5 Essential Tips for Upgrading the Electrical System in Your Home | Digitized House

5 Essential Tips for Upgrading the Electrical System in Your Home

5 Essential Tips for Upgrading the Electrical System in Your Home
Electrical power is the lifeblood of your home. If your electrical system is not up to the demands of today's connected home, it may be time for an upgrade. Image: Andreea Ch from Pexels.
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Do you find yourself having to juggle multiple power strips so that you can keep all your tech devices charged while trying to accomplish your daily tasks? Now may be the opportune time to stow away the extension cords and consider an electrical system wiring upgrade. Though it is a sizable investment, modernizing your home’s electrical system can reduce the number of visible wires, boost resale value, and provide you and your family with the comfort and safety to grow.

Beyond the aesthetics of Decora-style outlets, upgrading the wiring system in your home adds safety and flexibility to every room. Image: Digitized House.
Beyond the aesthetics of optional Decora-style switches and outlet covers, upgrading the electrical system in your home adds safety and flexibility to every room. Image: Digitized House.

The average cost of a complete wiring upgrade can range anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000 for medium to large homes (those from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet). This includes the opening of walls, installing the wiring, switches, and outlets, then closing the walls back up. The bill might deter you at first, but there are well-supported reasons to make the investment. This guide will offer essential tips when considering a complete electrical upgrade.

[1] Consult With the Professionals

Was your home built 30 or more years ago? It may be time to consult with a professional electrician. Image: Sid74 from Pixabay.
Was your home built 30 or more years ago? It may be time to consult with a professional electrician regarding an upgrade. Image: Sid74 from Pixabay.

First things first. The level of electricity running throughout your home has the power to kill or injure you. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, there were 136 fatal and 2,210 non-fatal electrical injuries among electricians in the workplace in 2017. If there is a risk for trained professionals, then there is certainly a risk for the noble DIYer. 

Professional licensed electricians will be well versed in compliance with the National Electrical Code (NEC) as well any local code requirements and restrictions. They can better help you devise the best plan for upgrading your electrical wiring. You can find a comprehensive breakdown of the NEC here

[2] GFCIs Are Crucial for a Safe Home

In this kitchen, a generous number of GFCI-connected outlets serve to help safely connect the many electrified accessories without the need for power strips—just one of the many benefits of an upgraded electrical system. Image: Digitized House.

Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs)—also known as residual current devices (RCDs)—are currently required by the NEC to be installed in outlets that run along your kitchen and bathroom countertops and in unfinished basements. This safety precaution is intended to protect against home electrocution in areas most likely to house electrical appliances that share close proximity to water. 

These requirements were not always mandatory. If your home is older and has not had an electrical wiring upgrade, then you should consider bringing it up to code. Installing GFCIs is a task that requires electrical experience, so ensure you are well versed in what’s involved if you are considering doing the upgrade on your own. Keep in mind that this may require the installation of new circuit breakers in your electrical panel, a task best left to the professionals.

[3] Upgrade Your Electrical Panel and Service

Older homes, those built more than 30 to 40 years ago, were designed to use an electrical service ranging from 30 to 50 amps of power. But today, a central air conditioning unit alone can require up to 200 amps to operate. The fact is clear that many older homes are simply not properly outfitted for the electrical demands of modern life. 

An obsolete electric system is not only a frustration—as lights flicker and the breaker trips more frequently than is pleasant—but it is also a safety hazard. Between 2012 and 2016, electrical failures and malfunctions were the second leading cause of all reported house fires. 

If you are experiencing any strange noises coming from your panel, burning odors near outlets, having circuit breaker trips more than once a month, or if your lights flicker and dim to compensate when you turn on the vacuum, you should seriously consider upgrading your electrical panel as part of your electrical wiring upgrade.

[4] Consider Structured Wiring

A structured media enclosure serves as a central hub for all the structured wiring in your home. Image: Digitized House.
A structured media enclosure serves as a central hub for all the structured wiring in your home. Image: Digitized House.

Smart home technology has become commonplace as costs drop and tech advances. Keeping up with the trend, homeowners are increasingly connecting their flat-screen TVs, internet service, home security system, phones, and appliances through a fully-integrated smart home ecosystem. While many connected home devices connect wirelessly through Wi-Fi, many will continue to require hard-wired (and more secure) Ethernet connections. That’s why structured wiring and structured media enclosures have become standard fare in most new homes.

Properly outfitted with the right low-voltage wiring, networking cables, and high-capacity coaxial wiring, you can ensure connected devices are accessible from every room of the house as well as remotely. If you are interested in preparing your home for the connectivity of the future, you should consider running structured wiring throughout your home in tandem with a central structured media enclosure.

Structured Media Enclosures

As our homes are getting increasingly tech-intensive, structured media enclosures can house critical connected home components in a central, accessible location. Image: Leviton.
As our homes are getting increasingly tech-intensive, structured media enclosures can house critical connected home components in a central, easily accessible location. Image: Leviton.

The idea with a structured media enclosure is to have a central hub where all devices in your home are able to interface with one another. For example, you can connect your smart TV to the camera feed from your security system, or have music played throughout the house when you open your door. Structured wiring comes together in this in-wall hub, and allows your devices to communicate with one another and gives you a central command center to oversee their communications.

[5] Upgrade Your Wiring When You Renovate 

If you were planning renovations in areas of your home—either to prepare it for the market or to improve and expand it for your own living needs—performing a rewiring during this time makes practical and economic sense. During renovations, walls will have to be knocked down and rebuilt, so coordinating with an electrician during your renovations can save you time and money.

Upgrade and Boost the Value of Your Home

Taking the time to perform a complete and thorough electrical wiring upgrade on your house will serve to boost the value of your home. Older homes often lack the latest amenities of modern life, despite their rustic charm. 

Essentially, if your home is 30 years of age or older, its electrical system is obsolete. Investing in the electrical system will not only get your house up to code, but also show professional appraisers or prospective buyers that your home is fully equipped to handle the electrical demands of the 21st century.

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Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beach-goer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She is writing on behalf of her clients, Prime Electrical Services and Home Appraising Group.
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5 Essential Tips for Upgrading the Electrical System in Your Home

by Jennifer Bell

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