Reasons to Consider a Switchboard Upgrade in Your Older Home

upgraded switchboard in Perth

As technology evolves and safety requirements change, switchboards can become outdated and unsafe.

Your switchboard plays a vital role in protecting your home and family from electrical faults or shocks, so it is important to consider a switchboard upgrade if yours is outdated.

Here, we’ll cover signs that your switchboard needs an upgrade and the benefits of upgrading your switchboard.

What Is a Switchboard Upgrade?

We often tell our customers to think of the switchboard as the brain of your home’s electrical wiring. From your fridge to your AC system to the lights, the switchboard dictates where the electricity goes throughout your house.

If the switchboard is malfunctioning, older, or faulty, your appliances, electronics, and lights may not function reliably. Worse yet, you may be at risk of electrical faults, electrical fire or electrocution.

A switchboard upgrade involves taking out the old fuse box and outdated wiring and installing a modern circuit breaker panel. This instantly increases the safety of your home, cuts your risk of electrical fires, & electrocution and helps optimise the function of any electrical appliances or components in your home

How Much Does a Switchboard Upgrade Cost?

Your switchboard upgrade cost will depend on numerous factors, including:

  • The switchboard’s capacity
  • If your home needs to be rewired
  • The cost of add-ons or additional steps, such as mains upgrades & condition of the mains earthing system

The best way to get an accurate estimate is to obtain a quote with a licensed electrician.

Do I Need to Upgrade Switchboard?

We get asked about switchboard upgrades quite often. Here are 14 signs you may need a switchboard upgrade.

  • An Older Switchboard – Normal wear and tear eventually degrades switchboard components. In general, we recommend scheduling an inspection with a licensed electrician if your switchboard is 20 years or older or if you aren’t sure when your switchboard was installed.
  • Flickering Lights – The cause of flickering lights may be as simple as a loose light bulb. However, flickering lights can also indicate underlying electrical issues. If you notice flickering lights and do not have any loose light bulbs, a licensed electrician should evaluate your switchboard. Flickering lights may indicate a switchboard that is outdated, damaged, or faulty light switches.
  • No Safety Switches – Safety switches are crucial for detecting electrical shorts. Without safety switches, you are at risk of electrocution or electrical fires. Even though safety switches are readily available and affordable, many Australian homes are lacking this protection. Western Australia’s Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation, and Safety requires that at least two safety switches are installed in all residences. If your home does not have safety switches, we recommend contacting a licensed electrician immediately.
  • Odd Noises or Smells – Odd sizzling or buzzing noises coming from outlets, light switch panels, or near lights are a possible sign you need a switchboard upgrade. Odd smells, especially burning smells, may indicate a melted or singed switchboard component. When in doubt, contact a licensed electrician to make sure your switchboard isn’t posing a fire hazard.
  • Short-Circuiting Appliances – Short-circuiting appliances may indicate an overloaded switchboard that needs to be upgraded.
  • Sparks or Shocks from Appliances – If an appliance sparks or gives you a mild shock when you plug it in, you may need a switchboard upgrade. Shocks from running appliances are an indicator of outdated safety switches or faulty grounding.
  • Failed Safety Switch Testing – Safety switches should be tested regularly to ensure they are functioning properly. If your safety switch fails when you do the push button test, you may need a switchboard upgrade.
  • Circuit Breakers Tripping or Blown Fuses – If your circuit breakers are tripping frequently without an apparent reason, it may be a result of an overloaded switchboard that can’t keep up with the electrical demands. Blown fuses are another sign your switchboard is struggling to keep up and may be overloaded.
  • Dangerous Materials

    Certain older switchboards were manufactured using dangerous materials such as porcelain and asbestos. Some older switchboards have backing panels that contain asbestos. If any work is done on the switchboard or if it is damaged, dangerous asbestos fibres can be released.

    Porcelain fuses in a switchboard are classed as a fire hazard due to their potential to create electrical arcing. This generates excessive heat and puts the switchboard at risk of catching on fire. Older ceramic fuses also pose safety concerns. Rewireable fuses are another warning sign. If your switchboard has rewireable fuses, contact a licensed electrician for a switchboard upgrade.

  • Non-Compliance with Updated Electrical Safety Requirements

    Australia regularly updates its energy safety standards, including switchboard upgrades. What may have been acceptable years ago is now deemed a fire hazard. Older switchboards often lack the protection measures that safeguard against electrical faults.

    As dedicated, licensed electricians, we stay up-to-date on all safety standards and compliance requirements. If you are unsure if your switchboard is compliant with current Australian Wiring Rules, safety standards, and local regulations, get in touch with our team.

  • Increased Electrical Demands

    Electrical systems are under greater demand than just a few decades ago. Modern homes have more electrical appliances and higher electrical needs. Older switchboards can struggle to keep up with the electrical demand, putting you at risk of overheating, overloaded circuits, and electrical fires.

    If you are installing something with a high electrical demand, such as a new air conditioning system or a heated pool, contact a licensed electrician. An electrician will determine if your current switchboard can handle the increased demand or if you need an upgraded switchboard.

close up of a homes switchboard

Reasons to Upgrade Your Switchboard

Potential benefits of upgrading a switchboard include:

  • Increased reliability for electrical appliances, A/C systems, and other electrical needs
  • Improved safety
  • Reduced electrical fire risk
  • Decreased chance of fuses blowing as a result of overloading
  • Protection against electrical shocks and electrocution
  • Potential for reduced energy costs by increasing the efficiency of breakers and decreasing energy wastage
  • Compliance with current Australian electrical standards and local regulations
  • Lower risk of frequent circuit breaker tripping

Does Putting in New Appliances Require a Switchboard Upgrade?

An older switchboard is at a high risk of getting overloaded by modern appliances. If you are installing new electrical appliances, a heated pool, a new AC system, or a new solar system, we recommend consulting a licensed electrician to see if you need a switchboard upgrade.

Wondering If You Need a Switchboard Upgrade?

Keeping your switchboard compliant with current safety standards is an important way to keep your home and family safe. A switchboard upgrade can also optimise electrical appliance performance and ensure reliability.

If you aren’t sure if you need a switchboard upgrade, Our licensed, experienced electricians can inspect your switchboard wiring. We’ll determine if repairs or upgrades are required and make sure it is compliant with all current and local safety standards.

Whether you have concerns about your switchboard or are interested in new electrical circuits or wiring, safety switches, smoke alarm installation, or LED lighting installation, our team at Limelight Electrix offers comprehensive residential electrical services.

Our licensed technicians offer free on-site consultation and quotes and are dedicated to helping you enjoy the peace of mind that comes with an upgraded switchboard. Contact us with questions or to book your free consultation and quote.

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