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I'm looking at moving my service drop (with cooperation from the utility, of course) from near the front entrance to the side of the house on a new addition that will be built (and covered with vinyl siding) this fall.

I see two options for mounting things to the wall:

  1. Mount the meter/main panel and the service entrance conduit directly through the sheathing and into studs, then detailing around everything with vinyl J-channel and siding up to it.

    • Con: In my mind, this leaves quite a bit of room for water to get in through any place that isn't perfectly caulked (i.e. all of them).
    • Con: I think that this would look funny (an off-topic opinion, I know, but important in my decision making).
    • Con: It makes the siding job much more complex by adding a lot of cutting and fitting to work around all the pieces.
    • Pro: It's simple and easy to mount the panel and conduit as I can see exactly where the studs are and can get them mounted directly to studs with no issue.
  2. Side the wall with vinyl then mount U-strut (or similar) and mount the panel to that. I'd imagine the conduit clamps could be mounted directly through the siding with a good glob of silicone in the hole/around the threads to prevent moisture ingress.

    • Con: I'd have to make careful note of where studs are to ensure that we get everything mounted properly.
    • Con: I have to buy the U-strut and appropriate mounting hardware, and get the strut lined up exactly with the mounting holes in the panel and with the studs.
    • Pro: It makes the siding part of the project much easier.
    • Pro: It seems to be a much "cleaner" install. (Again, an off-topic matter of opinion.)

I'm leaning toward option #2, but my wife likes option #1.

  • Are there any other Pros/Cons to the two options that I haven't thought of?
  • Are there any rules/regulations (NEC 2008) on how this should be done?
  • Are there other options that I haven't thought of that might work better?

We've looked at a number of new construction houses in our area, but few of them have vinyl siding and many seem to have underground service feeds so I haven't been able to find anything that seems representative.

Note: We will be working with an electrician to get the feeds to a new panel in the garage and the existing panel in the house set up properly. That isn't a part of this particular question.

4
  • Option #2 might(if not careful) lead to popping of the vinyl locking edge if the mounting of the meter/main is tighten too much. The studs should be able to have their position marked on the vinyl.
    – crip659
    Jul 12, 2022 at 15:16
  • Good point, @crip659. I'd probably have to put in a stand-off of some sort to prevent the U-strut from crushing the siding. I'm planning on marking stud locations before the housewrap goes on. Make sure they're somewhere that they can be seen after wrapping & siding.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 12, 2022 at 15:37
  • It should not be too bad, unless someone brings a new impact wrench and sees nuts.
    – crip659
    Jul 12, 2022 at 15:48
  • Looks around... Have you been to my house lately? :D
    – FreeMan
    Jul 12, 2022 at 15:55

5 Answers 5

2

I'm just gonna throw this out since I I did this a few years ago. Get a half dozen hanger bolts, (I used 3/8-16-3"). See picture below. https://www.albanycountyfasteners.com/38-16-hanger-bolts-zinc-plated-steel-p/1908-012.htm?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&adpos=&scid=scplp1908-012-0052&sc_intid=1908-012-0052&gclid=Cj0KCQjwguGYBhDRARIsAHgRm4_5QwbYeotgS73F_te83wxafBIjEPMjviiuyMbo9yadaMLcSvw4DnUaAhZvEALw_wcB

You can screw them into your framing exactly matching your meter can holes. Then add your sheathing and siding with the hanger bolts in place, sealing the holes as you go. Add nuts and washers to prevent the meter can from crushing the siding, then mount meter can with washers and nuts. Do the same thing for your service riser.

Or use the hanger bolts as described above but build your unistrut frame for the meter can. Use washers and nuts to offset the unistrut from the siding and mount your meter can and service riser.

enter image description here

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  • An excellent variation on jay613's answer. Thanks.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 7, 2022 at 13:13
  • Yup, Jay got the bounty for being the first to come up with the idea, but you get the check-mark for being more specific in your answer, especially the link and the note on personal experience. Thanks again!
    – FreeMan
    Sep 8, 2022 at 13:24
  • I hope you'll include pics of the effort and result! A thought: Depending on the size and rigidity of the meter can, if you use neither metal channel nor a board behind the meter, so it is held in place only at 4 or 6 small points, it's possible there will be some flex or movement. I may be wrong about this .... but I've always seen panels and large boxes installed where they have some solid backing adding to their overall rigidity, not just hanging free on the mounting screws.
    – jay613
    Sep 8, 2022 at 14:36
  • Rod porn
    – jay613
    Sep 8, 2022 at 14:48
  • @FreeMan You are too fair.... and yes, show final results..
    – JACK
    Sep 8, 2022 at 15:28
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I'd treat it very similar to how you treat a window opening.

