Cost to Replace a Circuit Breaker Box

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Subject: Having a new breaker box put in

My breaker box is overloaded and was told it is a 32 and I would just need a bigger box,like something in the 40's. The electrician said it would be about $650 for parts and labor. Now this gentleman works for himself and I have a copy of his license and insurance card. Says he charges $35hr .Would I expect to pay more from a business to do this or would it be about the same?


Subject: Aluminum wire

Aluminum wire for main service entrance or for feeding your panel from the disconnect is excellent wire to use. It does need to be installed correctly using antioxidant paste to keep the wires from oxidizing. Also a torque wrench needs to be used to tighten the wire to proper torque. If it were not safe to use our Inspectors would not allow us to use it. I'm a licensed electrician and only use aluminum service entrance cable. You can use Ser, triplex, or quad depending on where your first point of disconnect is and the conditions to be installed. Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise, they would only be speaking from inexperience and fear.


Subject: FPE panels

What do readers (especially experienced electricians) think of the replacement breakers made by Connecticut Electric that replace FPE breakers?


Subject: FPE Breakers

I had that same thought! There are other breakers out there that actually do work properly and are not refurbished FPE breakers. Wouldn't they suffice instead of having to pull a permit and redoing the whole breaker panel. Wouldn't the homeowners insurance accept the new breakers?


Subject: fuse box repair

We have a house with a fuse box with a damaged socket. Until we can have the panel replaced with a breaker box, is there anywhere I can buy a replacement socket?


Subject: fuse

You can have a circuit replaced- Ive had to when someone overloaded a circuit by cracking the plug. The electrician was able to change it out and do some other stuff for a couple hundred dollars.

Naomi Pino

Subject: Replacing our electrical circuit board & meter

We recently had a little electrical fire which, Thank God, we were able to put it out. We have an electrician coming to replace the old circuit board as well as the outside meter. He is charging us 2600.00, and that is without changing any of the electrical outlets. We have a ranch style house, 4 bedrooms, full completed basement. The house is total electric. Is this a fair estimate of replacement, plus labor?

Yvette Hassell

Subject: curcuits and wiring

I am a relatively new home owner of a home built in the 60's. I recently had a fire and have learned that the wires used in the restoration were wrong. Will upgrading require damaging the walls and thus needing to be replace them? So confused and concerned. Thank you.


Subject: Upgrade panel

I will be upgrading the electrical panel in my home from 100 to 200 amps.
I plan to remodel my kitchen in the spring and I know this needs to be done now. I have estimates that are good and I just have to hire the electrician. My question is the electrician wants to use Triplex wire instead of copper wire. I was told that aluminum wire was not as good as copper. Do I use copper or allow Triplex wire? I don't want to make any mistakes and I don't want any aggrevation down the road. I can afford to pay some extra money to get copper. Thank you.


Subject: Aluminum wire

Aluminum wire for main service entrance or for feeding your panel from the disconnect is excellent wire to use. It does need to be installed correctly using antioxidant paste to keep the wires from oxidizing. Also a torque wrench needs to be used to tighten the wire to proper torque. If it were not safe to use our Inspectors would not allow us to use it. I'm a licensed electrician and only use aluminum service entrance cable. You can use Ser, triplex, or quad depending on where your first point of disconnect is and the conditions to be installed. Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise, they would only be speaking from inexperience and fear.


Subject: Don't use aluminum wire

I asked my uncle about this recently. He is a retired electrician and saw plenty in older construction. Over time aluminum wire shrinks and pulls away from the connections. That is why it is a fire hazard.


Subject: aluminum or copper

traditionaly, homes use copper wiring, but aluminum can be used too. this person must be able to get alum wiring at a cheaper cost, which can be a cheaper cost to you. however, if you want copper, and he/she wont do it, go somewhere else. also, make this person show you their competence from referral, or union card. Peersonally, I would tell this person NOT to use triplex UNLESS he's using it for a service drop only. as far as wiring throughout the interior of the home, copper is the norm.
I am an I.B.E.W. electrician.


Subject: aluminum vs copper

Ronnie, I had an electrician look at my panel just yesterday and he said, "Never use aluminum wire because it's dangerous, use only copper. He is a licensed electrician and works for a building company doing the electrical work.

electric sean

Subject: 16500 watts

16500 watts @ 240 volts is roughly 65 amps
@ 120 volts well over 100 amps
15 amps won't do much good......depending on job conditions this could cost 500-1000

James Figy
James Figy

Subject: How much for a panel?

