Upgrading Electrical Panel 

Electrical Panel Upgrade Program

Your electrical service panel is a metal box, usually grey, mounted on the inside of an exterior wall of your home. You’ll typically find it in a basement, garage, or utility room, normally on the same wall where your exterior mast connects. This panel is where power from the grid enters your home and is split up into the various circuits necessary to power your outlets, lights, and appliances. Older homes often have panels that simply can’t meet the needs of a modern lifestyle—especially a greener lifestyle that relies on electric-based solutions. 

Why you should upgrade your panel

Older panels use inferior fuses instead of breakers
One of the purposes of an electrical panel is to prevent circuits from drawing more power than they’re safely able to—in other words, to prevent electrical fires. Older panels (installed in the 1960s and earlier) did this with fuses. Newer panels, installed from the mid-1960s on, protect circuits with circuit breakers instead. Circuit breakers are newer, better, more reliable technology. If you have an older fuse-based panel, you should consider a panel upgrade.

Older panels are often undersized for modern life
The electrical panel is what determines how much electricity can be used at any one time in your home. This is measured in amperes—or amps for short. Older, fuse-based panels typically supply either 30 amps or 60 amps to a home. Older circuit breaker panels often supply 100 amps to a home. The current standard for new homes and modern lifestyles is 200-amp or greater service. If your home has 100-amp service or less, you may want to consider a panel upgrade.

Older panels often show signs of not being up to the job
The best way to be sure your panel is safe and sufficient is to get the help of an electrician. They can calculate the demand of your home’s appliances and fixtures to see if your service meets the need. But there are other signs that a panel upgrade is a good idea. Flickering lights, corroded breaker switches, crackling noises in the panel, a warm panel, and frequent power surges are signs you should get an inspection and possibly upgrade your panel.

Older panels can’t handle the demands of electrification
Many Nova Scotians are embracing the benefits of going electric. They’re replacing inefficient oil or gas furnaces and gasoline powered cars, for example, with cleaner, more efficient electric alternatives like heat pumps and EVs. This is a great idea—but the additional power that electrification demands can exceed an older home’s electrical service. So for many people, this means a panel upgrade—to at least 200 amp service.


If you think your panel might need upgrading, we can help you find an approved electrician who can assess your power needs based on your future goals. If the result of the assessment suggests a panel upgrade, we can help you arrange the work. The upgrade can be done in one day, and it involves swapping out your outdated panel for a larger new one. The average cost, including parts and labour, is approximately $5,000. But once it’s done, you’ll be ready to take advantage of all the benefits electrification offers!

An electrical permit and inspection(s) are required when such alterations are made to your electrical system. Your contractor will be able to provide you this information or may also view these requirements by searching the Electrical Bulletins page on our website.

Where an upgrade in your service capacity is made (i.e. Changing from 100 amps to 200 amps), additional safety related requirements may be necessary. You may also learn more about these requirements by clicking the Electrical Bulletins link above and review NSPI Bulletin B-02-022.

Ready to upgrade?

The first step is to contact one of our preferred contractors. They’re available province-wide, will perform a home assessment that helps determine options that are best for your home, and they’ll supply a quote for the work. We recommend getting quotes from up to three different contractors.



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