Large house with attached garage. Overhead wires come to meter located at rear of garage....then running along-side 2 sides of house at great distance electrical & cable runs through an underground conduit to ultimately arrive at its final underground point to enter full basement & large main electrical panel.

We want to add a couple electrical appliances to studio located above garage...a great distance from main panel. Therefore, we want to know/confirm whether we need a particular electrical part to safely create a new service directly off meter box, coming into rear of garage, to then create a small sub-panel to service some new/additional electrical needs directly above garage in finished studio. We thought this would be easier than running new home runs all the way back to main panel in basement on opposite end of residential structure.

Please advise how we might do that & any other helpful info & guidance. Thank You!

  • Others here may have a better solution, but one that comes to mind is a "pass thru" panel. You would install it anywhere between the meter base and your existing panel. A pass thru panel allows you to run the full 200 amps through it and on to your current panel. Other ideas? Commented May 20, 2020 at 15:55
  • 1
    Your location in the world would be helpful to know, as electrical services differ and it's not clear from the question. Details/pictures of your meter and main would also be helpful. It's conceptually simple but can be difficult / expensive (possibly moreso than a long run back to the garage) to retrofit in practice.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 16:21
  • Does the NEC allow a long run of cable from the meter to the panel? This long run would seemingly not be protected by an over-current breaker. Commented May 20, 2020 at 16:30
  • @jim Stewart , some jurisdictions allow the cable to be routed on the exterior but once it enters the building normally conduit is required. One area I have done a large amount of work in the past has the main service panel in the center of the home fed by conduit, the thinking was (I think) shorter runs for all the branch circuits. Today code requires a main outside , I like this as remodels are much easier less hassle trying to have the meter pulled can’t do that without a fine from the power company unless an emergency any more.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 17:41
  • I'd like to see a photo of that meter-main, with openable doors open (DO NOT break any power company seals). Most new StackExchange accounts are cookie based. Register it (tie it to an email/FB/Google login) and you will be able to log in from different browsers/devices, e.g. the phone you'd use to take photos. Commented May 20, 2020 at 18:59

3 Answers 3


By modern code in the US you will need a disconnect outside, then both panels could be fed from that. Putting the disconnect close to the meter would be the easiest way and a disconnect that has or can accommodate double lugs to feed the other panel.

  • Yes to the double lugs.+
    – JACK
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 17:23
  • Can an outside disconnect be added next to an existing 50-year-old meter socket? Commented May 21, 2020 at 17:43
  • It depends if it is in good shape it should not be a problem, I have worked on very old electrical systems the oldest was mounted on slate and was in better shape because of the quality parts used. Mounting the disconnect to the side will allow the long wire run to be used. Once you have a way to turn the power off adding the sub becomes much easier , and a single main outside to kill the power in case of fire or?
    – Ed Beal
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 18:20

Assuming you are in the US or Canada:

Is there a Main Breaker in your meter panel, or is it a meter socket all by itself?

From the meter to the Main is considered your "Service Entrance" and that first device must be listed as "Suitable for Use as Service Equipment" (affectionately called Susie Labeled because of S.U.S.E.). So if your meter is just a socket, then that panel in the basement is your Service Entrance. If you were to install anything ahead of it, then THAT new panel would become your Service Entrance and you would have to follow all of the rules entailed in that, then you would have to make alterations to your existing panel in the basement, because it would become a "sub-panel" and the Neutrals and Grounds would have to be separated (they can only be combined in the SUSE panel). If on the other hand there is a Main Breaker in the meter socket now, then what you are calling your "Main" panel in the basement is probably already a sub-panel, so you could add another one ahead of it with feed-through lugs going to that existing panel.

So as others said, details matter, INCLUDING where you are located (the Stack Exchange is international) and exactly what you have in place now.


If you have a meter main and you use seu to go in the house and don’t put an emergency disconnect sticker on the meter main then yes indoor has to be a sub panel if you put an emergency disconnect sticker at the meter main and service disconnect inside the house on house panel the panel does not have to be made a sub panel if you put no emergency disconnect sticker amd just a service disconnect sticker on the meter main and feed it with ser you can keep the house panel exactly the way it is just add a surge protector

  • 2
    Welcome to Home Improvement! This answer could certainly use an edit to include some punctuation, since it's one giant, run-on sentence. Also, please quote a code reference for the requirement of the "emergency disconnect sticker" - not every locale is using the same version of NEC so including a year is helpful. I'm trying to parse this, but somewhere around the "service disconnect inside the house..." I'm getting really lost - formatting and sentences will help make this much more understandable. Finally, what does the surge protector have to do with the original question?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 13:01
  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 15:55

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