Hey Tyrone, it depends on your home, how old the current wiring is, and if you're upgrading service too. To paraphrase the article, an electrician might charge you $500 up to $3,000 for the job. In 2014, Angie's List members said they paid an average price of $1,625. This price includes the panel itself, which costs a few hundred dollars, and labor by a licensed electrician. When it comes to something as important as your home's electrical system, you don't want anyone unqualified working on it. -James F., staff writer for Angie's List Magazine


Subject: Upgrade like Conrad said...

Would you rather have room for your electrical needs to grow or be stuck?
Electricity is cheap compared to gasoline and electric vehicles are on the move.
Be ready for them!


Subject: Va loan

Will va approve a loan with a federal pacific box?


Subject: Need a new panel

Well, we need to have some major electrical work done on our house. Last week, several of the electrical outlets in our living room suddenly stopped working and we couldn't get them to function again. We had a master electrician here this morning, hoping that it would be a fairly cheap and easy fix, but it's not. The electrician found bad connections at our service panel and the main service equipment is damaged to the point of needed to be totally replaced, so we're looking at an approximately $1000-$1300 job here, but it absolutely has to be done, and soon, especially since he found water in our service panel. We bought this house almost 7 years ago, but the electrician said that his problem definitely predates us purchasing it as the house was built in 1980. Our house isn't that big (approximately 1200 sq foot ranch home) and the electrician thinks that we can get away with a 100 amp panel. He doesn't think we absolutely need a 200 amp one. We have our homeowner's insurance company sending out another electrician on Monday to see if our insurance will cover it, but even if it does, we still have a $1000 deductible, so we're going to be paying regardless. Not cool at all. Sometimes being a homeowner sucks.

Conrad Eustis

Subject: Go with 200 amp panel

Except for a few areas of the country with high electric rates or bitter cold winters, heat pumps will be replacing gas furnaces, and gas water heaters to reduce the cost of heating. Often lower CO2 too!. Every A/C unit can be a heat pump for about $300 to $800 more so if you replace your A/C it makes sense in a lot of areas to go with heat pump. So besides adding heat pumps if add a plug-in electric vehicle then you need more capacity for that too. Soon heat pump dryers will be showing up.
The point is all of these loads are 240 volts and need extra capacity. So if you go to the expense to replace a panel it makes sense to be ready for the future with a 200 amp panel; they cost nearly the same as a 100 amp panel to buy and install. The extra expense comes from upgrading the utility supply to 200 amps, this could add another $500 to $1000.

Sharon Murray

Subject: Electric Cicuit Boxes Explained

Thanks. Just at a time when I want to move my electric circuit box from the full sized crawl space up into my living area. Now I have an idea of the cost involved. I have a small 806 sq. ft. home. I know, I know. I have had bedrooms bigger than my entire house. I needed to have an idea and this gave it to me.

Bob Kueny

Subject: FPE panels and breakers

Great and accurate information. As an Angie's List service provider we always encourage our customers to change out their Federal Pacific Electric panels. While we don't want to "scare" someone into making such a costly decision, neither do we want to fail to make them aware of a danger that could have catastrophic consequences if not addressed. Many people will tell us ," We've never even had to re-set a circuit breaker. So why should we change this?" Well the answer is in the definition of the term "latent fire hazard". While the breakers/panel may never actually catch on fire themselves, they are in fact responsible for fires because they fail to perform the the function they were designed to perform under the conditions they were intended to perform under. In short under conditions of over current,(a circuit using more electricity than it can safely use), or fault current,(typically referred to as a short), these circuit breakers have an unacceptably high percentage of not tripping, resulting in electrical fires at outlets, lighting, or appliances. This is why they are called a "latent fire hazard". We have seen many FPE breakers subjected to direct "shorts" and NEVER trip.
Here is an example of how the FPE breaker failure turns a small problem in to a disaster. Let's say a homeowner is using a small space heater to buffer against the cold in an area of the home and this additional electrical load results in an over current condition on that circuit, a reliable circuit breaker recognizes what is happening and turns the power off by "tripping", this allows the homeowner an opportunity to investigate what has happened before any damage is done. On the other hand the FPE breaker does not turn power off by "tripping", allowing the circuit wiring to reach a combustible temperature which ignites the wires, outlet, and surrounding area. As the fire burns it melts other wiring in the structure and since these are also "protected" by FPE circuit breakers they do not trip. When the insulation is burned away, resulting in a direct fault or short, the resulting arcing then spreads the fire more rapidly. This is why the Federal Pacific equipment is a deadly "latent" hazard.


