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Electricity from an energy provider flows into homes through their circuit breaker or fuse box. These critical junctures in the home act as traffic cops for all of the different circuits in a home and make sure that no circuit is overloaded. The panel shuts down a specific circuit if it becomes overloaded. Circuit breaker panels are more common these days than fuse boxes, which are typically found in older homes. Some experts recommend that homeowners stick with they type of juncture that they already have when making updates, and others say fuse boxes should be replaced with circuit breakers wherever possible. A licensed electrician is needed to properly and safely install one of these panels. Costs depend on amperage, labor, the number of circuits, permits and possible upgrades to the home’s existing electrical system.

Amperage

The more amperage a circuit breaker or fuse box holds, the higher the cost. Typical amperages are 100, 150, 200 and 400 amps. It’s not necessarily true that homeowners should go with the highest-capacity amperage. Many homes can be served just fine by a 100-amp box. The cost of the panel itself is typically about 30 percent of the total cost for the installation. Homeowners can either purchase their own panel or purchase it through the electrician.

Labor

Labor makes up the lion’s share of the cost to install a new circuit breaker or fuse box. Many electricians charge by the hour, and this type of work requires several hours, sometimes even an entire business day. Other electricians charge a flat fee for labor. Labor costs around the country vary. According to Hawkins Electric Service of Laurel, Maryland, a typical electrical panel installation costs approximately $2,000.

Circuits

The more circuits in the panel, the more expensive the circuit breaker or fuse box. Some larger homes require subpanels, which cost extra but not as much as the main circuit breaker or fuse box.

Existing electrical system upgrades

A new circuit breaker or fuse box won’t be as effective if the rest of the house isn’t up to its standards. Sometimes the home’s electrical wiring, outlets and fixtures must be upgraded to handle the new circuit breaker or fuse box. This job will add significant expense.

Other materials

Electricians will charge a minimal fee for accessory materials such as fittings, fasteners and connectors. If the replacement panel doesn’t fit the existing box, a retrofit and new box will cost extra.

Permits

A permit is often required by the local municipality for an electrician to perform this installation. Costs of these permits vary across the nation.

Cost-saving strategies

Only acquire a panel that has the amperage capacity that you really need. Create as much space as possible around the work area before the electrician arrives to save some labor time.

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