Upgrading Switchboard

We are about to replace a gas stove with an induction cook top & electric oven. One Electrician advised our switchboard is too small. We have solar panels & solar HW. I queried the need for 24 poles. He then advised a 17 pole will not fit in our current space. There is a spare 2 poles in place. Not being an expert, the 2 poles should be enough?


Space for additional breakers/switches is one issue, the other is whether the board meets current standards. Standards have been evolving and a board installed a few years ago might not meet current standards. Some network operators require boards to be upgraded to current standards when any electrical work is performed on the board, such as adding additional circuits.

It might be best to ask the electrician:

  1. Why the board needs upgrading - is it a space limitation or a network operator requirement to meet current standards?
  2. If it is a space limitation, why aren’t the two spare spaces sufficient for the additional circuits (as a minimum you may need at least 2 spare spaces, one for the oven and one for the cooktop - each with their own circuit and breaker).
  3. If space is a limitation and wider breaker is needed (taking up 2 spare spaces meaning you may need 4 spaces for separate oven and cooktop circuits), is it possible to get a narrow switch/breaker with the same rating to avoid an upgrade?
  4. If it is a network requirement to meet current standards, there may be little option other than accept the upgrade.

Edit It would also be worth getting a second quote if you aren’t happy with the response of the electrician.


It’s always advisable to obtain more than one quote. There are some useful questions in the prior post by @phb, which any quoting electrician should be prepared to answer.

We’ve had major upgrades of the switchboard (aka meter or fuse box) and a sub-board in three homes to current standards. Two were followed by PV installations. The extent of the work required varied in each instance.

If your switchboard meets accepted standards and the only issue with your switchboard is inadequate spare room there may be other options suggested by alternate quotes. Whether a sub-board in or near your kitchen is possible is worth asking. It may also be possible to replace or reconfigure some of the existing circuits and circuit breakers to create the space required.


Some of the major appliance retailers have their own consultants who can come to your place and tell you what you need, e.g. do you need to replace the switchboard, what size circuit do you need, roughly how much would installation cost, etc. They do charge a fee, e.g. I was quoted $99 from one such firm. I didn’t go ahead as I’m happy with a portable induction cooktop for now, but if I ever decide to install an induction cooktop would get their advice as I have other questions.

Also it’s worth getting other quotes, but do keep in mind any legal requirements and future needs. For example, I got three quotes to install reverse cycle air conditioning. I knew I didn’t have enough spare spots for circuits. Two said I needed a new switchboard while one said they could install an additional sub-board or something like that. Given that my switchboard was decades old, didn’t have RCDs and may have had other issues due to evolving safety standards, I decided to replace the switchboard.

So basically:

  1. Get several quotes and maybe some additional advice
  2. Find out what is legally required.

And I agree with phb, find out if it’s space limitation or safety requirements, etc.

One final thought, perhaps the reason your electrician suggested a 24 pole switchboard rather than a 17 pole one is that a 17 or 18 pole switchboard would have one row, and would be too wide for your meter box, while a 24 pole switchboard would have two rows of 12, so wouldn’t be as wide. This is just a guess though, based on a quick internet search.


A recent New POWER board installation. 2 phase/neutral supply WITH 2 main fuses. Two smart meters, 1 solar meter THE other POWER and OFF peak HWS. Lower CB rack, are main isolator, solar, stove/oven , power/light circuits, 2 shed circuits, HWS CB and day/night HWS change over switch. There is ample room for more circuits/CBS or a GPO on the board. Dont go for a cheap option.


Nice switchboard but that breaker key document is pretty special in context.

Suggest you buy and apply proper labels. it does not reflect well on the sparky that he did a good job and only delivered that for the labelling. When my box got upgraded every breaker was labelled with a sticker and in case one fell off, a Sharpie index. Or is there more than just what is seen in your photo?


It’s my neighbour’s power board, he has vacated the premises and the house is on the real estate market.
Labelling is a 5 minute job.