Contact Us 24/7 for Fast and Reliable Plumbing Services

Longevity of Breaker Panels
Longevity of Breaker Panels

How Long Do Breaker Panels Last?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Find Out When You Should Replace Your Breaker Box

If you’re like most homeowners, you probably didn’t think much about your breaker box until something went wrong with it. Even though it’s silly, there’s this thought that you don’t have to worry about replacing the breaker box, that it will somehow last forever. It doesn’t, and as a responsible homeowner, it’s important to know the breaker panel’s lifespan.

With that said, this article will help you understand how long a breaker panel’s lifespan is, when it’s time to replace it, and how to replace it.

When To Replace Your Breaker Box
Electricians can help you determine what updates your breaker box might need.

How Long Does a Breaker Panel Last?

A breaker panel or a distribution board is an important part of an electrical system that distributes power throughout a building. Usually, the breaker panel is located in a utility room, the garage, or the basement. It contains a series of circuit breakers that control the flow of electricity to different parts of a house or building.

So, you’re wondering, “How long does a breaker panel last?” Breaker panels can usually last between 20 to 30 years as long as they are properly maintained and cared for. You will likely have to replace your breaker panel if you have lived in the same house for over two decades or moved to an older home.

Various factors influence a breaker panel’s lifespan. For instance, the quality of the panel is an essential consideration. A well-made, properly installed, and maintained panel can last for decades. But if it’s a low-quality panel that is poorly installed and not properly maintained, then it will most likely have a shorter lifespan.

Another important factor in the breaker panel’s lifespan is usage. A panel that is frequently overloaded or has circuits often tripping may wear out quicker than one that is used less frequently or more conservatively. Environmental conditions, such as extreme cold, humidity, and heat, can also affect the lifespan of a panel.

If you want to maximize the lifespan of a breaker panel, you must have it regularly inspected by a licensed electrician. A qualified technician will check it for wear and tear, loose connections, or other issues that can compromise its efficiency and safety. If the panel is outdated or not up to code, the electrician can replace or upgrade it.

How Long Do Breaker Panels Last
Overloading old breaker panels is a fire hazard.

When Should You Replace Your Breaker Panel?

Now you’ve got the answer to the question, “How long do electrical breaker panels last?” Next, it’s a good idea to know the different signs indicating it’s time to replace your breaker panel. Some of the common signs are as follows:


As mentioned, a breaker panel’s lifespan is around 20 to 40 years. If your panel is older than this, it may be time to replace it. Even if the breaker panel seems to be working properly, an older one may not meet the current safety standards and could be a fire hazard.

Frequent Circuit Breaker Trips

If your circuit breaker keeps tripping, it could be a sign that the breakers are malfunctioning or worn out or the panel is overloaded. This can be a safety hazard, possibly causing damage to your electrical appliances or leading to electrical fires.

Flickering Lights

Flickering lights are a common sign of a faulty breaker panel. This could be caused by worn-out breakers, loose connections, or other electrical issues. If you notice your lights have been flickering constantly, you should get your breaker panel inspected by a licensed electrician.

Rust or Corrosion

Is there rust on your breaker panel? Can you see parts of it already being corroded? It could indicate water damage, compromising the panel’s safety and functionality. If you notice any signs of rust or corrosion, get your panel inspected and possibly replaced as soon as possible.

Burn Marks or Strange Smells

Burn marks or strange smells are inconspicuous signs that something’s wrong with the breaker panel. It could mean an electrical fire or other serious problem. When you notice this, turn off the power to your home and call a licensed electrician.

Home Renovations

Are you planning to renovate your home or add new appliances? In that case, you may need to upgrade your breaker panel to accommodate the increased electrical load. This is crucial in ensuring the reliability and safety of your electrical system.

If you notice any of the above signs or have concerns about your breaker panel, don’t hesitate to call a licensed electrician to inspect the panel. They can determine if an upgrade or replacement is necessary to keep your electrical system running reliably and safely.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, gives insight into the longevity of breaker boxes as well as when when it is time to consider a replacement and how best to go about it.

How-to Change Your Breaker Box
How to go about updating your breaker box.

How to Replace a Breaker Panel

Once your breaker panel’s lifespan is passed, you can have it replaced by a licensed electrician. You may be tempted to try and replace it yourself, which is not the best thing to do. Replacing a breaker panel is a complex and potentially dangerous process that a qualified electrician should only perform.

Still, it’s good to know what usually happens when a breaker panel is replaced. Here are the general steps involved:

Turn off the Power Supply

Before starting any work, the electrician turns off the power supply to the existing breaker panel. They will shut off the main breaker and test the wires with a voltage tester to ensure no live electricity.

Remove the Old Panel

Next, the electrician removes the old panel by disconnecting the wires and removing the mounting screws. They will also remove the panel cover and the breakers.

Install the New Panel

After removing the old panel, the electrician installs the new breaker panel in the same location as the old one. They’ll mount the panel securely, connecting the wires to the new breakers in the same order as in the old panel.

Connect the Main Wires

Following the installation of the new panel, the electrician connects the main wires. This involves connecting the hot, neutral, and ground wires to the appropriate terminals in the new breaker panel.

Install New Breakers

Once the main wires are connected, the electrician installs the new breakers. They will ensure that the new breakers are properly rated for the circuits they will protect.

Test the New Panel

After the installation, the electrician turns the power back on and tests the new panel to ensure everything is working properly. They will also test the panel’s voltage and amperage to ensure it’s supplying the correct amount of power.

Electrical Breaker Panel FAQs

Can I replace my own breaker panel?

No. Replacing a breaker panel is a complex task that can be potentially dangerous. It should only be performed by a licensed electrician. Attempting to replace a breaker panel on your own can result in injury, electric shock, or damage to your home’s electrical system.

What is the cost of replacing the electrical panel?

The cost of replacing an electrical panel or a breaker panel varies depending on the panel size, the complexity of the installation, and other factors. On average, the cost ranges from $1,500 to $4,000. We advise obtaining quotes from licensed technicians to get a more accurate estimate of how you will need to replace a breaker panel.

What is the difference between a fuse box and a breaker panel?

A fuse box uses fuses to protect your home’s electrical circuits from short circuits or overloads. On the other hand, a breaker panel uses circuit breakers. Breakers are more convenient and safer than fuses because you can reset them after tripping. Most modern homes have breaker panels instead of fuse boxes.

Can you upgrade a breaker panel without rewiring the entire house?

Yes. You can upgrade a breaker panel without rewiring the entire house. However, it’s important to ensure that the existing wiring can handle the increased electrical load from the upgraded panel. You should have a licensed electrician check your electrical wiring and upgrade your breaker panel to ensure this.

How often should I have my breaker panel inspected?

It is recommended to have a breaker panel inspected by a licensed electrician every 5 to 10 years. You may also have it inspected sooner if you notice any wear or damage. Regular inspections help ensure your electrical system is safe and up to code.

Hire a Local Electrical Pro

Overall, replacing a breaker panel is a complex job. It requires specialized knowledge, skills, and experience that most ordinary homeowners don’t have. This makes it crucial to hire a licensed electrician to ensure the job is done correctly and safely. For professional help feel free to contact a local electrician by phone number or via the form on this page.

Get a Quote

Let’s connect you to a top-tier local service professional

Contact Us Today for a Quote

or Call (844) 955-4366

Thank You!

Your project has been sent to a top-tier local service provider who’ll be in touch soon to take the next steps.

or Call (844) 955-4366