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I'm working on an 8 slot 100A MSP that is a replacement for a fuse box. There are double taps and other abnormalities that have lead to power outages in some rooms of a client's home. I thought to upgrade it for more space and then thought to ADD CAPACITY for extra amperage as well, thinking of the future. But if that will mean changing the meter box and the supply wiring to the upgraded MSP (and other wiring along the house to the weathermain, then it will no longer be cost-effective for the client nor desirable for me to do so.

  1. Can I not just add a 250 amp box but leave the service at 100 amps? That way if the client does decide to upgrade service, the MSP will already be there.

  2. Isn't the utility company, DTE, responsible for interrupting power at the meter? The client says she talked to them and they said they don't have to come or and do it. "Hi I reached out to DTE and they told me it's wasn't any need to stop the service, is that fine?"

  3. If I open a digital meter box, will it simply reboot on its own When I close it?

  4. If I procced, will I need to change the MSP circuit breaker itself from the new 200A down 100A within that panel box?

Thank you, WL Bush

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  • Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Mar 13 at 12:11
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    Your asking and saying a client, means you cannot do this work. Non electricians cannot do electric work for other people. Can always use larger boxes and is usually recommended to go big. It is the feed breaker(100 amps) that cannot be bigger than the service. Power should be off unless you have special training/protective wear, so do not know why the power company does not want come out, unless a smart meter and they turn off remotely.
    – crip659
    Commented Mar 13 at 12:28
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    These are all questions that I would expect a electrician to already know, If you mess up here and cause a fire that's your liability and when their fire insurance finds out you did the work while not formally educated on this you will be personally liable for all damages. Don't pretend to be an electrician when you don't know the first thing about it. Commented Mar 13 at 12:35
  • Thanks @crip659. Was thinking that but in case I'm either forgetting or don't know some detail, it paid to ask. So I'll go with the larger box and leave the upgrade in conductors and current for another day. Thanks for your quick response. I'm still unsure if the digital meter will reboot but I've told the C. to contact DTE and advised her of the ramifications for not doing so. -w.
    – wlbush66
    Commented Mar 13 at 12:47

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As others have noted, these types of questions seem odd coming from a licensed electrician and only a licensed electrician can, in most jurisdictions, do this type of work. The exception is the homeowner themselves, which is allowed in many jurisdictions though the details (exam needed or not, main panel work allowed vs. only branch circuits, etc.) vary tremendously by jurisdiction.

That being said:

Can I not just add a 250 amp box but leave the service at 100 amps? That way if the client does decide to upgrade service, the MSP will already be there.

Absolutely. Typical is to install a 200A big panel (30 to 42 spaces). The catch is that if this is a true main panel (used to be the case, not always any more, more below) then the breaker has to match the service and (more critically for safety) the wire size between meter and panel. Which means either finding a big panel that has a small main breaker or, more commonly due to pricing, finding a big panel and swapping the included large main breaker for a smaller one.

Isn't the utility company, DTE, responsible for interrupting power at the meter? The client says she talked to them and they said they don't have to come or and do it. "Hi I reached out to DTE and they told me it's wasn't any need to stop the service, is that fine?"

It varies by utility. One typical setup is that the electrician notifies the utility that they will be doing work and the utility tells the electrician to pull the meter themselves, breaking the seal, and replace the meter when work is completed. After the work is inspected and approved, the electrician notifies the utility which replaces the seal. But if there is no advance notification then the utility can accuse the homeowner of tampering with the meter.

*If I open a digital meter box, will it simply reboot on its own When I close it?

Not necessarily open/close. Typically a digital meter fits the same base as a traditional analog meter. And just like a typical analog meter, when you pull it off the base it loses power and when you put it back on the base it starts up again. But in any case, it is a meter like any other. Meaning it can handle power outages and recover just fine. Internally it has a computer running everything, but it is designed to handle power outages and this is no different.

If I proceed, will I need to change the MSP circuit breaker itself from the new 200A down 100A within that panel box?

Yes. Unless all the wires before the main panel are already rated for 200A, which is very unlikely. The meter itself is very likely to be 200A rated, and there is a moderate chance the service drop is 200A rated (mine was but the utility replaced it anyway "because they always do", but they didn't replace the meter) but the wires from meter to panel are almost certainly not 200A rated.

IMPORTANT CHANGES

Depending on whether your utility and/or jurisdiction considers this a "service upgrade" vs. "just a panel replacement", you may be subject to new rules requiring an outside disconnect at or next to the meter. This is gradually rolling out across the country and varies a lot by jurisdiction. When I had my heavy-up done (1-1/2 years ago) my state was split - some counties required it, some did not. If this is required then you will likely need to replace the meter base with a meter main that includes a main breaker and then your new main panel is technically likely to be considered a subpanel. But not guaranteed - there are variations.

So it is worth checking with utility and/or inspector in advance of any work to determine whether these new rules apply in general and whether they apply to your client's specific situation. Too many variables to guess.

Even if the new rules do not apply, from a practical standpoint it makes sense to keep neutral and ground separate (i.e., grounds on ground bar rather than neutral bar) as much as practical in the new panel. That way if someday a meter main is installed (as part of a service upgrade and/or to add solar or other things) the main panel can be changed to a subpanel with very little actual work (primarily unbonding neutral from ground).

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    @ MM2C, Thank you for the detailed, HELPFUL, and appreciated response! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ -w.
    – wlbush66
    Commented Mar 14 at 13:23

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