If you're thinking of installing central air conditioning for the first time, consider having an electrical inspection done first if you live in an old house. You might need to upgrade your electrical panel so there is enough power for your new AC. Here are some things you may need to discuss with your electrician about an electrical upgrade.
If Your Circuits Are Currently Overloaded
If your lights dim when an appliance starts up or if the lights flicker regularly, you might have overloaded circuits already. In that case, it might be difficult to add an air conditioner to the system without an upgrade. However, if you're living with overloaded circuits, your electrical system needs an upgrade whether you get a new air conditioner or not.
If Most Of Your Appliances Are Gas
If you have an old home with an old electrical panel, it may seem like you should need an upgrade while you may not. It depends on how much electricity you use. If most of your major appliances and your furnace run on gas, you might have electricity to spare. The only way to know for sure is to hire an electrician to inspect your electrical system so you can see how much power the panel can supply and how much your home will demand with the addition of an air conditioner.
If A Subpanel Might Be An Option
One problem with an old electrical panel is that it doesn't have much room for adding extra circuits. Modern panels are larger and have space for extra circuits when you need to add them. An air conditioner needs a dedicated circuit, and if there is no room in the panel, installing a subpanel might be a good solution if your electrician agrees. A subpanel has its own circuits and could supply the AC with the power it needs.
If Your Panel Needs An Upgrade
After examining your electrical system and hearing feedback from the electrician, you may decide that getting a new panel and increasing the amps and available spaces for extra circuits is a good idea. You might want to do this if you're upgrading other parts of your home as well as getting a new air conditioner. You might need more power for a tankless water heater or hot tub.
Electrical services you might need from the pole to the meter will probably be done by your utility company, and the electrical services that involve replacing the panel or installing a subpanel can be done by the electrician. The electrician might need to coordinate their work with the power company so you're not without power longer than necessary.
Once you get a new panel, then your energy needs should be set for several years to come. Homes use more power now than ever, and the trend will probably continue. Replacing the electrical panel may be necessary at some point, so doing it when you get a new AC might be a good time.Share