Does my switchboard need to be upgraded?

Does my switchboard need to be upgraded?

 

Just like any part of your home, switchboards do need a ‘renovation’ from time to time, referred to as a switchboard upgrade. 

  • Are you experiencing issues with the power in your home?

  • Do you have old fuses or plug-in circuit breakers? 

  • Has an electrician or another tradesperson such suggested you need a switchboard upgrade? 

 

If you’re feeling concerned  and wondering what might be wrong with your electrical switchboard, read on to learn the signs it’s time to invest in a new switchboard, the dangers of an outdated switchboard and what the switchboard upgrade costs might be. 


If you still have questions, give our owner Cameron a call on 0400 767 534. Our team at CRM Electrical provides switchboard upgrades to Gold Coast homeowners and landlords. 

 

What is the switchboard? 


The switchboard in your home is often referred to as the ‘central hub’ of electricity and for good reason. The purpose of your switchboard is to distribute the power from your electricity provider through the many circuits in your home that power your lights, outlets, appliances, air-conditioning and pool. All of the power in your home can be shut off and on via your electrical switchboard. 


Sometimes called a fuse box, meter box, breaker box or electrical box, when you understand the important job your switchboard has,  you realise how critical it is to keep it safe and compliant. 

 

Why you need to keep your switchboard safe

 
Household power consumption has increased over the years with the endless electrical appliances, smart home features and other gadgets we own. Additionally, homeowners, landlords and tenants are becoming more savvy when it comes to the integrity of electricity in their home and the impact on personal safety. And finally, Electrical Safety Standards in Australia have improved to increase the protection of people in their homes and the safety of electricians working in homes. 


The dangers of an outdated switchboard are scary - fuses and old circuit breakers are responsible for many household electrical fires and you may not have the necessary safety switches to protect your family from electric shock. 

 

Inside your switchboard


Your switchboard is usually housed in a steel box at the front of your property. A panel of switches directs power through your property although there may also be a subpanel for a specific section of your home. 


Your panel is made up of circuit breakers which are controlled by an ON / OFF lever, each circuit breaker will usually be labelled to indicate what area of the house it serves. If you have safety switches, these will look like another switch with a button marked with ‘TEST’ or ‘T’. 

 

As a home or rental property owner, this is probably as much as you need to know about what is inside the switchboard and how it works. To get inside the switchboard to install or replace circuit breakers or safety switches or complete an upgrade you must use a licensed electrician. 

 

switchboard need to be upgraded

What are the signs you may need to upgrade your switchboard? 


There are some tell-tale signs that may indicate your switchboard is under pressure but there are also subtle signs that you may not notice. There are also actions you might takes like renovating, renting out or selling your home that trigger a legal requirement to update your switchboard. We’ll outline some of the most common situations when you might need a switchboard upgrade. 

 

  • System faults and power outages 


One of the most obvious signs of a switchboard issue is your circuit breakers trip leading to the power to cut out on a particular circuit in your home (e.g. your powerpoints). Another symptom is flickering lights or your appliances might be short-circuiting which means there is excess electrical current flow which can damage your appliance. An electrician can diagnose the cause of the problem and identify whether changes to your switchboard are part of the solution. 

 

  • Don’t have a Safety Switch


If there’s an issue detected due to a short circuit, circuit overload or a fault with an appliance, a safety switch (also known as RCD) will immediately turn off the power (in 0.03 seconds) to help prevent electric shock. 


If your switchboard doesn't contain a safety switch you’re putting the lives of your family at risk. Even if you’re not yet required by law to install a safety switch, get peace of mind that your home is safe. Installing safety switches may lead to a switchboard upgrade. 

 

  • Your switchboard still has fuses


If you live in an older Gold Coast suburb like Miami, Burleigh, Palm Beach, Kirra or Coolangatta and haven’t renovated you might still have the old style fuses in your switchboard. Ceramic fuses are outdated and are an indicator that your electrical system is at risk.  Old switchboards and fuses are a cause of house fires, so if you have the old style fuses be sure to put a switchboard upgrade at the very top of your to-do list. 

 

  • Upgraded your appliances


Have you recently upgraded your electrical appliances? Perhaps one of these triggers your memory: 

  • New washing machine or dryer

  • New larger TV or surround sound system

  • New heat lamps or towel heaters in the bathroom

  • Larger hot water system

  • Ducted air con or multiple new split systems 

  • Increased lighting, added pendant lighting features or outdoor lighting 

 

If you’ve had any of these new systems or appliances installed recently, it’s highly likely the pressure on your electrical circuits has increased too. This can result in overloading the switchboard which may cause overheating and in worst cases, fire.


The pressure on your electrical system is usually a steady rise over time and new wiring, cabling and switches may be necessary. An electrician is the only person qualified to assess your requirements and provide the solution. 

 

Renovating 


Your switchboard was designed to handle the electrical needs of your original home. If you renovate and add more rooms, resulting in more lights, powerpoints and appliances, the electrical needs of your home become more complex.  


Additionally, safety switch regulations introduced in 2018 state if you complete a significant renovation on your home, you must install adequate safety switches. These are managed in your switchboard and may trigger the need for a switchboard upgrade. 

 

Installing Solar 


If you’re considering installing a grid-connected solar power system you will need a compatible switchboard with space for circuit breakers for solar. If you have a fuse switchboard or no space in your switchboard for these additional circuits, your switchboard will require an upgrade. 

 

How much does a switchboard cost?


Pricing for the actual switchboard equipment ranges greatly depending on the individual needs of your home. Some of the variables to consider when pricing your upgrade: 

  • If the old board contains asbestos materials
  • Location of the existing switchboard
  • Number of circuits in the property
  • If the complete meterbox needs to be replaced
  • If the meters need to be relocated to an accessible area as per Energex requirements 

 

If you’re a property owner on the Gold Coast and needing further advice or a quote on a switchboard upgrade we’d love to help. Contact our friendly team today if you still have questions - 0400 767 534