Electric Panels for the 21st Century
Benny Zank, Tim Minezaki, Eliot Stein, Energy Solutions
Action on climate change is increasingly urgent and transforming the United States’ existing housing stock will play a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Converting homes across the country to all electric buildings outfitted with high efficiency technologies and electric vehicle infrastructure will be pivotal in helping shift our nation away from fossil fuels. Yet, the electrical panels that manage the flow of electricity into our homes are largely unprepared for the significant increase in demand that will come from fuel switching. To ensure safe and reliable home electrification we must upgrade the capacity of these panels as early in the decarbonization process as possible so that they are a tool for accelerating decarbonization, rather than a hindrance.
In this paper, we investigate electric load increases that will result from decarbonizing our homes, which demonstrates the need for 200 amp (A) electric panels. Next, we look at current building codes across the country and provide insight into how they could better initiate the upgrades our calculations suggest are needed. We explore how incentives, as well as contractor and customer education, could successfully support policy compliance. We also recognize the challenge and infrastructure strain of upgrading nearly all electric panels nationwide and offer alternatives to these upgrades.