Cost to replace the fuse box with the breaker box

What is the cost to upgrade your electrical panel from fuses to breakers?

Fuse panels are not just old and inconvenient. It is not that only impossible to add a new circuit to your fuse box, but also many fuses in old panels are oversized. Many of them have 20 amp fuses where circuit wires are only capable to carry 15 amp current. In this article, we will explain to you the electrical panel upgrade cost from fuses to breakers.

Usually, fuse panel upgrades cost is anywhere between $1000 and 1500$ dollars for 100 amp. There are a few examples where old fuse box already 200 amp, in this case, your should expect to pay from $1500  to 1800$ dollars. The price includes all necessary permits, labor, and materials. What can increase the price:

-Toronto habitats will have to add disconnection cost, it is about 300$ for meter pull out and 678$ for disconnecting power at the overhead line or transformer. We had paid 4000$ once, so it is always better to check with your local utility

-Changing grounding conductor, Ontario Electrical Safety Code requires minimum #6AWG grounding conductor between the panel and incoming copper water pipes. If your panel doesn’t have one expect to pay 100-200$ extra

-Panel relocation. If you want to relocate your main electrical panel most likely electrician has to make 1-2 junction boxes in your existing panel location and run jumpers to the new panel. Also if the panel is located more than 1.5 meters from the point where main wires entering the building disconnector mean has to be installed. All this may cost up to 1000$-1500$ extra.

Why breakers are better than fuses?

Fuse and breakers serve the same purpose, it is to disconnect an overloaded or damaged circuit.

While fuse did its job faster than breakers, 10 vs1 milliseconds it is not helpful because all electronic equipment has internal protection. For example, the fuse will not burn out if the current is 10%-15%  over allowable, and wires and equipment will be working overloaded for a while.

Reusability. No questions here-breaker wins

Convenient. Well, the breaker wins again.

Cost. If the panel is a new(up to 20 years approximately)  and commonly used brand(Siemens, Eaton, Schneider, etc) price is the same. Some rarely used and older panels can have more expensive breakers.

Replacement safety. Fuse replacement a bit risky because it requires manual installation in a holder with open live parts while the breaker can be easily reset using a button.

Reliabilty. Fuse doesn’t have moving parts, therefore it is a bit more reliable. However, breakers rarely fail. In the last 10 years, we never had an issue where the breaker did not trip, sometimes they can not be reset after it has tripped.

Do you need to upgrade your panel?

The common question we hear is about the necessity of fuse panel upgrading. Well if you are planning to live in this house the answer is YES.

    First, of all, it is safer to have a fast-acting breaker.

    Second, it is more convenient to just reset the breaker than changing fuses(which often not in stock).

    The third is the possibility of adding new circuits, old panels are already full and often have double-tapping( two wires connected to the same fuse).

Do you need a permit for panel replacement?

The short answer is YES. If anyone ever tells you you do not need a permit simply run.

This is the LAW in Ontario enforced by Electrical Safety Authority. Though homeowner permitted to do the electrical job in own house, still must pull a permit from ESA, this a law and also insurance matter.

For panel upgrade, you must hire a Licensed and Insured Electrical Contractor and this is Electrical Code Requirement, also before panel upgrade you need permission from the electrical utility. Local Hydro will check if the incoming cable is capable of a new panel and disconnect power so safe panel replacement.

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