Switchboard Upgrades: All You Need to Know

Isaac Jamieson
An electrician in a hard hat is working on an electrical panel.

Switchboards are the heart of any home’s electrical system. A switchboard is the main distribution point for electricity in your home, and its primary function is to regulate the current coming from the main source of electrical power and safely distribute it to the branch circuits in a house. 

In other words, switchboards allow electricity to safely flow to the various circuits in your house, powering your powerpoints, lights, appliances such as cooktops, electric devices and equipment while protecting them all against electric overloads.

Why do you need a switchboard upgrade?

Switchboards are an integral part of a household electrical grid and should be checked regularly to ensure the safety of your devices, home and family. Newer switchboards have inbuilt safety switches, lowering fire and shock risk. Additionally, upgrading your switchboard will improve your home’s electrical system and efficiency, lowering the risk of circuit breakers constantly tripping and blowing fuses due to electric overloading.

The most common reasons for needing a switchboard upgrade are:

  •  You have an old switchboard that is not safe.
  •  Your switchboard was damaged in a fire or flood.
  •  Your switchboard does not cope with your current electrical demands, and you’ve been experiencing issues such as regular fuse blows or circuit trips, or a burning smell from your switchboard,
  •  You have renovated or extended your house, and your switchboard needs to be adapted to your home’s new configuration.
  •  Your new solar system requires the installation of its own switches and additional circuit breakers.

How do you know if your switchboard needs upgrading?

As your home ages, there may come a time when you need to replace your switchboard. Here are some of the signs your switchboard needs upgrading:

  • The age of your home: if your home is old, or you are unsure as to when your switchboard was installed, get an electrician to take a look, as older switchboards pose a much higher risk of electrical shock and fire
  • Flickering lights: while this can happen for several reasons, the issue is likely related to your switchboard and wiring. Circuit breakers constantly tripping: power failures that trip your circuit breakers and turn off your home’s power are usually caused by overloaded switchboards and circuits. Ceramic fuses: A switchboard with ceramic fuses instead of circuit breakers needs to be upgraded as soon as possible, as ceramic fuses can pose serious fire and safety risks. 
  •  Overcrowded or old wiring: If the wiring in your switchboard appears to be overcrowded or old, it’s highly recommended to get a professional out to take a look and check if it’s time for an upgrade.
  •  Noises, sparks and shocks: If you can hear buzzing and sizzling noises, or you get sparks or mild shocks when plugging appliances, get an electrician out to take a look as soon as possible. There are issues with the switchboard or wiring of your home that put you and your family at risk.

Switchboard upgrade regulations in Queensland 

The Queensland Government has stated its longstanding commitment to increasing electrical safety in the community by requiring the installation of safety switches in domestic premises.

Homes in Queensland must comply with the relevant wiring standards when they are built and with additional legislative requirements when sold or rented out.  

The following situations for domestic homes are required by law in Queensland:

All new homes built or extended after 1992 but before 2000  

Safety switches have been compulsory on all new homes in Queensland since 1992. Safety switches must also be fitted to all power point circuits when a new electrical installation occurs, such as a general power outlet (GPO).  

All new homes built or extended after 2000  

Safety switches have been compulsory on all power point and lighting circuits for new Queensland homes built since 2000, following the change in Wiring Rules.  

Homes with the electrical installation extended to include additional lighting and power point circuits are required to have safety switch protection on both lighting and power point circuits. This additional safeguard protects against electric shock, overloads, short circuits and fire. 

Buying a property  

You must install a safety switch for the power point circuits within three months of any transfer of domestic premises. This applies to any transfer of premises. 

Selling a property  

A safety switch is required on all power point circuits in apartments and homes. It is a condition of any property sale and must be declared on the standard sales contract form alongside any other conditions or Form 24 Property Transfer. 

Renting a home  

Any landlord renting out a home must ensure that the power points within six months of the tenancy agreement have a safety switch installed if no one is installed. 

Switchboard upgrade cost

When it comes to switchboard upgrades, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and several factors must be taken into account to estimate the cost of the upgrade, including:

  • The size of the switchboard 
  •  The switchboard capacity 
  •  The cabling required 
  •  The wiring situation 
  •  The complexity of the upgrade

Therefore, it is best to speak to your local electrician, who can provide a detailed quote specific to your home situation.  

Your local switchboard upgrade specialists

A switchboard upgrade is an investment in the safety of your home. Tenmen Electrical truly understands how important your home is to you, and we will take extra care to provide you with the best solution and ensure all your electrical installations are up to code.

The team at Tenmen Electrical can help with all your switchboard issues and concerns. We offer switchboard upgrades and replacements to the highest industry standards and inspections, repairs, and replacements of any faulty equipment to ensure your property is safe and secure.

To book a service or request a quote, call 1300 836 636

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About Isaac Jamieson

Electrician, and refrigeration mechanic with over 12 years of experience, Isaac is the founder, director and driving force behind Tenmen Electrical.

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