Want to Upgrade your Electrical Panel? Make the Smart Choice: Get a Smart Panel
Standard electrical panels do two things: distribute electricity, and prevent electrical accidents. Granted, those two things are pretty darn important. But what if your electrical panel could do more?
Psst… it can. Read on to learn about the ultimate electrical panel upgrade: the Smart Panel. 🤓
What is a Smart Panel?
While most of the technology that we use in our homes has evolved dramatically in the last 50 years, the electrical panel has not been given even a single makeover. This is not always a bad thing… If it ain’t broke, right?
But, as we collectively take steps to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels and transition to fully electric lives in the face of our rapidly warming climate, the ways in which we use electricity are rightly coming under scrutiny. 🔍
The name of the game has changed: homeowners are no longer interested in just functionality. They’re after efficiency.
This interest in home energy efficiency has sparked a demand for an upgraded electrical panel. That’s where Smart Panels come in.
Smart Panels are, as the name implies, “smart” electrical panels. They do all the good stuff that the electrical panels of old do, but they have some new-fangled capabilities that give homeowners an unprecedented level of insight into and control over their energy use. 😎
What makes a “Smart Panel” an upgraded electrical panel?
A Smart Panel can either replace or be added on to your existing electrical panel. Either way, it will have some additional components that allow it to gather real-time information about your home’s electricity use. 🏠⚡️
Each switch in your electrical panel corresponds to a specific electrical “load” in your house. In other words, each switch controls a circuit that feeds electricity to something that needs it, i.e. an appliance, a light fixture, a room’s outlets, etc. Smart Panels are able to collect information about how much electricity each individual load is consuming.
And, as you might have guessed, behind every Smart Panel is a Smart Panel app; that is where users can view all of the Smart Panel’s intel about their energy use. 📱
Having access to that information at a moment’s notice is pretty useful in and of itself. But the real draw of a Smart Panel and its app is the ability to use that information to make and immediately act on decisions that can reduce your electricity use and improve your home’s efficiency.
Why should I get an electrical panel upgrade? How are Smart Panels useful?
Within a Smart Panel’s app, you have access to all kinds of tools that can help you better monitor and control your energy use.
🎚️ You can turn loads on and off remotely
⏲️ You can set schedules and timers for loads to be turned on and off
✅ You can program your system to automatically prioritize important loads and turn off unimportant ones during…
🗻 Peak usage hours (to avoid your utility’s surge pricing)
🔋 While you are relying on a limited amount solar energy stored in a battery
🌚 While you are using a backup generator during a blackout
Using these features to your advantage can help you save money, reduce strain on the grid, and make your home more sustainable.
Are there any downsides to Smart Panels?
The biggest downside is the cost (isn’t it always?).
A Smart Panel that can just be added on to existing electrical panels will typically cost about $2000, not including installation. Smart Panels that replace an existing electrical panel cost about $3500, also not including installation.
One source estimates that all in, an integrated Smart Panel can cost between $6000 and $7500. 💸
These prices are admittedly steep.
But, if you have solar, a Smart Panel is definitely a worthwhile investment. It can help you use the electricity your system gathers from the sun more efficiently and further reduce your dependence on the grid, which will ultimately help you get the most bang for your buck. Plus, you can get some money back by applying for rebates.
If you don’t have solar, a Smart Panel may be less enticing; however, if you’re still interested, you should opt for one that can simply be added on to your existing electrical panel instead of getting a Smart Panel that has to be retrofitted into your house.
An electrical panel upgrade is one of the many things you can do to reduce your home's energy use, operation costs, and carbon footprint. To learn about other home energy efficiency upgrades, check out Wildgrid's free planning tool.