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I feel this is a no-brainer (in that I should probably get someone more qualified in to do this) but I thought I'd ask some opinions.

I've just moved into a new place and one of the rooms is just big enough for me, my desk and my computer. It's my cave and I love it.

Only problem is, the mains breaker and the electrical meter are at the door and in a position that I'm likely to damage them accidentally one day...or just through wear and tear by passing by them frequently.

Is it an easy enough job to move the breaker and the meter up a bit, or should I just get someone in? I can wire plugs, fit sockets to the wall and that sort of thing - but this might just be a step too far.

And what sort of effort would it take a professional? Should it take him long / be expensive?

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The electric company will not be happy if you move the meter, contact them to do it. Keep in mind in most places you do not own the meter, so you cannot move, modify, or alter it in any way. – Tester101 Nov 19 '10 at 12:59
How far do you want to move the meter and panel? – Tester101 Nov 19 '10 at 13:04
@Tester101: I did that once in an apartment - noone cared. Depends on location. – sharptooth Nov 19 '10 at 13:31
Thanks for the responses all. I'd likely be moving it 4-5ft upwards, out the way of where my chair swings back. But yes, I'll look at getting a pro in (and hang over his shoulder to learn a bit about what he's doing!) – Spedge Nov 19 '10 at 16:52
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'll give the same answer I give to most electrical questions like this, call a professional.

Unless you have the knowledge and ability to handle any and all possible complications, this is a job well suited for a trained licensed professional.


As Mike B points out, there are also permit and other legal issues involved here.

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I completely agree! Aside from the possible involvement of permits and licenses, electrical main breaker work can be potentially dangerous. – Mike B Nov 19 '10 at 16:19
So what about cost? Would you imagine this to be an expensive task? – Spedge Nov 19 '10 at 16:53
@Spedge Costs are always a tricky topic because there's so many different factors involved (parts, permits, labor rates, etc). I'd suggest calling around and getting ballpark figures -- good electricians should at least be able to tell you a minimum. Also, beware of people that charge LOW LOW rates. Make sure they're fully licensed and bonded. – Mike B Nov 19 '10 at 17:16
@Spedge: Depends on your location, permits, and the amount of work involved. It's hard to say. The best bet is to call around and get some estimates. – Tester101 Nov 19 '10 at 17:21

Don't even think about doing this kind of job yourself. This is definitely a job for pros only. In most areas, the ONLY one authorized to break a meter seal is the power company itself. To change a meter location requires the power service to be turned completely off by them as well. Once the meter housing and main panel are installed in the new location, it usually requires a write off inspection from licensed Master Electrician or the local building inspector. The power company will not reconnect without one of these sign-offs.

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Ah, ok, good point. In the middle of moving (or really, starting with) a provider so I'll hang back until that's all squared away before doing the work. Good thoughts though, upvoted. – Spedge Nov 21 '10 at 21:52

The only two cases where some professional intervention is required are

  • if you decide to access the meter terminal block and the block is sealed - breaking the seal can cause legal trouble later
  • if any changes to the wiring need approval in your jurisdiction or if you rent the apartment and don't know how the landlord feels about rewirings.

Having said that, the job is quite easy - you need to just lengthen the wires paying attention to the following:

  • all connections must be super tight - every loose wire connection can overheat under load and can cause a fire
  • you can't connect copper and aluminiul wires directly - use terminal blocks for that
  • pay extra attention to not confuse wires and to not connect them improperly - in some cases you won't notice confusing non-phase wires until an electric shock hazard situation occurs
  • new wires should have right cross-section - it should be at the least the same as of existing wires you lengthen.
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Moving meters is definitely a job for the electric company, if for no other reason that you need to turn the power off to the meter to be able to work on it safely. – ChrisF Nov 19 '10 at 13:03
@ChrisF: Yes, that's reasonable. I didn't think of this since I never encountered wirings without a switch between the grid and the meter. – sharptooth Nov 19 '10 at 13:05
"all connections must be super tight" if you overtorque, you can damage the screw and possibly the wire. A torque screwdriver is useful. – Jay Bazuzi Jun 23 '11 at 4:35
@Jay Bazuzi: Maybe, but screws in such devices are usually rather huge and overtorquing them is not that easy. – sharptooth Jun 23 '11 at 7:42

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