Electrical panel upgrade cost? Please share.

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    My husband and I bought our 1944 house 2.5 years ago. We knew at inspection that the electrical is mostly original, save the addition off the back. The inspector told us the panel needs to be upgraded to support modern needs.

    Fast forward to now, when we’re finally getting around to looking into the project. Based on WSB and Angie’s List recommendations, I contacted Mister Sparky (formerly Eagle Electric) to bid on the job. Total including city permitting, inspection, and tax is ~$5600. This is for a full copper panel, copper wiring, bonding with water line, and some exterior grounding. (I left the bid with the details at home, so this is from memory.) Current service is 100 amps, and this would be an increase to 200. No rewiring in this bid (we will need to rewire, but will do so down the line with a remodeling project).

    ANYWAY, all of that to say, if you’ve had a panel upgrade done in Seattle in the last few years, what did it cost you? Were you happy with the results? Did they use all copper, or aluminum, or a mixture? Is $5600 crazy? :-)

    Please feel free to post any recommendations here, if you have them!



    I will heartily endorse the electricians at Washington Electric. Professional, prompt, good price, and absolutely will hire again when/if we need electric work.




    I’ve replaced two panels. One about four years ago -ran about $3k and recently just had one done this summer for $4500.



    Sarah – this is NOT a professional opinion of ANY kind – God forbid, my house could have an electrical fire at any moment, or yours, but I have to say it …

    We heard the same thing when we bought our 1941-built bungalow. We had some minor electrical work done – converting some of the 2-prong outlets to three (whew! glad we had the foresight!) – and the electrician, whose name and company name I have long since forgotten, took one look at our panel and said, “Whoo-boy! You should get that replaced. Haven’t seen one like that in a LONG time.”

    That was 21 years ago.

    Only problem we have is that every so often one breaker gets thrown when we have my computer, our son’s computer, a few other appliances and .. inexplicably, the camel’s-back-breaking-straw is always … the iron, plugged in (the same circuit spans the front bedroom, living room, “dining area”).

    I’d love to hear what it is about a panel that costs so much, especially if that does NOT even involve rewiring!




    TR, I keep waffling between, “Well, no problems so far!” and “Oh crap, we’re bound to have a house fire any day now!” With a young toddler in the house now, and remodeling plans in our future, I *think* we’re going to bite the bullet, but I’ll admit the price shocked me a bit. We may not proceed right away. Honestly, what bugs me the most about our current electrical situation is the dearth of outlets! Two outlets in a living room may have been sufficient in ’44; not so much anymore.

    Parentof2 and Breezy, thanks for your input! Po2, your numbers aren’t horribly off from our bid. Did that $4500 include tax and city permitting (if applicable)?



    I have no idea if that price is reasonable or not. I wouldn’t mind some electrical work at our house, but we’ve gotten along without it.

    however, I would recommend getting a couple more quotes if you can, from some other recommended electricians. each time we’ve gotten quotes on work (a new roof, new gutters/downspouts/ tree removal etc,) we get about 3 quotes from different places.

    I don’t know, maybe you did already.



    no one has enough information of your particular situation (without seeing it and all the peripheral issues. I would say your bid is on the high end probably due to some specific issues with your panel.

    i really only wanted to add that an electrical fire is not even close to the only issue you risk with a 60+ year old electrical panel. Electrocution of your precious offspring would be much farther up the list. there are many many code and equipment improvements over the years in terms of safety.



    Master Electrician and former Project Manager here, saying that you should be sure to get at least 3 bids and make sure that you’re getting comparable services and equipment in each price. Just changing out a panel should cost <$5000. And that includes bringing grounding and bonding up to code.

    Keep in mind that many residential electrical contractors bet on having clients that are not familiar with what these services should cost, are willing to pad their costs and service changes are a cash cow. Also, I say this sight unseen. There are some requirements that have changed in the last few Code revisions that do raise the cost. Also, know that a copper bus 200 amp single phase panel and a typical list of breakers is not terribly expensive.

    If you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them.



    I bought my 1950’s house 3 years ago. The house had 4 circuits to run the whole house and a “Zinsko” type panel, which I was told was a fire hazard. We got the sellers to kick in $3000 for upgrades as part of the post-inspection deal. The new panel was ~$1800. The rest bought us new wiring in the kitchen (2 grounded outlets), one new circuit in the living room (one grounded outlet), and replacement of 2 prong for 3 prong outlets (not grounded) in two other rooms. The panel is a large one and can accommodate many more circuits–we later had the garage wired. I can’t remember the company that did it, but I feel I got a lot for the money. I would get a few more estimates too.



