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The electrical panel (or "breaker box") is something most homeowners probably avoid. It's good to have some healthy fear regarding electrical panels, although as long as you aren't doing more than turning breakers on and off, it's okay not to be afraid! But the negative side of ignoring your electrical panel is that it often doesn't get the attention it deserves. It's

really important to have regular panel tune ups (where we tighten connections, check for any melting or hazardous warning signs, and do a visual inspection), but when should you replace your panel? Like your roof or your hot water heater, your electrical panel will need to be replaced eventually. The good news is that it'll last many years.

But when should you take the leap and get it replaced, or upgrade it? We're here to answer that for you!

Here are 5 reasons or signs that you should upgrade/replace your electrical panel.

1. If the Panel is Damaged or 25+ Years Old

The average lifespan of an electrical panel is 25 to 40 years. However, this lifespan depends on several factors, such as the quality of the panel, the maintenance history, and the environmental conditions.

If you live in one of the beach towns like Sullivan's Island or Isle of Palms, the electrical

panels unfortunately degrade faster due to corrosion from the saltwater in the air. We see these panels needing to be replaced sooner than their inland neighbors. If your electrical panel is older than 25 years or shows signs of damage such as rust, corrosion, cracks, burns, or melting wires, it may be time to replace it.

2. Prevent Electrical Fires

One of the most serious risks of having an outdated or damaged electrical panel is the possibility of an electrical fire. Electrical fires can be caused by faulty wiring, loose connections, corroded parts, or overloaded circuits. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical failures or malfunctions were involved in an estimated 44,880 home fires per year between 2012 and 2016, resulting in 440 deaths, 1,250 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage. If you have a recalled or outdated electrical panel and are having power issues, you should have an electrician inspect the panel for melting, which can happen with recalled breakers and panels, or simply aging of outdated panels. Upgrading your electrical panel can reduce the risk of electrical fires by ensuring that your wiring and circuit breakers are in good condition and functioning properly.

3. Fulfill Your Home’s Power Demands

Modern homes have more electrical devices and appliances than ever before, such as computers, TVs, air conditioners, refrigerators, microwaves, electric vehicle chargers, and

more. These devices require more power than older homes were designed to handle. Upgrading your electrical panel can increase the amount of power available to your home and give you the flexibility to add more modern amenities.

4. Frequently Tripping Breakers

Another indicator that you may need to upgrade your electrical panel is if you experience frequently tripped breakers in your home. Circuit breakers are designed to trip when they detect an overload or a short circuit in the wiring or appliances connected to them. This is a safety feature that prevents overheating and fire hazards. However, if your breakers trip too often or for no apparent reason, even after being inspected by an electrician, it may mean that your electrical panel is overloaded or malfunctioning. Upgrading your electrical panel can resolve these issues (but you'll want an electrician to inspect to ensure the issue is your panel).

5. Recalled or Obsolete Electrical Panels

Some older homes may have recalled types of electrical panels that are no longer considered safe or reliable by today’s standards. For example, some homes may have split-bus panels, which have two main breakers instead of one and do not have a single shut-off switch for the entire panel. Other homes may have Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) panels, Challenger

panels, or Zinsco panels, which have been found to be defective and prone to failure. (Read more about recalled panels on our blog HERE). These types of panels pose a serious fire hazard and should be replaced as soon as possible with modern and code-compliant panels.


Upgrading your electrical panel is an important investment for your home’s safety and efficiency. It can prevent electrical fires, improve the performance of your devices and appliances, increase the value of your home, and save you money on energy bills in the long run. If you notice any of the signs mentioned above that indicate that it's time to upgrade or replace your electrical panel, you should contact a licensed electrician as soon as possible to get a professional assessment and estimate. Upgrading your electrical panel is not a DIY project and should only be handled by a qualified expert.

We appreciate you reading and hope you've learned something helpful!

The Gloudeman Electric Team

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Smoke alarms are one of the most important safety devices in your home. They can alert you and your family to a fire before it spreads and becomes life-threatening. However, smoke alarms are not meant to last forever. They have a limited lifespan and need to be replaced periodically to ensure they work properly and effectively.

How Long Do Smoke Alarms Last?

According to the US Fire Administration, most fire alarms have a lifespan of between 8 and 10 years. After this period, you should consider replacing the device because the unit becomes less effective. The sensor inside the alarm can lose its sensitivity over time, making it less responsive to smoke or fire. The test button only confirms that the battery, electronics, and alert system are working; it doesn’t mean that the smoke sensor is working. To test the sensor, you need to use an aerosol can of smoke alarm test spray that simulates smoke.

