There’s just something about buying an older home, whether it’s the classic built-in shelving, funky staircases, overall design, or any number of other nuances. Or maybe there’s a feeling that “they just don’t build them like that anymore.” In some cases, there’s a reason for that.

Homes built 80, 90, or more than a hundred years ago didn’t have to deal with the number of appliances that we have today. Even homes built more recently may not be equipped to deal with all of the technological advances of today, including the ability to charge an electric vehicle.

At the turn of the last century, knob and tube wiring was the norm. You may have seen this kind of wiring in your attic if your home is old enough. Basically, it’s wire wrapped in fabric and wrapped around ceramic knobs. One wire brought the power in and the other took it back out to complete a circuit.

Today, that kind of wiring poses an enormous fire risk. There is no ground wire, so any appliances that use three-prong plugs could cause a fire or electrical shock. Improper modifications (yes, there were DIY-types 80 years ago) make this type of wiring even more dangerous.

More “up-to-date” wiring might need replacing to handle all of the advanced technologies of today, too. Even if it’s changing out the panel to allow for more power, this is still an important step that should be taken to keep your home safe from overloaded circuits and possible fires.

If your wiring system uses aluminum wiring, you may find that connections continually loosen over time. This is because that kind of material expands and contracts when heated. Oxidation is also a concern with aluminum specifically, degrading the conductivity and even becoming a fire hazard.

How much does it cost to update electrical wiring?

Rewiring an entire house sounds expensive, doesn’t it? But the job doesn’t necessarily require taking out all of the existing wires and replacing them. In some cases, you may just need a new electrical panel or circuit box to handle all of the power you need to run your home.

Obviously, we can’t give estimates without actually seeing your home. But a 200 amp panel replacement can run anywhere from $1,000 to triple that depending on the location, access to where the power comes into the home, connections, and so forth. This is at the low end of what you can expect to pay to update your electrical system.

Are you planning to rewire a house as part of a complete renovation? This can actually be cheaper in the overall scheme of things. If there are open walls in the home and an electrician doesn’t have to cut holes to do electrical work, that’s one less thing they have to do and could save you money.

When thinking about the final price tag, we’ll need to include the cost of labor and materials (wiring, outlets, and switches for example). So while outlets themselves may not be that expensive, changing out 20 or 30 throughout the house can take a LOT of time.

All things considered, the average cost to rewire a home comes to around $10 to $20 a square foot. So if you have a nice little 800 square foot home, that will come to around $8,000 to $16,000. This is for rewiring projects and doesn’t include a new panel (which we covered earlier). Obviously, a small bungalow from the 40s will be much cheaper than a 3,000 square foot tri-level home.

Can updating electrical wiring save money?

In some cases, yes. With new wiring, conductivity is much improved, delivering power at established rates. This isn’t always the case with older wiring, which means the energy efficiency can be compromised. Because everything is “wired” nowadays, that could cost you money in the long run.

A new electrical system can also save money in the short term, too. With knob and tube wiring, your insurance may charge more or require higher deductibles because of the added danger. If you’re thinking of a whole-home rewire, talk with your insurance agent to see if the changes could help with coverage costs.

Work with experience

One of the main reasons for updating your electrical system is to ensure your home meets municipal codes. Those connections held together by electrician tape in the attic just aren’t going to cut it. Prairie Electric has been working in the Clark County and Portland Metro areas for decades and understands all of the regulations in both states.

And not just because we’re required by law. A home is probably the largest investment any of us will ever make in our lifetime. We want to make sure you and your family are safe, regardless of whether you’re living in a century-old home or one that was built last month. It’s simply the right thing to do.

If you’re considering a whole home electrical update, you need to replace a panel, or you’re adding square footage that needs power, reach out to Prairie Electric. We work quickly, safely, and have the experience to do the job right. We look forward to working with you.