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Doing a meter box upgrade, underground service in 2" EMT entering bottom of box. My new meter box has about 12" distance from bottom case to lugs, which is about 3" longer than the old. Ack!

Surely this happens to others. What are the options here?

  1. Request a new conductor wire be installed by the utility company?

  2. Lower the box down on the conduit? But this raises 2 more questions: how can you cut and thread the conduit with wires still inside (not likely possible), or how can you secure the conductor without threaded end if the threads are raised 3" above inside the bottom of the box)

  3. Have the utility company pull the wires back a couple feet so I can make cut and thread the conduit?

  4. Splice the main line? (I'm guessing no, but if yes, the power company would be very specific on their requirements)

Other options I am missing, besides finding a new box? (no time for that, plus I've spent days searching to settle on what I've got).

  • It's a bit late, but... 5) install box before POCO comes out to run the wiring... ;) Interesting problem, looking forward to seeing the recommended solution(s). – FreeMan Oct 12 '20 at 18:16
  • I think you've got the options layed out. Are you firm on the new box you will be using? or is it possible to source one which moves the lugs closer to the entrance? If you DO end up cutting the conduit and fitting it back with the box lower, there are cutters which minimize risk to the innards like a manual 4wheel pipe cutter from RIDGID. You still likely want to protect the inner wires with a hard sheath during the cutting. And you will need a different hub for the conduit, instead of your threaded one. Definitely talk to your provider to see what they can do (i suspect very little...) – mark f Oct 12 '20 at 18:18
  • Is the service riser in EMT (thin rigid metal without threads) or in GRC/RMC (the thick rigid stuff with threads on it)? Also, who's your electric utility? – ThreePhaseEel Oct 13 '20 at 1:15
  • I thought it was EMT, but it's pretty thick and no threads. It has a cap on top with a set-screw, and the cap is threaded so a standard nut can lock it down. A 2" compression connector would not fit, was just a wee too small, I tried it, weird. PacificCorp is the POCO. – dapug Oct 14 '20 at 17:24
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  1. If the conductors are to be replaced, the utility will likely require the new work to meet their current requirements. For my utility that would mean also replacing the 2" conduit with 3" -- they simply won't install a residential service in a 2" conduit anymore.
  2. There exist compression-style fittings for rigid conduit -- you don't have to have threads. Trimming the conduit to be a few inches shorter doesn't seem like a big deal. Conduit fill requirements mean there will be some space between the conductors and the inner wall of the 2". If the conductors are straightened well they might just fit into a 1-1/2" pipe (for example). That smaller pipe or other material could be slid down inside the 2" to serve as a shield and protect the conductors while the 2" conduit is trimmed and de-burred.

Other option: do some digging. If the underground service is direct-buried, ie it's not in conduit the whole way, and if it approaches the building at an acute angle (like, say 30 degrees; far from perpendicular) then it might be possible to move the meter sideways along the wall to gain a little more conductor length.

You should probably request a consultation with a field engineer from the utility to learn which options they'll support.

  • Yeah, new conductors would not only be a huge cost, but also take far more time. Necessary in some cases, nice to avoid in most. Just shortening the conduit to expose more wire would be the preferred method, but one CANNOT risk nicking the conductor/insulation. – dapug Oct 14 '20 at 17:25

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