How Do I Know If My Switchboard Needs To Be Upgraded?
Your switchboard is the brain of your home’s electrical system. It distributes mains electricity and distributes it to various places in your house.
A switchboard upgrade will periodically become necessary as you make additions to your home, acquire new appliances or the unit becomes too old.
When Is It Time for a Switchboard Upgrade?
Your need for an upgrade will depend on a number of variables. The age of your home, the amount of power you use, and any heating, air conditioning or solar power units will all need to be considered. Some hints that it may be time for an upgrade include:
The Presence of Old Wiring
Outdated switchboards and components are a huge safety liability. Switchboard wiring will usually be white, grey, or black. White wiring being a good sign. It means you may not need an upgrade just yet.
Black or grey wiring, however usually indicates old wiring – a sign that it’s probably time for an upgrade.
Your Board is Made of Outdated Materials
Old switchboards were often made with materials like wood or chipboard that were not sufficiently flame resistant. Others were backed with toxic asbestos or contained porcelain fuses that aren’t fire resistant.
The presence of any of these materials likely means it’s time for a new switchboard.
Whether Your Board Has Fuses or Safety Switches
One of the main purposes of your switchboard is to break the circuit if an electrical fault occurs. Failure to do so can mean overloading the circuit causing damage and potentially fire.
Older properties used porcelain fuses that were designed to burn and snap in order to stop the current. Circuit breakers are more modern and designed to open circuit in the event of a short circuit or over current.
New regulations introduced this year now require safety switches installed on all final sub circuits. This mean that whenever a new installation or alteration to any existing or new circuits is completed, the circuit modified will now require the installation of a safety switch.
Safety switch / circuit breaker combo’s operate in the same way as circuits breakers protecting against short circuit and overcurrent, however they also monitor a current for any faults or earth leakage and almost immediately shut off the current once it’s detected. This is designed to protect the person also, not just the cable.
Safety switch / circuit breakers (RCBO) are a marked improvement over fuses. They are safer, more reliable and more convenient as homeowners can simply restore power with the flick of a switch rather than having to install a fresh fuse.
The Number of Circuits in Your Home
Older homes typically have fewer circuits than modern ones. Most families these days need more than just a circuit for their refrigerator, lights, and a couple of extra outlets.
Only having a couple of circuits leaves you vulnerable to overloads. And when a circuit gets tripped, it can take down many of the appliances in your home. If you find yourself in this situation, you probably need to upgrade to a board that can support more circuits.
Renovations or New Appliances
It goes without saying that a large addition to a home will require more power and therefore an upgraded board.
Air conditioners or heaters, for example, will usually need to go on their own circuits. Adding solar panels to your home will also tend to require a new switchboard and a new meter.
An adequate switchboard is essential for keeping your home and your family safe. If you’re unsure if you need a switchboard upgrade, call us at AMP’D Electrical and Solar.
AMP’D Electrical & Solar are your professional Gold Coast Electricians. We are family owned and operated and offer complete electrical solutions for your home or business.