Electrical panel upgrade - cost, strategy, etc.

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New User
New York
We've got a fairly small home in San Fran (2bd, 1ba, plus 1bd/1ba in the basement that is occasionally rented). The garage has actually worked out well for my shop, but as my needs have changed, the existing electrical setup's limitations are starting to come into play.

One of the major limitations shop-wise is that I only have one 220V circuit. Our panel doesn't have space for anymore breakers, but I think it's also older and undersized as far as breaker capacity (currently there are 7 20A, 3 15A, and 1 20A double pole). Service to the home, as I just found out this morning with a call to the power company, is 320A, a lot more than I expected.

Another reason a box with more capacity would be useful is rewiring the house, something I plan on tackling piecewise. It's nice to have a few extra breaker spots for new circuits that allow the old K&T wiring (still about 50% present, mostly in ceiling lighting circuits) to be cut short or removed. As we've remodeled the home, I've found various troubling things like K&T wire on 20A circuits, crowded junction boxes with scary connections, etc. I won't sleep easy until I know the K&T is 100% gone, but we also can't afford the $10k it would cost to rewire the house in one fell swoop.

While I am comfortable with wiring, I don't touch the panel, so I'll be getting professional help there. I'm wondering what I can expect to pay for a panel upgrade. Service in doesn't need an upgrade, the panel simply needs to be replaced to one with more breaker spots. Is it better to select and buy the panel myself? How many hours can I expect the electrician to need?​


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