    From someone who has had an electrical fire, if you have a Zinsco panel, I highly recommend you get it replaced. There are known problems with them and they can be extremely dangerous.

    The last panel upgrade I had done 2 years ago was under $2000.



    @ Mark47n – regarding upgrading electrical.

    You still practising and in business? Care to give us a bid?

    Or recommend a good electrician?

    montanapup at gmail




    I just reread this thread and I can say that the labor involved in a service upgrade is pretty extensive, the permitting and materials aren’t terribly expensive, but I say that when I’m looking at breakers that cost thousands of dollars apiece…for just a breaker.

    When it comes to material there is no reason to avoid aluminum in NEW equipment. aluminum has a bad reputation based on it’s use back in the 50’s and into the 70’s. It was a different material that what comprises modern aluminum conductors now. Also, the use of aluminum conductors now is generally restricted to larger wires, like the ones that feed your new panel and are common in new construction, commercial services and underground feeders for residential use as well as the feeders for ranges and other larger residential loads. Also, the new aluminum bus panels aren’t like the old ones for the same reasons.

    Copper conductors cost considerably more as do copper bus panels. I’ve installed both and, as long as everything is properly installed, I’ve not had any issues with aluminum in the last 18 years vs copper.

    I’m not a contractor but, again I’ve been a service truck electrician, foreman, superintendent and PM before I went back to working at Nucor. I would suggest Keithly Electric, Kemly Electric or Westside Electric (local and the did the High Strike Grill, but I’m not positive of the name).



    I just did a major remodel with relocated mast, many new outlets, upgraded breakers, etc.

    They quoted me a panel upgrade at the time – although they stopped short of a recommendation for replacement, which I’m glad they did because it added to their credibility. My older but functional panel didn’t need replacement.

    It would have only run another $1800 total if I had it done with the other work that was being done. That might be indicative of the points mark47 was suggesting.

    I should also add that I got three estimates before I selected the vendor – Reputable Electric – who wasn’t the cheapest but it worked out ok because I got a fair amount of individual service as we went through the evolving process.

    Of those three estimates, it wasn’t always easy to make apples to apples comparisons. Each estimate broke out the parts differently and the labor as well. I definitely had to do follow up with each to confirm exactly what they were spec’ing and how they intended to execute the work. There’s LOTS of room for them to hide costs or institute add on charges once they get working. Be diligent and direct.

    In short, I expect that bid of yours is higher than necessary.



    You might call Jim Fullwiler at Alki Electric. He has a lot of experience with the houses in the area and will be happy to provide some information.





    There shouldn’t be “extra” costs in the estimate. If you’re upgrading from a 100A service to a new 200A service the things that should be on the estimate, are a new 200 amp meter can, new 200 amp panel with a 200 amp main breaker, lot’s of breaker (I can’t give you a approximate count due to not seeing existing service) a new mast and associated supports, new service conductors, some new grounding and bonding permitting, misc materials, and a whole lot of labor, probably around 15-20 man-hours between demolition and installation, but I’m really just throwing a guess at the labor.

    Things that will affect the cost dramatically are things like the location of the panel (indoors or out) how high the mast has to be from the meter, how far the panel is from the meter, the type of material used for the service conductors, etc.

    Service upgrades are expensive, no two ways about it.



    Just a quick and dirty material cost for a service change from 100A to 200A, based on end book pricing, markup and excluding labor comes to $1600. This is ONLY material.



    Good to know on a ballpark. We’re looking at 4K for upgrade on the panel from 100 to 200, a few new outlets, bringing to code a few things.

    This doesnt include changing up the knob and tube. Looking for the estimate on that now – I’m guessing it will be a good 5K – 7K now. with everything else. We thought we could just wait but the insurance company says no way.




    Just got a quote for upgrading the Zinsco 100 amp panel-of-fiery-death in our new home, a 1961 rambler in the Admiral area. To replace this panel with a new 100 amp panel would be $1545, parts/labor/permit/ inclusive

    To upgrade to 200 amp service with a new panel, meter socket and 2″ rigid mast through the roof would be $2685 plus City Light connection fee of $400.

    So IMHO the original quote of around 5k is a bit high. Get more bids, but remember every house and job is different.



    @ valvashon – can you give me your electricians contact info? I need one more estimate. Thanks!



    Sure- send me an e-mail at my username at hotmail.com. I’ll try to reply sometime on Monday if I can.



    @valvashon – Thanks! Check your email – from montanapup at gmail! Cheers!

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