Your Home's Guardian

Electrical Cost Guides

electrical costThe electrical power that courses through your home is like your house’s life blood. It makes things work. Ceiling fans, computer networks, lights and maybe even your heating and cooling depend on it. Whether you’re having electrical problems, adding electrical outlets, upgrading an electrical panel to accommodate a new appliance, or wiring a new home, you’ll need a reliable licensed electrician. Because of the dangers and complexities involved, most electrical work falls far outside the DIY zone. Even if it’s a seemingly easy job, such as installing a light dimmer, you should consider bringing in a pro. Most electricians charge by the hour, and an experienced electrician should be able to give you a reasonably accurate hours-needed estimate from the start. But there are other factors that can affect the cost of your electrical job, depending on the type of job you need accomplished.

 Adding or Upgrading Your Electrical Panel

If you have recently purchased a home with an older panel or your current panel cannot supply the amount of power you need, then you might need to upgrade the panel or install a new one. The minimum requirement for an electric breaker panel is 100 amps. Panels come in 100, 150, 200 and 400 amp capacities. Old panels, especially those with the old glass fuses, are prone to tripping and can pose a fire hazard. Remember to choose a panel that exceeds your electricity needs so you won’t tax your electrical system, which can cause outages, or worse, a fire. Your electrician can advise you on whether your panel can be upgraded or needs to be replaced. Keep in mind that an old style fuse box cannot be upgraded and must be replaced with a new panel.

Adding New Wiring and Switches

When you hire an electrician, even for a small job like installing a light switch, be aware that most charge a minimum fee for a visit. But that fee will roll into the cost of the job. In other words, although an electrician may charge $70 just to walk in the door, that money might cover the first hour of work. The cost of the job will vary depending on the complexity and parts needed. One factor that often contributes to a job’s complexity is access. How difficult will it be to run wires, etc.? Will your electrician need to cut into the walls, and, if so, how much? Also that issue of capacity may arise when you add new wiring or install switches. A cheap and simple job can get expensive when you need to update or change your electrical board.

Installing Lighting Fixtures

If the cost to install a light fixture seems high, that’s because it includes the price of the fixture. Here’s one of the few electrical jobs that may end up costing you more in materials than labor. But, again, capacity issues that require board upgrades or access complications may raise those labor costs. Your electrician should be able to give you an estimate before starting the job.