Subject: FPElectric breakers

been in home over 34 years. I have FPE circuit breaker box. Has been triggered several times over the years. Installed a 200 line a few years ago. Noone advised me to change box at at that time. I can ill afford to spend on new system. What can I expect when I sell my home in a few more years? I have a large home with a rental unit (3 room apt) downstairs....Why does mine function properly? I am confused,


Subject: Federal Pacific Electric Breaker Panels

Is it all of the FPE panels or just the ones that have the Stab-Lok type breakers in them? The example they showed in an investigative video had a big screw in the middle of the panel. Thanks.

Carol Eaton

Subject: Breaker panel

I'm definitely going to replace my breaker panel because of this article. Thanks for the info,

Fort Worth Electricians

Subject: Electricians

It’s been great to read this article. Great information is given in this article. This is very helpful to the customers who search for good electrician.

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This can be maddening. Over the past 40+ years, in 4 houses, I have had or have run across this problem from gas meter leakage, water well pump column vibration, doorbell transformer, circulating pump, an extremely small (mist spray) water pipe leak, flourescent and sodium lights, security system horn dead battery, gas meter leaking slightly, bees in wall, bat colony, electric typewriter left on, stereo left on very low, and speaker inductive hum.

This seems to be a popular and recurrent question, so I am going to give the long answer for use by future questioners too.

I am assuming you do not hear this noise away from your house, or that other family members can hear it to. Obviously, if you hear it elsewhere also and other family members cannot hear it, then maybe you have tinninitus or are hearing your own high blood pressure blood flow (seriously). This commonly gets more acute at night when it is quiet, so all you are hearing is your internal ear sounds. I had this happen once because of a middle ear blockage - drove me crazy, getting up in the middle of the night because I thought I heard a water leak through the walls. Try putting on a pair of earmuffs or hearing protectors - if you still hear it or hear it louder, this is probably the case.

One method if hum is on the clearly audible side is make a 2 foot long cone out of paper to hold against your ear - like an antique hearing horn - then in each room face each of 4 directions while listening for where sound is the loudest, and turn your head to pinpoint the exact direction - I would spend 10 minutes doing this before getting into detailed stethoscope listening.

Otherwise, sounds like time for the old stethoscope (about $12 at a drug store - get a metal soundhead one, not cheap plastic, which does not pick up vibration as well). Also, if you are older (say over 35 or so) your hearing might have started to deteriorated with age, so if you have children or grandchildren with sharp hearing, they might be able to help track it down. I am sure a young child or grandchild, if you have one, would love this sort of treasure hunt (with appropriate "treasure" for a reward for tracking it down). 

Being careful not to come in contact with electricity with the stethoscope, check all the likely sources listed below. Start by placing it against pipes and walls and floor in each room of the house - water sourced noise goes a long ways, and tends to reverberate in the walls, so if that is the source likely to hear pretty easy. Hold stethoscope against bare pipes, both hot and cold, and heating system radiators or hot air vents.

If listening to water and hot water heating pipes indicates it is not water sourced, then you could turn off the master (outside) breaker or all the inside breakers and see if it goes away. I would only do this during above-freezing weather and early on a weekday, just in case a breaker fails to turn back on correctly when you switch it. Older master breakers particularly, which typically have never been used, sometimes break or fail to reclose properly after being shut off, so then have to be replaced. You want to be doing this at a time of day when, if necessary, you could get an electrician in the same day to replace it without paying weekend or nighttime emergency call rates.

If turning off the master breaker (or all other breakers) eliminates the hum, then turn them on one at a time until you find the one that turns the hum back on, then track where that circuit likely feeds (hopefully it is labelled) and check every switch, outlet, and light fixture.

Humming sources include (not in any particular order, a + in front means likely or common source of humming, - means rare or not likely):

1) + toilet fill valve - slightly leaking toilet inlet valve (listen where water tubing comes into toilet tank, and look inside tank to see if there is any water flow into or ripppling of the water in the tank or the bowl, or from the bowl filling tube (usually a small black plastic flexible tube which comes out of the fill valve (usually far left side of tank) and is clipped onto and discharges down into a hollow vertical brass or plastic tube or pipe in the toilet tank, which refills the toilet bowl after you flush)

2) + leaking faucet - kitchen, tub, shower, sink, utility tub, etc - it is amazing how just the smallest valve leak can make a hum or hiss that you can hear through the walls (especially at night), but only drips every few seconds.

