How do you know when it’s time to upgrade your switchboard? Or what does it even do?

Your switchboard is the focal point of your home and it’s electrical wiring. You can think of it as the brains for your home electrical system. It takes the consumer mains electricity from the street and distributes it to various places in your house or business.

A switchboard or fuse box is generally located at the front of your house or business. It contains the necessary safety switches, circuit breakers (or MCBs) or fuses.

A switchboard upgrade will periodically become necessary as you make additions to your home, upgrade your appliances, add a pool or air-conditioning, or the wiring is too old or unsafe. The best thing to do is to call a reputable Sydney electrician to give you a complimentary safety audit on your current switchboard.


Top 6 signs you need a Switchboard Upgrade


1. The backing of the switchboard is made of wood or asbestos.

This is very unsafe! The chances of a fire or short out in the fuse box become significantly greater if the materials it’s made out of are not up to today’s modern standards. See below a picture of an old switchboard in Sydney.

The asbestos is also a hazard for your family or workplace.

Switchboard backing made out of wood
Switchboard backing made out of wood


2. No more room in your switchboard, or switchboard is overcrowded. 

If there isn’t any room in your switchboard or fuse box you can’t add additional circuits to it. Often when you are getting solar installed, a new pool pump or air-conditioning you will require a switchboard upgrade or even a three phase power upgrade in order to service the new electrical apparatus. Overloading existing circuits is a massive safety hazard.


3. Circuits keep tripping or shorting out.

 When your switchboard gets old, the circuits are more likely to trip as they are not power efficient. If you have tested all of your appliances and they are not the cause, it could just be time for an upgrade. We also tend to have so many more appliances plugged in these days than were ever required in the past, so the electrical needs can be a lot greater.


4. Old fuses or ceramic fuses.

 With these types of old technology – the protection they provide is limited. In NSW it is now mandatory to install safety switches on any new builds or electrical upgrades in Sydney. This is due to the safety features and protection that they offer your home or business and your family or employees. It is much easier to flick the switch back on than to deal with an electrical fire at the end of the day! The new safety switches also provide protection against overloading, short circuiting and electric shocks.

No space left on the switchboard


5. A burning smell or sparks.

If you smell a burning smell or see sparks you need to call an emergency electrician immediately. You may have an overloaded circuit or faulty wiring. If you don’t attend to this straight away it is very dangerous. You may also see blackened or melted fuses – don’t hesitate to call an expert ASAP.


6. Electrical defect notice.

 If your electricity distributor has issued you with an electrical defect notice – you may require a switchboard upgrade or replacement in order to rectify the defect. An inspector from Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy or Essential Energy can defect your property and give you a timeframe in which you need to comply and get repairs or upgrades completed to make everything safe.


How much will the switchboard upgrade cost?

There are so many variables that make up a switchboard upgrade quote in Sydney.  These factors include:

  • how many circuits required
  • the materials your current switchboard is made out of (e.g. asbestos will need to be carefully treated and removed)
  • if you are also getting a three phase power upgrade at the same time
  • what brand of electrical product is used (you want a brand that is known such as Clipsal or Hager – so you know you’re only getting the best quality)
  • the type of cabling used in the house and whether the wiring needs to be replaced.
  • does the switchboard need to be relocated?