Almost a decade ago, I purchased an older home (constructed about 1955). At some point in the past prior to us living here, an indoor fuse panel was replaced with a proper breaker box... but this was sited on the exterior corner of the home rather than inside. It's not the first home I've lived in where this was done, but it is the first one that I've owned rather than rented.

As far as I understand it (which isn't much) nothing about the location of the panel is good. It's too high off the ground to be reached without a ladder, but still almost too far to be reached if standing on the deck. The panel doesn't have a main cutoff either.

With the exception of the air conditioner, all the wiring going into the house goes through a metal conduit from around the side of the house, where the conduit enters up under the eave and goes to the attic. The length of this conduit (and presumably, the wires inside of it) is approximately 17ft or so.

As it turns out, there is a not-too-horrible location inside our home where a panel could be located. This location is maybe about 15ft or so from where the conduit enters the attic. The location has an 8ft ceiling, it would have the 30" of width along the wall with nothing else (and maybe more like 4ft of it really), and would be clear of obstructions out to the 36" needed (more even, though I haven't measured).

Though I need to measure more carefully, I suspect that a new panel could be located there without really having to rewire anything internally.

I assume the meter next to the old panel would be moved so that it is on the exterior of this new location, with the panel being in the same place on the interior.

I have no idea what this would cost. I am not sure what (if any) of this I could do myself so that maybe an electrician is only needed for the disconnect/reconnect.

Is this a "budget another $1000 to the costs of your siding replacement project and expect power to be out for 3 hours" thing, or is it "they'll bring the inspector in and he'll nitpick every outlet and ceiling fan and your electrician will need 6 weeks to bring it up to code while you live in a motel the entire time"?

For that matter, if the new location would be on a wall on the side of the house, rather than the back, would that be rule out this idea entirely?

[edit] enter image description here

Diagram/floorplan not to scale.

@ThreePhaseEel The incoming service is overhead.

The red line shows the path of the conduit on the siding/exterior. This length is approximately 18ft, to the point where it enters the attic. The wiring inside the conduit is for the entire home with the exception of the AC unit.

If that wiring were re-routed to the proposed new panel location through the ceiling of the laundry room, it would be far less than 18ft (maybe as little as 12 if it runs diagonally right to where it needs to go). I've measured, and I'm +/-12in on these measurements.

The new panel would be in a laundry room, relatively close to the washer, but with the 30" wide space, 36" deep. There is no plumbing in the wall where the panel would go.

I assume that I'd end up putting a new meter box (and the fireman's cutoff) on the exterior of the wall, at the same place as the panel inside). I'd also have the conduit going up to the roofline (through it?) with the service entry caps and so forth.

With the panel in place, and ripping up the kitchen floor to put down new (even the subfloor will be out, it's pretty damaged in places), I'd be able to put electrical under the floor and to the laundry room for the AC, unconnected but ready to be used instead so that cut-over could be relatively quick.

Other improvements could be done at the same time. It's my understanding that washing machines and fridges are put on their own circuits nowdays. This would be relatively easy to do with the floor out.

The floor will need to be redone in the coming months regardless, and I wince thinking that if I do not plan this out carefully I will lose the opportunity to fix things relatively simply/cheaply.

Even considering getting the siding redone, such that a new meter box could go over the top of that.

Is any of this feasible, and is there any of this I can do myself (the cutover would need to be done by a professional of course)?

  • 1
    A diagram or rough sketch would help. Also a picture or two would be helpful.
    – SteveSh
    Nov 7, 2021 at 11:21
  • 1
    Is the incoming service to your house an overhead line or buried underground? Also, who do you have for an electric utility? Nov 7, 2021 at 13:35
  • Please edit to include pictures. That would be very helpful.
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 7, 2021 at 14:38
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    Typically that fireman's disconnect is simply the main breaker i.e. outside main breaker or meter-main. That solves a second problem: the power off the meter is totally unfused and nothing prevents 10,000 amps from flowing if a wire gets crushed or nailed through. As such, they will not allow a long cable run halfway across the house, they want the main breaker to be immediately after the meter. By going with a meter-main, you're free to place your "master panel" wherever you please. Nov 7, 2021 at 19:40
  • 1
    @JohnO -- they might have requirements for a meter/main disconnect combination, or specific requirements on how the service drop is routed that govern where the meter can be placed Nov 11, 2021 at 23:58


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