Upgrading your electrical panel for an EV


Dear David,

We live in a fairly large 1960s-era home on a generous lot. Now that our kids have left the nest, downsizing is on the horizon. In anticipation of selling, we’re making a few investments in our home. We currently have 100 amp electrical service on fuses and want to upgrade the panel. Given the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs), do you think it’s worthwhile to try and accommodate an EV charger? – FORWARD THINKER

DEAR FORWARD: With downsizing plans in the not-so-distant future, this is a great time to assess the fundamental components of your house. Your electrical panel is an important consideration, along with your roof, windows and HVAC system (furnace and air conditioner). The goal is to make your home as desirable as possible when you sell, without having to take on a major renovation project. Unless you’re in the house-flipping business, the kitchen and bathrooms can quite often be left for the new buyers to handle.

I list and sell enough houses to have a pretty good handle on what most buyers want. As a general rule, they tend to prefer spending money on visible things with lots of sizzle. When friends and family come to visit, it’s fun to show off a new kitchen, gleaming floors or trendy new  decor. The new furnace in a dreary corner of the basement tends to be much less exciting. 

In your case, upgrading the electrical panel from fuses to breakers is an optimal forward-thinking investment. It opens the door for buyers to consider fun upgrades like a pool, hot tub, or electric vehicle. A quick call to your utility company might provide the necessary information to determine if 200 amp service is achievable at your address. There’s a good possibility it is if your home was built in the last 30 years or so, but the utility company may not know for sure until the existing meter is removed. 

If 200 amp service is available, ask your electrical contractor to give you a quote for upgrading to either a 100 amp or 200 amp electrical panel. Most people only need 100 amps for general household use, but 200 amps opens up many options. I’m not suggesting you install an EV charger now. Rather, you might consider building in the capacity and possibly running the wiring while you’re upgrading anyway, as it could end up being a big selling point for the right buyer.

PRO TIP: Most people plan their downsizing move two or three years in advance, which makes it easier to spread out the cost of fundamental upgrades over time. Talk to your Realtor and see if you have fundamentals that are close to the end of their economic life. If you do, you may consider replacing them now, rather than jamming in a bunch of projects right before you move. You don’t need to fix what isn’t broken, but if updating fundamentals may benefit the sale of your home, it’s something to consider. Buyers don’t typically budget for repairs and tend to overestimate their cost. You don’t want aging fundamentals to present a barrier when it comes time to sell. #Advice #AskDavid #TheNegotiator

David is a top-selling Broker in Kitchener-Waterloo Region. He works personally with you when selling or buying your home. Call or text today for your free home evaluation! 519-577-1212.