Our electric meter is on the driveway side of the house, and was struck by a car yesterday. It's just barely hanging onto the house with the screws, the wires look ok.

I've talked to an electrician, the wires on in a sheathing but not a pvc or metal conduit. The electrician recommends putting them in a pvc (light gray) conduit or could do metal for slightly more, or just reattach the box securely with no conduit added for 1/3 the price.

What does code/best practice say? Thanks!

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**Updated: I had an electrician replace with metal conduit, and a new meter socket. Thanks! **

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  • Can you get us more photos of this situation? – ThreePhaseEel Jan 19 '17 at 0:53
  • If you don't have a need to upgrade the service at this time, I'd just pay the reattachment price and be done with it? Is that a 60 amp service? – Tyson Jan 19 '17 at 1:06
  • I'll add a new photo in a minute of the whole wire, taken in the dark though with a flash. The main breaker in my box is 2 breakers connected, each say 100 on them, so is that 100 amp? – user20127 Jan 19 '17 at 1:28
  • Always thought it was silly, to put meters on the side of the house where a driveway runs right up against the house. – Tester101 Jan 19 '17 at 12:08
  • That looks great. Good decision! – BrianK Jan 23 '17 at 1:49

Get something installed to protect these conductors, before your car becomes permanently attached to your electrical service!

Considering that I spy an exposed SE cable below the meter pan, well in harm's way from errant cars and with only the utility's fuses protecting it from faults, I'd flag this installation as a violation of 338.12(A) point 1:

338.12 Uses Not Permitted.

(A) Service-Entrance Cable. Service-entrance cable (SE) shall not be used under the following conditions or in the following locations:

(1) Where subject to physical damage unless protected in accordance with 230.50(B)

(2) Underground with or without a raceway

(3) For exterior branch circuits and feeder wiring unless the installation complies with the provisions of Part I of Article 225 and is supported in accordance with 334.30 or is used as messenger-supported wiring as permitted in Part II of Article 396

and 230.50(B)(1):

(B) All Other Service-Entrance Conductors. All other service-entrance conductors, other than underground service entrance conductors, shall be protected against physical damage as specified in 230.50(B)(1) or (B)(2).

(1) Service-Entrance Cables. Service-entrance cables, where subject to physical damage, shall be protected by any of the following:

(1) Rigid metal conduit (RMC)

(2) Intermediate metal conduit (IMC)

(3) Schedule 80 PVC conduit

(4) Electrical metallic tubing (EMT)

(5) Reinforced thermosetting resin conduit (RTRC)

(6) Other approved means

So, you'll either need to have this service-entrance re-run with a conduit, or see if you can get your local electrical inspectors to sign off on using bollards (i.e. concrete-filled metal poles) to protect the meter pan and service cabling as Machavity suggests. Or you could do both, if you feel like taking a belt-and-suspenders approach to keeping your electric meter from being a hit-and-run victim.

  • Installations like this are quite common in my area, but I've never heard a tale of a car being welded to a building by service conductors. Hitting the meter with the mirror of the car (which I assume happened here), is a concern with this type of installation. But since the cable closely follows the outside of the building, I doubt any inspector would consider it do be in imminent danger and require protection. Now if the cable was near the bottom of the building where there was grass, I'd say it would need protection, as it would be in the path of a weed trimmer. – Tester101 Jan 19 '17 at 12:04
  • Obviously, if people are consistently dragging cars along the side of the house. Then sure, you should probably protect it. – Tester101 Jan 19 '17 at 12:06

Generally speaking (i.e. not NEC stuff), it's recommended that exposed wires be shielded in some form from physical damage. If this car had hit the wires instead of the box it could have electrocuted someone. Being in the driveway, you would probably want metal conduit, which would better withstand the impact of a car. Conduit just has fewer questions overall.

That having been said, the cheaper option is to just reattach it to the house and put a metal pole in front of it. That way cars will hit the pole first. If the wires are still in good shape, you could get by with it.

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