3) - electric service meter dial motor

4) - electric breaker panel - rarely, a loose main power feed to a panel (especially with aluminum main service wire) will get loose enough that it vibrates back and forth and hums in its connector. A loose bus or snap-in breaker slot cover plate in the panel can also do this rarely

5) - gas meter or overpressure vent (unlikely, as you have had it replaced)

6) + boiling in the bottom of hot water heater or boiler because of buildup of lime, but would usually be intermittent - only when unit is heating

7) + furnace fan or electrostatic filter (forced air heat), or circulating pump (hot water baseboard heating), or steam condensate pump or overpressure venting (steam system).

8) - gas control valve or electric control box on a gas furnace, or its transformer (most have a 120V to 24, 16 or 12V transformer inside the front of the furnace

9) + air filter or electrostatic filter alarm on forced air furnace - some have a passive "whistle" opening that sounds softly when the filter is getting blocked, and if blocked with dust could make a hum rather than a whistle.

10) + Some water softener systems also have an "alarm" device to tell you it is time to service the unit, so check that if you have such a unit.

11) - a slightly leaking overpressure/overtemp valve on hot water heater or furnace (would be dripping)

12) - air venting from the air vents on hot water heating system. These will commonly make a hum or wheeze sound, for only for a few seconds at a time - not continuous unless leaking water

13) - city water system booster pump sound through the water column (if there is one near your home) - listen at the incoming water pipe - if much louder there than at other pipes within the house, that could be a house, though unlikely. If you think this could be it, find your water shutoff valve (typically 10' into your lawn from the street) and listen there. Would also be audible at neighbor's service pipe if that is the source.

14) - gas system compressor sound coming through gas pipe - listen to gas pipe outside the house and inside the house near furnace - if louder outside,, this could be a possible source, but the compressor or pressure reducer would have to be near your house. Would also be audible at neighbor's service pipe if that is the source.

15) + auxiliary booster circulating pump in your hot water or steam heating system (there may be one separate from the furnace, likely in the basement or a utility closet - most commonly found on  multi-unit apartment building with central heating and in 3 story or higher buildings, but you never know)

16) + a water leak, either inside or a leaking hose bib or pipe, or in your service pipe coming to the house

17) - electric on-demand water heater or electric-powered water filtration unit under the kitchen sink or inthe basement

18) + refrigerator compressor or fan hum

19) + doorbell transformer (front or back door - transformer is usually NOT at the doorbell, it is usually mounted in an open space like nailed to a basement joist, in an entry closet, or in the cubby space under the stairs - always physically near to the door, but NOT always on the same floor)

20) - any instant-on device like a TV

21) + any audio device (stereo, iPod, music player dock, computer, etc) that may have been left on at very low volume. Also, VERY rarely, if stereo or external speaker wires are run close to and parallel with an electric wire in the wall, they will acquire an  inductive voltage and hum.

22) + anything with a transformer, including stereo, add-on computer or iPod speakers, battery charger (rechargeable batteries or spare car battery or rider mower or boat battery charger), any portable electriconic device. Also portable device chargers (computer, iPod, cell phone, etc) - even if the device is not plugged into the transformer, as long as the transformer (charger) if plugged into an outlet, it is transforming high to low voltage, and transformers commonly hum

23) - electric typewriter left running

24) - electric ultrasonic cleaner or denture cleaner or electric toothbrush left on 

25) - home hair drying hood left on

26) - a lint buildup-jammed bathroom, kitchen, or attic fan. Many of these have, for safety, so called "self limiting" motors that if they jam just sit there and hum, but do not burn out.

27) - an attic cooling fan whose thermostat has failed, so is on all the time

28) - electronic furnace thermostat

29) + air conditioning unit, or aquxiliary air conditioner evaporator

30) + humidifier / dehumidifier - either permanently installed or portable

31) + portable heater / fan / air purifier

32) - automatic animal feeder waterer - either water supply or electric, as applicable

33) - dishwasher motor runningcontinuously - not shutting down after end of cycle

34) - convective or direct-vent oven or cooktop exhaust fan not shutting off

35) + flourescent (tube or CFL) or sodium or halogen light bulb / ballast hum (either inside, outside front door fixtures, or public street lights). These can hum quite pesistently when the starter circuit sticks on, or the bulb is dying and will not start (light completely), so the started circuit tries continually to start the lamp - can make a hum audible up to a block away on street lights.

36) - a dying electronic photocell designed to turn on your outside lights

37) - home security system, especially its alarm or horn. If the alarm is sounding but for some reason the main power is not getting to it, then as the battery goes dead (or if full voltage is not getting to it) is can give off a squeek, hum, or rasping sound - ditto if insects like wasps or hornets build a nest in it, so it cannot sound correctly.

