Going solar is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on electricity bills. However, before you make the switch, it’s essential to ensure that your home’s electrical system can handle the additional load that solar panels will place on it.
For most homes, installing solar panels will not require major electrical upgrades. However, if your home is over 20 years old or has an outdated electrical panel, you may need to upgrade your main electrical panel before going solar.
Upgrading your electrical panel is a relatively simple and inexpensive process, and it will ensure that your home can safely and efficiently use solar power. If you are not sure whether or not your home needs an electrical panel upgrade, our team of solar experts can help you determine the best course of action for your home.
What is a main panel upgrade (MPU)?
The main panel is the central point of your home’s electrical system. It houses the main breaker, which controls all the power flowing into your home. The panel also contains several more miniature breakers controlling the power to specific areas or circuits in your home.
Your home’s electrical system has two parts: The service entrance, which includes the main breaker and brings electricity into your home from the utility grid, and the distribution panel, which is typically located inside your home and contains the smaller circuit breakers that distribute power to specific areas or circuits in your home.
If you have an older home with an outdated electrical system, you may need to upgrade the service entrance and distribution panel before going solar. However, most homes will only need an upgrade to the main electrical panel, also known as a “main panel upgrade” or MPU.
When is it necessary to upgrade my main electrical panel?
The main panel upgrade is necessary to accommodate the additional electrical load placed on your system by the solar panels. Without an upgrade, your system could become overloaded and pose a safety hazard. Additionally, by upgrading your panel, you can take advantage of net metering, which allows you to sell any excess electricity generated by your solar panels back to the grid.
There are a few reasons why you might need an MPU before going solar. These include;
- If your home is over 20 years old, it may have an outdated electrical system that cannot handle the additional load that solar panels will place on it.
- Additionally, if your home has a circuit breaker that is rated for less than 200 amps, you will likely need to upgrade to a higher-amp breaker before installing solar panels.
- Finally, homes with aluminum wiring may also require an MPU before going solar. Aluminum wiring is no longer used in new construction because it poses a fire hazard, so if your home has this type of wiring, it is likely quite old.
If you are unsure whether or not your home needs an MPU, the best way to find out is to consult with a licensed electrician. They will be able to assess your electrical system and advise you on whether or not an upgrade is necessary.
While upgrading your electrical panel may seem daunting, it is relatively straightforward. And once completed, it will give you peace of mind knowing that your home is ready for solar panels.
What is the cost of a Main Panel Upgrade?
The cost of a main panel upgrade will vary depending on the size and complexity of your project. However, the average price for an essential main panel upgrade is between $2,000 and $5,000. Although the overall cost may exceed $5,000 for more complex projects, the average ROI (return on investment) for solar panel installations is between 20% and 30%. Therefore, the initial investment for a main panel upgrade will quickly be offset by the savings on your electric bill.
How do I know if I need a Main Panel Upgrade?
If you are considering adding solar panels to your home, it is essential to have a professional assess your current electrical system. They will be able to tell you if you need an upgrade and what size system would be appropriate for your home. Additionally, your utility company may have specific requirements that need to be met for you to connect to the grid.