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4 electrical projects that will improve your home

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Replacing your electrical panel can allow your home to handle bigger power loads.

If you think of your home as a body, the electrical system is undoubtedly the beating heart, constantly providing energy through the walls and pumping power into everything from the HVAC system to your toaster.

However, just like many critical systems in your own body, you often don’t even notice everything the electrical system does until something goes wrong.

Here are four electrician projects that can improve your home and protect against future disaster. These are complicated tasks, so hire a licensed electrician and listen to their advice about your best options.

Replace the electrical panel

Average cost: $1,300-$3,000

The electrical panel manages the link between external power lines and the energy flowing into your house. You may need to replace an old panel because it’s worn out, or upgrade to allow more power in the home. You may need this if your panel is outdated and can’t handle your current needs, or if you make home additions that draw more energy.

If you’re replacing a panel with the same amperage, the cost will remain relatively low. However, if you’re upgrading to a higher amperage, expect to pay more.

Rewire your house

$6,000-$25,000

Rewiring is a job you’re not likely to have to do very often — and a good thing, given the expense. You may need to do it in the event of a major disaster such as a lightning strike, or if you have an older home with decades-old wiring that is no longer safe. The cost will vary greatly depending on the size of your house and the number of electrical connections to replace.

Make sure your pro pulls the correct permits for your area and gets it inspected in accordance with local code. Most cities and towns require permits for rewiring, and it can create a big headache if you try to sell your home and an inspection uncovers work done without a required permit.

Install a lightning protection system

$400-$2,500

A lightning strike carries hundreds of millions of volts of electricity. A strike on your home can cause enormous damage. A lightning protection system can divert lightning from your home and preserve your appliances and wiring. Such systems range from around $100 for a basic surge protector to $3,000 for lightning rods and a grounding system that will direct the energy into the ground away from the house.

You can also add whole-house surge protectors to your electrical panel. These cost between $300 and $500 on average.

Add a home generator

$1,400-$7,000

When storms wipe out power and knock down lines, it’s possible your home can be without energy for quite some time. However, a home-based electrical generator can cover your heat, light and electricity needs in an emergency.

Two things most impact cost: size and power source. Small models are easily portable and inexpensive, but generate only a limited amount of power. Whole-house models will be larger and more reliable, but more expensive.

Most generators operate from gasoline, natural gas, diesel fuel, liquid propane and solar power. Each has pros and cons — for instance, gasoline is readily available and inexpensive, but has a short shelf life. Diesel fuel is easier to store and more efficient, but diesel units tend to be the most expensive options. Your electrician can explain the options for you.

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