Upgrading Your Switchboard

An old, out-of-date switchboard is a serious potential hazard to your family and property. Bayside Electrical strongly recommend a switchboard upgrade wherever possible. Regardless of the potential danger posed by a degraded and under-equipped switchboard, a planned upgrade can save you time and money when compared to an after-hours callout and emergency overhaul.

What Is A Switchboard?

The switchboard is what connects your house electricity to the main street powerlines. We all understand that powerlines are incredibly dangerous, and with that in mind, it’s easy to see how important it is to have your switchboard up-to-date and professionally installed.

Most of us think of the switchboard as ‘just the thing you go to, to flip a breaker switch’ after something has tripped. Don’t let your switchboard’s similarity to other electrical appliances fool you – all the power of everything in your house goes through that small panel. It should be finely tuned to each circuit, plug, switch and socket. The consequences of a mismatched, worn or degraded switchboard can be devastating and unpredictable.

Why Is It Essential To Upgrade Your Home’s Switchboard?

There are many reasons to upgrade your home switchboard, and safety is the most important.

At Bayside Electrical, we’ve often seen switchboards that are more than 60 years old. Exposed copper wires ‘rust’ over time. Degraded wires increase resistance and create hot points – literally hot to touch – which can lead to failure and electrical fire. Other common problems with ancient switchboards include insulation degradation, loose terminals, animal ingress, DIY house extensions and inadequate-gauge wires, the list goes on. Each is a disaster waiting to happen.

Electrical safety has come a long way in the past few decades. Modern switchboards can have multiple fault detection and protection devices on each in-home circuit. But one of the most essential of these devices (the RCD) was only made compulsory in 2003, and so there’s a good chance that your switchboard isn’t as modern as you’d like to think.

The down-stream effects of a lack of switchboard protection include greatly reduced safety of your appliances, electronics and power outlets. The risk of fire and electrocution can be minimised with an up-to-date switchboard.

Before And After

Pre-Upgrade Switchboard

When we arrived.

During Upgrade Switchboard

Photo of new switchboard.

Switchboard Upgrade Services Sheet

Photo showing the key map.

Post-upgrade Switchboard

Photo showing the switchboard and the key map.

4 Must-Have Devices To Ensure Protection

Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are the modern form of the old wire fuses. When too much electricity flows through a circuit protected by a circuit breaker, the breaker ‘trips’ and cuts off supply. This is crucial because the wires in your walls can only carry so much electricity before they get hot and start a fire. Circuit breakers protect against ‘overloading,’ and are rated specifically for your building’s wiring. Installing the wrong fuse or circuit breaker is a common cause of faults and fires.

Although it used to be common practice, we recommend that you don’t change the wire in wire fuses yourself. Instead, call Bayside Electrical and get the whole fuse unit replaced with the correct circuit breaker.


Residual Current Devices (RCDs) are essential devices that protect people from electric shock. They detect electricity that is going into something it shouldn’t – like your hand – and shut it off in a tiny fraction of a second. RCDs were only made compulsory on switchboards in 2003, but were common in bathrooms and wet areas before then. RCDs have saved countless lives.

Arc Fault Protection

Arc faults are strange and terrible faults that can act just like a faultless circuit; meaning they can’t be picked up by circuit breakers or RCDs – leading to fire. Thankfully, technology has advanced and Arc Fault Detection Devices (AFDDs or AFCIs) have been introduced. Just as RCDs were made compulsory in 2003, Arc Fault Detection Devices will soon be made compulsory for new circuits.

Surge Protection

We’re all familiar with ‘black outs,’ where we lose power. Electrical surges are the opposite, where we get more power than we want. A surge is when the normal 240 v supply to your building suddenly increases, overloading all your plugs and appliances and potentially causing property damage or worse. Surges can happen due to electrical network issues, lightning strike, or even ‘solar storms.’ Surge Protectors are a cheap and sensible addition to your switchboard, especially if you are running sensitive electronic equipment like computers or commercial equipment.

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MASTER Electrician is a member of the Electrical Contractors Association of New Zealand and has met the high safety standard and commercial criteria by the association.



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