6

I feel this is a no-brainer (in that I should probably get someone more qualified in to do this) but I thought I'd ask some opinions.

I've just moved into a new place and one of the rooms is just big enough for me, my desk and my computer. It's my cave and I love it.

Only problem is, the mains breaker and the electrical meter are at the door and in a position that I'm likely to damage them accidentally one day...or just through wear and tear by passing by them frequently.

Is it an easy enough job to move the breaker and the meter up a bit, or should I just get someone in? I can wire plugs, fit sockets to the wall and that sort of thing - but this might just be a step too far.

And what sort of effort would it take a professional? Should it take him long / be expensive?

  • 7
    The electric company will not be happy if you move the meter, contact them to do it. Keep in mind in most places you do not own the meter, so you cannot move, modify, or alter it in any way. – Tester101 Nov 19 '10 at 12:59
  • How far do you want to move the meter and panel? – Tester101 Nov 19 '10 at 13:04
  • @Tester101: I did that once in an apartment - noone cared. Depends on location. – sharptooth Nov 19 '10 at 13:31
  • Thanks for the responses all. I'd likely be moving it 4-5ft upwards, out the way of where my chair swings back. But yes, I'll look at getting a pro in (and hang over his shoulder to learn a bit about what he's doing!) – Spedge Nov 19 '10 at 16:52
  • You would never do anything like this without first calling your electric company. No matter where you live. Just because someone somewhere (unspecified) got away with it doesn't mean you should DIY it. Safety is no joke when you're talking about connections to the actual mains. – SDsolar Sep 24 '17 at 8:32
7

I'll give the same answer I give to most electrical questions like this, call a professional.

Unless you have the knowledge and ability to handle any and all possible complications, this is a job well suited for a trained licensed professional.

EDIT:

As Mike B points out, there are also permit and other legal issues involved here.

  • 1
    I completely agree! Aside from the possible involvement of permits and licenses, electrical main breaker work can be potentially dangerous. – Mike B Nov 19 '10 at 16:19
  • So what about cost? Would you imagine this to be an expensive task? – Spedge Nov 19 '10 at 16:53
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    @Spedge Costs are always a tricky topic because there's so many different factors involved (parts, permits, labor rates, etc). I'd suggest calling around and getting ballpark figures -- good electricians should at least be able to tell you a minimum. Also, beware of people that charge LOW LOW rates. Make sure they're fully licensed and bonded. – Mike B Nov 19 '10 at 17:16
  • @Spedge: Depends on your location, permits, and the amount of work involved. It's hard to say. The best bet is to call around and get some estimates. – Tester101 Nov 19 '10 at 17:21
  • Also there are code issues with things like maximum height of the breakers. – Ed Beal Sep 24 '17 at 23:29
7

Don't even think about doing this kind of job yourself. This is definitely a job for pros only. In most areas, the ONLY one authorized to break a meter seal is the power company itself. To change a meter location requires the power service to be turned completely off by them as well. Once the meter housing and main panel are installed in the new location, it usually requires a write off inspection from licensed Master Electrician or the local building inspector. The power company will not reconnect without one of these sign-offs.

  • Ah, ok, good point. In the middle of moving (or really, starting with) a provider so I'll hang back until that's all squared away before doing the work. Good thoughts though, upvoted. – Spedge Nov 21 '10 at 21:52
0

The only two cases where some professional intervention is required are

  • if you decide to access the meter terminal block and the block is sealed - breaking the seal can cause legal trouble later
  • if any changes to the wiring need approval in your jurisdiction or if you rent the apartment and don't know how the landlord feels about rewirings.

Having said that, the job is quite easy - you need to just lengthen the wires paying attention to the following:

  • all connections must be super tight - every loose wire connection can overheat under load and can cause a fire
  • you can't connect copper and aluminiul wires directly - use terminal blocks for that
  • pay extra attention to not confuse wires and to not connect them improperly - in some cases you won't notice confusing non-phase wires until an electric shock hazard situation occurs
  • new wires should have right cross-section - it should be at the least the same as of existing wires you lengthen.
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    Moving meters is definitely a job for the electric company, if for no other reason that you need to turn the power off to the meter to be able to work on it safely. – ChrisF Nov 19 '10 at 13:03
  • @ChrisF: Yes, that's reasonable. I didn't think of this since I never encountered wirings without a switch between the grid and the meter. – sharptooth Nov 19 '10 at 13:05
  • "all connections must be super tight" if you overtorque, you can damage the screw and possibly the wire. A torque screwdriver is useful. – Jay Bazuzi Jun 23 '11 at 4:35
  • @Jay Bazuzi: Maybe, but screws in such devices are usually rather huge and overtorquing them is not that easy. – sharptooth Jun 23 '11 at 7:42
  • ChrisF is correct. You need a Temporary Disconnect. And if a seal needs to be broken it needs to be them who does it. – SDsolar Sep 24 '17 at 8:30
-1

You are correct. This is a no-brainer - esp. here in California. You would never do this kind of work without coordination with the electric company.

If you call them and explain that you have a situation that can cause an accident that affected the meter or any other safety issue involving their equipment I'd be willing to bet they will be there within a single day to see what is happening.

More importantly, you don't own all that equipment - especially the meter.

Best advice is to get the professionals involved at the earliest opportunity.

All work of this type must be performed by a licensed electrician, here. Other places may differ on that last point. I remember that in Alaska I could do my own electrical work without the license.

Where I live (PG&E territory) the company would need to do a temporary disconnect for this kind of work.
It is a formal process, as described here:

Electric Service Temporary Disconnect (PDF)

  • 1
    In most areas the utility owns to the taps at the top of the riser. I don't know of one that owns "all the way to the main breaker". – Speedy Petey Mar 29 '17 at 10:34
  • You do not have the right to change anything that affects metering of electricity to your property. Period. But even more to the point, as per the OP, the electric company will be extremely responsive to a potentially dangerous setup. They might even show up same-day to manage the situation once they are informed. – SDsolar Sep 24 '17 at 8:21
  • in some areas the utility owns the meter pan and riser. In many/most areas they own only the drop from the pole, EVERYTHING on the house including the meter pan, with the exception of the glass meter itself, is customer owned and maintained. – Speedy Petey Sep 24 '17 at 11:44
  • Here in PG&E territory, you must talk to them if you want to do anything with the breaker wiring. It is sealed. The meter side of the box has two seals. One for the meter itself, at the top and the other for the lower 2 feet of box that opens from the bottom. The right side has all the breaker levers. ->But I can't disassemble any of it without breaking the seal on the left side. The whole thing comes apart as one unit to get to the wiring underneath. Sure I own the breakers but can't replace any of them without calling PG&E to open the box and pull the meter. – SDsolar Sep 24 '17 at 19:55
  • The property here has several subpanels, and of course we have total access to them. But without a license we're limited to replacing breakers and switches & outlets and things like that. We can't install new circuits ourselves, legally, like I did in Alaska for radio stations. – SDsolar Sep 24 '17 at 19:57

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