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Question DetailsAsked on 2/17/2018

how much to move an electrical panel from inside to outside

This panel is in an old house, that has been attempted to upgrade by amateurs. need to re wire the entire house (2500 sq ft)
and move the panel to the outside near the meter -

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Here are links to a bunch of similar questions with answers, cost of course depending on specifics of the job. Commonly a couple to three thousand to do an upgrade just of the supply to the panel and the panel itself or a nearby panel relocation - entire house rewire included can push that into the $4000-5000 and on up range for single-story house with easy crawlspace/unfinished basement ceiling access, as much as $5,000-12,000+ for normal 2000-4000 or so SF home including the repairs to surfaces to patch access holes from running the wires. Obviously, this is a size job you need to scope out a scope of work and get multiple bids before going to contract with a specific vendor.

First thing I would check is if an outdoor permanent breaker/distribution panel is legal in your area, or if it is does it have to be enclosed in a heated utility closet if located outdoors (normally is "heated" by connecting top and bottom of interior wall with house air with screened louvered grills). Not currently legal at all in some areas, on the valid premise that a distribution/breaker panel should be readily accessible to occupants in an emergency, and they should not have to run outside to shut off a breaker. Even if legal on outside wall, at leat be sure a weather hood or shed roof is built over it to protect from dripping water and ice and blown-in water, because breaker panels, even if outdoor rated, are NOT watertight against that unless rated - oh, what is it - NEMA 3R and above, as I recall.

[Main breakers are allowed and are very commonly put outdoors, and right next to or in the meter box is actually the most logical place for the main household breaker so all the lines to the household distribution/breaker box are protected too, and so one does not have to open a potentially arcing or burning distribution panel to shut off the main breaker in the event of a distribution box problem. That is my main gripe with main breakers in the distribution/breaker panel - having your main shutoff located where a major wiring problem may be occurring makes no sense to me. Saw a man killed that way, trying to access a main disconnect which was in the same enclosure cabinet as an arcing distribution bus].

Moving the panel outdoors generally means relocating the panel (or getting a new one if your type is quite old or need upsizing or is recalled or has a record of breaker failures - several brands in that status), and putting in a large junction box (easiest if same size or sometimes to just remove the breaker connections and bus bars and such and convert the breaker box to a junction box). That leaves the circuit wires coming into the box the same as now, then new leads are run from splices with them (I EMPHATICALLY recommend twisted and soldered, not just wire nut, connections in junction boxes) with new leads run to the new box location.

Of course, if totally rewiring the house, especially if the new outdoor panel is close to the existing one so runs would be basically the same, best to just run the new wires straight to the new panel - possibly leaving the old box in place as a secondary panel for the garage if located there for possible upgrading for large demand power tools and such or if you have large HVAC loads there.

Electrical is of course the Search the List category for this type of work - and consider in the process any upgrades you want along the way - added outdoor lights or security system, hard-wired interconnected fire/CO/flooding/power loss/freeze alarms, UPS circuit for computers and TV maybe, enhanced amperage capacity for possible future demand growth by A/C - range - dishwasher - washer - cooktop - microwave, etc, enhanced bathroom ampearage capacity for hair dryers or wall-mount hand dryers, running whole-house CAT6 internet connection wiring or cable TV cable or such, as long as the walls are being opened up to run wires. It is not at all uncommon these days for a total rewire job to put in whole-house ethernet / internet and electronic household control wiring even if the system itself is not installed at that time. One other thing I like to do is drop a new 8-pair control wire from thermostats to furnace/AC areas for possible future upgrades to HVAC smart controllers.

Also a good time to upgrade kitchen and bath fans to larger airflow capacity units, if desired, because most original construction units are pretty grossly undersized for good function even if they meet code.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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