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You wouldn’t think of buying a home that lacked any electricity whatsoever — but millions of homeowners invest in properties that boast outdated or unsafe electrical components. It’s more than likely that some aspect of your electrical system needs attention, especially if your home is more than 15 years old and hasn’t seen a major renovation in recent years. Fortunately, most electrical upgrades are fast, easy and affordable, meaning you can make your electrical system run better sooner. Consider your need for the following electrical upgrades in your home:
There are more electrical devices in the modern home than there ever have been before. Not only do you need to plug in lights and major appliances, but you need outlets for televisions, speakers, computers and all manner of smart and mobile device. What’s more, it’s no longer necessary to keep outlets hidden; in fact, because you and house guests need access to outlets for chargers and other tech, it’s more convenient to have outlets out in the open. Thus, if you only have one or two full or inconvenient outlets in your rooms, you should consider upgrading your home with more.
Admittedly, this is more of a repair than it is an upgrade. Still, it’s important to note that over time, outlets begin to lose their functionality. The most obvious failure, aside from an outlet that no longer provides power, is an outlet that cannot keep hold of a plug. If your plugs continue to fall out of your outlets, you should replace your outlet, stat. Otherwise, you could experience more severe symptoms of your aging outlet, like arcing and sparking. In fact, you can read more about electrical safety here: https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/quick-tips/electrical-safety-tips-for-your-home/
While we are on the subject of outlets, you might as well invest in outlets that come with USB ports, especially in the most visible outlets in your home. Most charger cables have one side that plugs into a device and the other side as a USB, allowing it to slip into computers, external batteries, wall plugs or, if available, walls themselves. USB outlets are advanced features that make your home stand out, and it’s unlikely they’ll become obsolete any time soon.
Another outlet-related issue, ground-fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs, are special outlets that help avoid arcing and electrocution in areas more likely to experience these phenomena. In most areas, GFCIs are required in kitchens, bathrooms and home exteriors because these outlets are more subject to moisture, which can cause problems. However, homes built before GFCI codes are grandfathered in, meaning you don’t necessarily have to make these changes — you just should, for your safety and the safety of future homeowners.
Believe it or not, your electrical panel can get old. Over time, the wires in your electrical panel can fray, the metal components can rust and the panel can overall operate less efficiently, increasing your energy bill and your risk of fire or electrical injury. Homes built since 1989 desperately require an upgraded electrical panel, especially if you or previous homeowners have renovated or remodeled without touching the panel. However, it’s important to note that not all electrical panels are created equal; you can learn more about different brands and features here: https://www.thespruce.com/do-circuit-breaker-brands-matter-3969935
Just as copper pipes are ideal in plumbing, copper wiring is ideal in your electrical system. Unfortunately, in the middle of the 20th century, many American homes were built with aluminum wiring due to a widespread copper shortage. While aluminum conducts electricity as well as copper, it is much more malleable; over time, aluminum wires compress in walls and outlets, which can cause dangerous arcs. If your home was built or remodeled in the ‘60s or ‘70s, there’s a good chance you have some aluminum in your system, and you should upgrade that to copper as soon as possible.
Now, onto some more fun electrical upgrades — like dimmer switches. Replacing plain-old toggle switches with dimmers is a good way to give you more control over the lighting in your environment, allowing you to fine-tune the illumination in your space for any event. There are a variety of different styles of dimmer switches, and your available options depend on a number of factors, including:
- The type of bulb in your light fixture
- The light fixture’s wattage
- The number of switches controlling the light
- The control style you prefer
Remote-control lights are exactly what they sound like: lights controlled by a remote you can use from anywhere. Unlike traditional lights, which require you to reach the switch to modify their illumination, remote-control lights give you greater access to your lights, adding convenience.
However, it’s important to note that remote-controlled lights are slowly but surely being replaced in the market by smart lights. Like remote-controlled options, smart lights can be turned on and off from afar, but many also allow you to change the color of the light, create light effects and more. Plus, smart lights connect to a smart home hub, meaning you can control your lights when you are away from home, by setting a schedule or by using your voice. Because smart lights — and smart home automation in general — seems to be the way of the future, this might be a worthwhile upgrade for you. You can read more about other smart home tech here: https://www.cnet.com/topics/smart-home/best-smart-home-devices/
Landscape lighting might not seem like a valuable upgrade — but it is. Extending your electrical system to lights around your landscape allows you to create more visual interest and drama around the exterior of your home, and it can keep your home safer from intruders. There is a wide variety of landscape lighting options, such as:
- Pathway lights. These are the most common landscape lights and serve to illuminate walking spaces.
- Well lights. These are lights built flush with the ground, so lawn mowers or foot traffic can safely pass over them.
- Floodlights. These are often connected to motion sensors and placed near break-in spots, like the garage.
- Wash lights. These are a specific type of floodlight meant to be directed at a wide, flat surface, like a wall or lawn.
- Uplights. These serve to highlight tall features of your landscape, like a noteworthy tree or trellis.
Whether you are upgrading your fixer-upper to the modern era or taking a gorgeous home to the next level, electrical upgrades are worth your time, energy and money.