The date of manufacture can be found on the back of the alarm4 Smoke alarms should be replaced 10 years from the date of manufacture. Carbon monoxide alarms should be replaced every 5-7 years, depending on the model.

Why You Should Hire an Electrician to Install Smoke Alarms

While it may seem easy to install or replace a smoke alarm yourself, there are several reasons why you should hire a professional electrician to do it for you.

Installing new units that do not fit existing hardware. If you want to upgrade your smoke alarms to newer models that have different features or specifications, you may need to change the mounting plates or wiring as well. An electrician can help you install new units that fit correctly and securely.

Rewiring existing units or putting in new ones. If you have hardwired smoke alarms that are connected to your home’s electrical wiring, you should not attempt to replace them on your own. Working with electrical wires can be dangerous and requires proper training and tools. An electrician can safely and correctly rewire your existing units or install new ones that are compatible with your wiring system.

Working with a connected alarm system. Some smoke alarms are interconnected, meaning that they communicate with each other and sound off simultaneously when one detects smoke or fire. This can provide extra protection and alert you to a fire in any part of your home. However, interconnected smoke alarms are more complex and require an understanding of how they operate as a network. An electrician can help you install or replace interconnected smoke alarms and ensure that they work together properly.

When you are unsure of how many alarms you need or where to put them. The number and placement of smoke alarms in your home can affect their performance and coverage. You need to have enough alarms to cover all the rooms and levels of your home, and you need to place them in strategic locations that can detect smoke or fire quickly and effectively. An electrician can help you determine how many alarms you need and where to put them, based on the size, layout, and features of your home. They can also help you follow the local building codes and requirements for smoke alarm installation.


Smoke alarms are essential for keeping your home and family safe from fire hazards. However, they need to be replaced every 10 years to ensure they work properly and effectively. You should also hire an electrician to install or replace your smoke alarms, especially if you have hardwired or interconnected units, or if you are unsure of how many you need or where to place them. By hiring a professional electrician, you can get your smoke alarms installed in a code compliant manner and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your home and family are protected.

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With the approach of summer storms, today we're talking about what a surge protector is and how it helps protect your home, electrical system, and everything plugged into it.

Here in the Lowcountry, we are all familiar with summer lightning storms and their frequency. Unfortunately, I have seen electrical surges from lightning wreak havoc on some very pricy items, the damage of which could have been prevented with the use of a surge protector.

Before we get into surge protection, let's talk about what a surge is.

Electrical surges, sometimes called “transient voltage," are voltage spikes that enter our electrical system. There is not one single issue that causes these voltage spikes. They can enter your home through lightning that strikes power lines, power companies performing maintenance on power lines, fallen tree limbs that cause downed power lines, or internal surges from within your home (like from a motor such as an AC unit starting--although internal surges are not typically the most damage-inflicting).

Why do electrical surges damage appliances and electrical systems?

Most of the items in our home run off electronics. These range from 5-32 volts. A surge can deliver anywhere from 170 volts, all the way into the thousands of volts. Our electronics simply are not engineered to withstand such power.

Outdoor outlet completely destroyed by an electrical surge.

When an electrical surge courses through your system and appliances, these systems' inability to handle the influx of electricity can cause burning, melting, and potential combustion.

This is where the surge protector plays its part. A surge protector works as a bridge between your panel and your electronics. It diverts or “shunts” the excess voltage to your ground rod outside, preventing that power surge from running through your system.

Anecdotally, A properly installed surge protector is installed as close to the main breaker in your electrical panel as possible. This is to ensure that as soon as the surge enters your panel, it is diverted to the ground rod outside before it runs through any circuits. If you already have a surge protector installed, it's important to check that it is in the proper position in your panel.

Panel wiring heavily damaged from an electrical storm
Panel wiring heavily damaged from an electrical storm

Having a surge protector installed in each of your electrical panels is something that we wholeheartedly recommend. This preventative measure has the potential to save you a lot of money and a lot of headaches. Although there are plug-in surge protectors that can be used directly at the site of plug-in for your electronics, they don't offer the same level of

protection that an in-panel mounted and installed protector does. Additionally, good surge protectors installed in-panel come with a warranty from the protector's manufacturer in case a surge were to get through, something that a plug-in protector will not come with.

In-panel surge protectors should be installed by a licensed electrician.

At Gloudeman Electric, we offer both surge protection and ground rod testing, as your ground rod is an important piece of your home's electrical system and in diverting surges; our ground rod test ensures your ground resistance is low enough to dissipate that voltage in order to maximize the chance of protecting your house against strikes.

Thank you for reading and we hope you feel more empowered about protecting your home against the monster storms we get in the Charleston area.


Lead Electrician

Gloudeman Electric, LLC

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