I'd put it on the house wrap on top of the sheathing. I'd also have a header flashing with end dams that runs past the horizontal edges of the meter base.

I assume you have rainscreen on your house wrap. I'd have J channel or U channel that receives the edge of the vinyl siding (assuming you are doing horizontal laps).

3
  • To confirm, you're suggesting option #1 - mount the box directly to the wall then side around it? What about the conduit up to the weather head?
    – FreeMan
    Jul 12, 2022 at 16:55
  • 1
    yes option 1. conduit from weather head I'd put on the surface of the siding. Shouldn't be too hard to U bolt it and have it rest against the siding. Treat that more like a downspout. I'd likely paint it to match the siding before installing it. Jul 12, 2022 at 17:59
  • This is exactly how all the builders in my area do it on vinyl-sided houses. The meter box mounts directly to the sheathing after house wrap is installed. The factory knockouts automatically stand the conduit off the wall by 1.5-2", just enough for the siding guys to slide the vinyl planks behind. Conduit is left Sch80 grey. When the siding guys show up, they ring the box with J-channel and then slap the siding up. They don't usually bother with a header but it couldn't hurt.
    – Chris O
    Sep 1, 2022 at 16:06
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I'm not entirely certain about code, but here's an option #3:

Mount a waterproof or covered slab (plywood covered with aluminum siding sheething, the stuff the siding company covers the soffits with, etc) to the house wall, accounting for stud position. Make the slab the same size as the back-print of the meter main box. The thickness of the slab can be the same as the siding treatment, if desired.

Side around the slab in normal water-proofing siding methods.

Mount the meter main box to the slab.

This way, the slab handles the firm attachment to the house, the siding treatments waterproof the slab, and the meter box is held firmly to the slab.

1

When I need to add an item that will compress the siding like a ledger board, or in you case a meter screwed to the wall, I back fill the siding with the proper sized tapered wood siding. Yes you will still need to note the framing location for one stud, a meter is not that big or heavy nowadays. The holes can be sealed. Before the meter is mounted, make sure there is enough room for the piece of siding to expand. This way you have the siding running full behind the meter and the weatherproofing too.

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  • Does it matter what we say if your wife wants it cut into the siding? :). If MY aesthetic opinion matters ... I HATE the look of anything smaller than a window cut into vinyl siding with plastic channels and trim and so on. I like the approach in this answer. I think you're looking for additional pros/cons that will overpower the aesthetic consideration, but IMO that's the big one. Either do what your wife wants, and then the OTHER answers provide some useful approaches, or do what I want :) and then THIS answer, and hopefully others, can provide useful details.
    – jay613
    Sep 2, 2022 at 15:15
  • Valid points, @jay613, however, she is reasonable and if I have good reasons to not do something a certain way, she does listen. (Yeah, I know, I picked a good one!)
    – FreeMan
    Sep 2, 2022 at 16:17
1
+250

Not helping you decide but thinking about how I would do it given my preference for over-the-siding. I hate the way outlets, hose bibs, etc look when they are set into the vinyl and surrounded with all kinds of special vinyl-siding-related accessories and I think a meter would look similarly over-decorated that way.

Screw threaded rod (four or six as required for your meter main) with plastic standoffs into the studs when they are still open. Work around these these when installing the siding. Drill holes just big enough for the standoffs to poke through.

After completing the siding cut the rod and the standoffs to length as needed for your mounting method and seal the holes in the siding with silicone. The method can be U-strut if you want. Or perhaps a sheet of 3/4" composite board, that you can hopefully purchase in a color that matches the siding or the panel, otherwise use white composite and just paint the edges grey like the panel. The standoffs should be cut so the board just touches the siding and firmly attaches to the studs. Then seal all around with silicone.

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  • Ooh, I like this one! And I agree about all the fiddly bits of trim around things mounted in vinyl siding. We've already had to do a few items like this that are, fortunately, on the back of the house and reasonably hidden.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 2, 2022 at 16:39
  • You get the bounty for being the first to come up with the basic idea and for feeling my pain on all that J-channel around exterior wall furniture. Thank you very much! JACK is going to get the check-mark for providing providing the picture of the rod/bolt (whatever those are called), that I think will be the ticket I'll go with.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 8, 2022 at 13:23
  • Good job... congratulations, and yes, I hate the way people frame siding around items sticking out and "try" to make it look nice... and not leak (which it always does)
    – JACK
    Sep 8, 2022 at 15:26

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