38) + well pump, pressure tank, or filtration system, if you are on a well

39) + insect or bat nest in the attic or walls or in outside bins or cupboards, electric panel/meter, or outside telephone connection box (bees /wasps / hornets most likely) - though this usually varies by time of day, although it would "pulse" at the time of day when they are waking up or going to sleep.

40) + carpenter ants or termites - their continuous chewing of the wood can sound like a hum till you get right up against the colony, then you can actually hear the chewing

41) - a regional hum, as has been occurring at times in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Arkansas - where micro-seismic activity causes a hum or booming sound. Google or call your local paper and see if anyone has been reporting this in your area.

42) + outdoor power service transformer - either a metal (typically army green or gray) about 1 foot diameter "can" mounted on a power pole if you have overhead service, or a 2-3 foot cubic metal box on the ground or in a manhole pit near the street if you have underground service, which usually serves 4-6 houses (so may be in a neighbor's yard) and will have a voltage rating marked on it, usually in yellow stick-on lettering - like 4160V - 220V. Usually has high voltage - keep away safety markings on it.

43) - you have found where the Caddyshack gopher (who hummed to himself) moved to after Bill Murray blew up his happy home at the golf course.

Hope this list helps you (and future users with the same question).

Unless you feel uncomfortable doing minor repairs or don't understand that you should turn the electicity OFF before doing such can do the job yourself with a screwdriver and needle nose pliars...within 15 minutes. 5-10 minutes if you've done it before.

The amperage is the rated power it can handle. Modern houses are generally built with 200 amp panels, and a lot of the newer ones are going 300-350 amps as more and more electronic devices and fancy and high-demand kitchen devices and increased lighting are used in homes.

Both are just as safe - the 200 amp one will just have many more breaker slots, allowing way more circuits, and providing more room for expansion in the future, especially for power-hungry things like shop tools. Each uses only as much electricity as is used in the circuits - the panel itself does not consume any electricity, so no long-term impact there. It is just a circuit connection box where the individual circuits are connected, with circuit protectors (breakers) in line before it connects to the main line to your electric usage meter.

Unless you are real tight on money on this job, I would upgrade to 200 amps capacity - the incremental cost is about $100-200 or so over the 100 amp panel. If your incoming power line cannot handle 200 amps, you could install a 100 amp main breaker to keep the power company happy but put in the 200 amp breaker panel, so in the future a main line upgrade could be done with only a main disconnect breaker upgrade of $100 or so, without having to change anything inside the house.

Having the larger panel, especially if 200 amp capacity all the way from the meter, can be a selling point (or rather, lack of a negative point) to a potential buyer with lots of electronics or who is into shop power tools. It would also facilitate conversion to electric heat / water heating if someone wanted to do that.


As I understand it, you are looking at putting in a fan where there is no ceiling electric outlet. Since I am not sure, will try to break out piece by piece, undersanding these wouyld all be lumped into one job (possibly excluding wiring new outlet and switch). I hate to be so general, but access is the key here - if access is easy and there is a suitable light switch in the same room, cost can be at the low end of this range. If assess is poor and you don't want holes knocked in your drywall, then get more expensive real fast.

1) cost of fan typically $125-250 unless high end model

2) remove existing regular 4" box, install supports to joists and new box (ceiling fans need specially supported boxes due to the extra weight and swaying motion of the fans) $50-75

3) tap electric from existing circuit at existing box, upgrade existing light switch box to add one or two more switches (Adjustable for fan speed, 2nd for light, if so equipped), run wiring to ceiling fixture $125-250

4) put up fan, connect, test $75-100

So - total About $250-425 with no box there now, plus cost of fixture. A simple install to replace an existing fan, or install where the ceiling box was wired for a fan, would be only about $75-100.

This all assumes the existing nearby electric circuit can handle the addition of the fan - if not, then wiring cost will go up. It also assumes there is access via open attic or joists to install the wiring. Otherwise, installation cost OK but does NOT include repair to holes in drywall or ceiling to pull wiring.

Note also that an existing ceiling light box would probably NOT fill the bill - code in almost all jurisdictions requires 12 ga wire for fan motors, most household circuits are 14 or 16 gauge, so would need new wire pulled from a circuit with adequate capacity.

Get bids ! I worked on one job where the owner in a high-end house decided to put in fans with fancy candeliers underneath after construction was done - cost almost $3000 to do installation because all the wall and ceilings were finished in a high-end finish, so all wire pulling had to be done remotely - including removing siding to put in pull boxes at changes of direction and fasten conduit to studs. PLAN AHEAD !