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I am installing an Emporia Vue 2 energy monitor by myself (possibly) and am trying to assess the safety of doing so. My house is equipped with a 200A emergency service disconnect outside, the invoice from when it was installed reads

"Install new 200A service disconnect outside of the house for emergency service disconnect. Complies with NEC code 230.82(3) required emergency disconnect to be labeled and readily accessible from outside of house. 2/0 wire from meter to disconnect and from disconnect to panel. Includes bonding disconnect can".

My main concerns are:

Even after turning off the main breaker inside, I am aware that wires entering the service box are still live. However, if I flip the external emergency service disconnect, will there be any live wires inside the breaker box?

Will I be fined if I flip this emergency service disconnect?

I'm willing to call a professional if necessary but wanted to get insights from here first.

Here are pictures of my service box as well as the disconnect:

meter + closed disconnect box breaker box emergency disconnect

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    They put on locks on meters(small wire in plastic) so people did not do stuff with the meter and steal power. A disconnect can only turn off power and doubt if there is a lock on it. If you can work in the panel will depend on your local regulations.
    – crip659
    Oct 10, 2023 at 13:16
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    A picture of your external meter and emergency service disconnect would be helpful. I would think that these are together in one unit, but there's no requirement that they be. My presumption is that if you flip the switch outside, you'll have completely killed power to the whole house (that is the point of such a switch), but a picture would help people confirm. It's highly unlikely that you'd be fined for turning off power to your own house on your side of the meter, but checking your local regulations would be the only way to know for sure.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 10, 2023 at 13:26
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    Electricians typically work under "lockout tagout" so that nobody else can energize their work. It's unwise to rely on that service to remain de-energized if you can't lock your switch into the off position.
    – popham
    Oct 10, 2023 at 14:22
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    @FreeMan I added the requested pictures, based on these do you think its safe to do a DIY install? i.e. if i disconnect and test that no voltage is coming through the mains I can install the device myself? Is flipping the emer disconnect the same as flipping the main disconnect in the breaker box? Or is power still coming through into the breaker box from the wires BELOW the main breaker? That's the main thing I'm worried about, those wires still being live while im working in the box.
    – terrabl
    Oct 10, 2023 at 17:17
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    The wires below (in your install; more generally to) the main breaker are the wires that come from the service disconnect. It wouldn't be a service disconnect if it didn't shut them off.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 10, 2023 at 17:20

3 Answers 3

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Note that a service disconnect was installed outside to serve the purpose of an emergency service disconnect (i.e. so firemen don't get electrocuted, and don't have to crawl through the basement or wait for a power company truck to shut off power.)

No emergency is required to use the service disconnect. You can shut it off whenever you like, for whatever reason, such as not killing yourself while installing an energy monitor.

As noted in comments, you should lock it off when working. You should also make use of your method of choice (mine is a multimeter, some prefer non-contact voltage testers) to verify that power is indeed off before commencing work.

Additional note: if this device requires disconnecting and reconnecting wires to install it (to slip current transformers over them, for example) don't even think of starting until you have adequate tools on hand to properly torque the connecting screws to the specifications of the manufactuerer. Both too tight and too loose are bad, you must use a torque screwdriver, and/or for large connections a torque wrench to tighten them properly. Not doing so is a great way to start a very hot fire with electrical arcs.

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  • I love my non-contact tester, but it is not for zero energy verification.
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 10, 2023 at 16:02
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    This device (emporia vue 2) requires no screws, all I'm doing is basically putting a device around the wires of the main power and around the wires going into the breaker. Here is a youtube video of a guy installing it. youtube.com/…
    – terrabl
    Oct 10, 2023 at 17:18
  • @terrabl you'll be doing that inside your CH panel inside. The Sense does not benefit from interacting with the outside disconnect. Face the "to breakers" side to the branch circuit breakers, not the main. Oct 10, 2023 at 17:43
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    Great answer. You do have to make three connections in the panel. The Vue device itself requires power. You have to disconnect the wires from two breakers, and splice them and the Vue back to the breaker with a pigtail. The third is the neutral. For the load-side CT clamps you do not have to disconnect wires, but you may have to significantly jostle and rearrange them to get the clamps into position, and if any of the breakers are not torqued properly you may introduce problems so it behooves you to check the torque on anything you touch as part of this install.
    – jay613
    Oct 10, 2023 at 17:50
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    @JonCuster Why not? I'm not a professional electrician, but I regularly see non-contact testers recommended to check that circuits are deenergized (assuming that you first test with a circuit known to be live to ensure the meter itself is working). Oct 11, 2023 at 16:07
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OK so there are 2 separate areas of interest to your "get fined" question. There's the meter pan area, and the customer area. The power company has a pretty big stake in you not opening up the meter pan and tapping it or rigging a bypass to steal power. As such, they put utility company seals on it, so tampering can be detected. You can bust the seals, but you'll need to talk with them so they can mark a valid reason for broken seal and have someone replace it next time they're on your block for something else. If they Just Find It broken, you will be accused of stealing power.

Don't break any power company seals.

However, other than that, all the equipment is customer equipment which are the domain of you, as the customer. Not only are you allowed to touch that disconnect, you should be acclimated to touching it, and doing it quickly if needed.

And yes, you had that panel replaced within the last few months in a state which adopts NEC 2023 very early. That meant the interior panel replacement triggered a requirement for an outside disconnect.

Your best bet is to put the energy monitor in the interior panel. There's no benefit to it being in the outside disconnect. The main CT sensors have a "toward breaker" orientation, and that means toward the branch circuit breakers since your indoor panel does not have a main.

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  • Awesome, yeah it makes me feel a lot safer working within a new panel that has no power coming into it due to the emer disconnect. I'd probably hire an electrician to do this if any part of the panel I'm working in is hot. I might have confused you but yes I was always going to put it in the interior panel, I was mostly wondering (and should have better explained), are the phases coming into the interior panel off (not hot) when I shut off the emer disconnect, and it seems like the answer is YES.
    – terrabl
    Oct 10, 2023 at 18:58
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    I rather suspect the 150A breaker on the bottom is a main, and this is a panel which, like mine, has the main on the bottom, probably for the same reason (power enters from the bottom, and unless the panel isn't listed for both directions, then it just makes sense...
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 10, 2023 at 22:12
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    @ecnerwal I hadn't even noticed that 150A braeker. Why on earth spend money to change that out from 200 to 150 when the main is 200A? I'm sure the panel's internal busing is 225A. Probably something about the solar 120% rule better ways to do that... Oct 11, 2023 at 19:37
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Once your main breaker on your panel is off, you are free to work inside if you stay away from the mains which are still live. (That said, you should always check that nothing else in the panel is energized before starting work.

From the screenshots I've seen of the Emporia Vue 2, it functions like most energy monitors. There are clamps that go around each of the mains. These cables should be well-insulated and you shouldn't have a problem putting a clamp around them while they are live. You just need to make sure to stay way from any exposed wires and the lugs they are connected to.

That said, if you're not comfortable doing this, there should be nothing wrong with using the emergency disconnect. After you shut off the disconnect, you should be able to use a non-contact voltage tester to confirm that the main breaker is no longer live before opening the panel.

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  • @Ecnerwal True, I misspoke and I just removed that part of the answer since it's not really relevant. Oct 11, 2023 at 15:42

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