When Do Home Electrification Retrofits Require Electric Panel Upgrades?

electrical panel on wall

If you’re interested in electrifying your house, you probably have a checklist of systems, appliances, and other upgrades you want to make.

Heating and cooling? … Check!

Water heater? … Check!

ENERGY STAR appliances? … Check! Check! Check!

But wait—in all the excitement of going green at home and ditching fossil fuels, it’s important to keep track of the added electrical load, because you may need to upgrade your electric panel. Today, let’s talk about how home electrification upgrades can affect your electric panel, and how to find a qualified contractor to help you make the switch the right way.

How Much Electrical Capacity Does Your Home Currently Have?

Before you make any electrification upgrades to your home, it’s important to know the amp capacity of your current electrical panel. This will determine how much power your home is able to safely use. Many modern homes have 200 amp panels, but it’s not unusual—especially for older homes—to see 100 amp units.

Not long ago, this would have been plenty for the average family. But today, as we move further away from combustion-fuel HVAC systems, water heaters, and stovetops, the average home will need more electricity, even if these more efficient upgrades lower the overall energy use of a home.

What Electrification Upgrades Will Require the Most Electricity?

Space heating and air conditioning

Heating and cooling account for more than 50% of the average home’s energy use, so if you’re upgrading from a gas or oil furnace or boiler to ducted heat pumps or ductless mini-splits, you can expect to see a significant increase in your home’s electricity load, even though you’ll be using less (and cleaner!) energy.

Hot water heating

Water heaters are the second largest energy consumer in your home, so if you’re upgrading to a heat pump hot water heater to save money and avoid burning fossil fuels, keep in mind the added electricity you’ll need to run it.

Solar PV panels

Installing solar panels reduces the amount of grid electricity your home uses, but the power your solar panels generate needs to run through your electric panel, and it could be too much electricity for a smaller-sized panel to handle.

Other home electrification upgrades that would likely require your home to have additional electrical capacity include:

Trying to calculate everything you need as you upgrade to an all-electric home can be confusing. A qualified electrification contractor will take into account the additional electrical load your home will require and walk you through possible solutions. If your electric panel is too small, include upgrading your electrical panel and reducing your home’s overall energy use through energy-efficient home performance upgrades like insulation and air sealing. You might be able to reduce your energy loads through energy efficient upgrades and reduce the need for a new panel upgrade altogether. A qualified contractor can discuss the best solutions for you.

Finding the Right Electrification Contractor for Your Home

Not only is it important to work with a company that is familiar with common electrification upgrades like heat pump or electric vehicle charger installation, but you also need someone who knows how to handle electrical panel upgrades, so you aren’t left scrambling to find a separate electrician at the last minute.

The Clean Energy Connection makes finding vetted and trustworthy electrification contractors in California easy! Homeowners use our free online directory to quickly find licensed local contractors throughout the state. You can filter results by location, rebates, and even services provided, to ensure that you’ll be able to find a contractor who offers everything you need for your green living upgrades.

Electrify your home the right way.