older switchboards. In addition, switchboards should include safety features that cease all power supply to an area in the event of an issue. This prevents fires and other damage, but older switchboards may not have these features.
Is it time to upgrade your switchboard?
It’s recommended that you should have your switchboard checked at least once every five years. You should even consider upgrading your switchboard every 20 years, considering how quickly our energy needs and household technology change.
Generally, if you’re having any electrical work done, your electrician will replace old fuses with safer circuit breakers. But this is a good sign that you should consider replacing the entire switchboard.
Also, if you notice fuses tripping out, this is a sign that an upgrade may be necessary. The same applies if your appliances are malfunctioning, but the power supply doesn’t trip out. This could be an indication that your current system is unsafe.
Why do you need to upgrade your switchboard?
There are several reasons you may consider upgrading your switchboard. We’ve touched on a few of these above, but let’s look at 10 reasons to upgrade your residential electrical switchboard.
- The switchboard is vital to your home’s power
Perhaps the most important reason to upgrade your switchboard is the fact that it’s vital to your home’s power supply. We use electricity for almost everything these days – internet connectivity, charging devices, streaming entertainment, laptops, not to mention all of the other electrical appliances in the home. Considering your switchboard’s importance, it should be upgraded if it doesn’t meet your current requirements.
- Stay up to date with safety requirements
Safety standards always change in Australia, so the rules 30 years ago are different than they are today. For example, residual current devices (RCDs) have been required in new homes since the early 2000s, but many old homes still don’t have them. Upgrade today to ensure your electrical system meets modern safety standards.
- Homes need more power
The reality is that homes draw far more power than they used to. With the plethora of new electrical appliances and devices, we need a lot more energy to support them. Old switchboards weren’t built to handle the types of electrical loads we see today, and therefore, they may no longer be fit for purpose.
- The risk of asbestos in your switchboard Many years ago, asbestos was used for the backing panels of some residential electrical switchboards. Asbestos is a potentially dangerous material used in construction for decades until the late 1980s. In fact, it’s use wasn’t outlawed until 2003. If your switchboard contains asbestos, it can pose a risk and should be replaced by experts.
- Ensure RCDs are installed A Residual Current Device (RCD) is a safety switch that prevents electrocution. Circuit breakers prevent short circuits and overloading, but people can still suffer harm unless RCDs are installed on your switchboard.
- Increased energy efficiency Modern switchboards are more capable of handling the demands of our households, offering improved energy efficiency. While not a blanket rule, it’s generally accepted that upgraded technology is more energy efficient.
- Prepare your home for solar energy
Old switchboards aren’t designed to handle things like solar panels and inverters, which is why a switchboard upgrade is required. If you want to make the switch to solar, you’ll need an upgraded switchboard to handle it. This is even more true if you intend to purchase an electric vehicle and charge it at home.
- Increased property value
The humble residential electrical switchboard might seem like a small thing, but an upgraded one can be a big selling point for buyers. It shows that the electrical system in the home is sound, leaving less chance of expensive repairs in the near future.
- More reliable power supply
If your old circuits are constantly tripping out or you’ve got lights flickering throughout the house, it might be a sign that you have an unreliable power supply. A switchboard upgrade often rectifies this problem, giving you more reliable power.
- Avoid overloading
As we mentioned, today’s homes have more electrical devices and power consumption than ever before. This can overload old switchboards because they weren’t manufactured to handle the energy loads required in the modern world.
What is the switchboard upgrade process?
Generally, the switchboard upgrade process involves replacing old ceramic fuses with modern circuit breakers and residual current devices (RCDs). An RCD is a switch that shuts off power to prevent electrocution, unlike a circuit breaker, which simply protects against overloading and short circuits.
First, though, we would need to remove all existing circuit protection, test and label all cables, and fix a new enclosure for safety switches. We then reconnect the cabling into your RCDs, and the job is basically done.
Depending on your home and existing switchboard, the process can be more complex, but we wouldn’t expect the process to take any more than a day unless major complications are discovered.
How long does a switchboard installation take?
Typically, you’ll find most electrical switchboard upgrade and repairs will take between 2-4 hours. Naturally, every home is different, so it depends on the existing system and whether your wiring is safe. Older homes often come with complications, but we can let you know how long the job will take after our initial inspection.
Is upgrading switchboard a legal requirement?
Generally, the answer is no. However, if you make modifications to your existing wiring. This can include adding new power outlets or major appliances. If you’re issued an electrical defect notice, you need to upgrade your switchboard to one that meets current Australian standards.
How much does it cost to upgrade a switchboard?
The cost really depends on the type of switchboard you install. Smaller switchboards can cost as little as $300 but larger ones can cost as much as $2,500. On top of that, you have the cost of labour, which can vary depending on the complexity of the job. That said, the standard electrical switchboard upgrade cost is between $900 - $1500 unless you want a larger switchboard with more capacity.
Whether you’re in Carindale, Chandler, Cannon Hill or anywhere else in Queensland, Sorted Electrical is your first choice for residential electrical switchboard upgrades. We can also help with all other household electrical needs, such as renovations, extensions, repairs, regular maintenance and wiring for new home builds. Contact us today to discuss your needs, and we’ll be happy to help.