What Size Electrical Panel Do I Need for My MN Home?

Thinking about getting an electrical panel with a higher amperage?
Homeowners often ask us for advice about upgrading their electrical panels, and this is what we tell them: Most Minnesota homes are OK with a 100 amp minimum electrical panel.
So in most cases, you shouldn’t need to upgrade your electrical panel.
However, there are 3 reasons why you should upgrade your home’s electrical panel:

  1. You’re already drawing too much power
  2. You’re adding amenities to your home
  3. Your home is 40 to 60+ years old

In this article, we’ll go into more detail about why you’re probably OK with a 100 amp panel, as well as the 3 reasons why you should upgrade your electrical panel.
But FIRST, let’s start with a quick refresher on electrical panels in case you’re new to the topic. If you already know the basics, go ahead and skip to the next section.

A quick refresher on electrical panels

An electrical panel (also called a breaker panel).

All of your home appliances rely on electricity for power. Your electrical panel is the component that controls and distributes power to your appliances.
Electrical panel power capacity is measured in amps, and the minimum requirement for electrical panels is 100 amps. Residential electrical panels come in 100, 125, 150 and 200 amp sizes. You can find the amp size of your panel near the main breaker ON/OFF switch.
Now, it may appear that a 200-amp electrical panel is better than a 100-amp panel, but that’s not the case. It just means that the 200-amp panel is bigger (think of it like a large Coke vs. a small Coke—they both contain the same substance, they’re just different sizes).
The size electrical panel your home needs depends on the appliances you use.
Now we’ll explain why your Minnesota home should be OK with a 100 amp electrical panel...

Why you’re generally OK with a 100 amp electrical panel

Most Minnesota homes come with the same basic electrical appliances (dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwaves, etc.). Each of these appliances has an electrical capacity or load, which is expressed as volt-ampere (VA).
The VA rating of each appliance is added to determine the minimum size your electrical panel needs to be. In our experience performing these calculations, most Minnesota homes need a 100 amp electrical panel.  
Of course, that depends on the specifics of your home. Many Minnesota homes use a gas-fueled appliances like a furnace, water heater and oven, which reduces the amount of electrical power your home needs. But if those appliances are electric, you likely already have a bigger electrical panel to support them.
To get a rough estimate of the minimum size electrical panel your home needs, use this online load calculator. But remember: this is just a rough estimate. A professional electrician will need to perform a more complex load calculation to accurately determine what size panel you need for your home.

3 reasons you should upgrade your home’s electrical panel

Reason #1: You’re already drawing too much power

If your home’s appliances are already requiring too much power, then you’ll need to upgrade your electrical panel.
How do I know if I’m drawing too much power? You’ll know if you see signs like…

  • Your circuit breakers trips frequently
  • Your lights dim when you turn on other appliances
  • You have to use extension cords or adapters to create additional outlets for your home

If you notice any of those signs, contact a certified electrician to perform a load calculation for your home. A professional load calculation will determine what size electrical panel your home needs. 

Reason #2: You’re adding amenities to your home

If you’re adding amenities or bigger appliances—like a bigger air conditioner or a spa— to your home, you may need to upgrade your electrical panel.
Before you add any big appliances or amenities to your home, contact an electrician to make sure you’ll have enough power for them.

Reason #3: Your home is 40–60+ years old

Some older homes come with pre-WWII electrical panels, which were only designed with 30, 50 or 60 amps for the entire home. If you have an electrical panel with screw-in type fuses, you likely have an older panel and you’ll need to upgrade to at least a 100 amp panel.
Additionally, electrical panels generally last 25 to 40 years, so if yours is 40+ years, it could be time to replace it. If your electrical panel is in poor condition, or if it only has a few circuits, these are signs it’s time to replace it.
Contact a licensed electrician to replace your electrical panel if it’s too old.

Still have questions? Or need a professional to install your new electrical panel?

Contact On Time Services Pros. We’d be happy to answer any of your questions or schedule an appointment for one of our electricians to install a new electrical panel.

We’ve been serving the Twin Cities area since 1945.

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