Distance from meter to panel


Old 11-29-04, 11:07 AM
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Distance from meter to panel

I would like to have my electric meter moved from the back of the house to the side for a future room extension. Do I need to move the panel in the basement as well? The run from the meter to the panel would be about 20 feet. Is there a limit to how far the panel can be from the meter?
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Old 11-29-04, 01:37 PM
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you probly can keep the panel where it is now. you will have to have more se cable( service entrance). there is no hard rule by the nec on twenty feet from panel to meter. i am not sire right now but i believe anything over a hundred feet in distance needs its own seperate disconnect. alcheck with the local on this code
Old 11-29-04, 01:41 PM
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The conductors between the meter and your main disconnect are not fused, and thus present a hazard should they short out. The NEC requires that the length of these conductors _inside_ a structure be 'short', but doesn't really specify how long they may be, and the NEC doesn't really limit the length of these conductors on the _outside_ of a structure. Local codes tend to be stricter than the NEC on this topic, so you will need to check with your local inspector about how long these cables can be and if you will need to move your main panel.

However there is a way out if you _must_ 'move' your main panel. When you move the meter, you can have a combination meter and main disconnect installed. This then becomes your main panel. There would be one single 'two pole' circuit breaker in this main panel; it would feed a cable that goes to the panel in your basement. The panel in your basement would then become a 'subpanel', and could remain exactly where it is, no matter what the length of cable required. The grounding bus would need to be re-configured at the panel in your basement, to make it a proper sub-panel, and new grounding electrodes would need to be installed at the new main panel. When you have an electrician move your service entrance, then getting your panel re-configured should be pretty easy. This will be considerably less expensive that actually moving the panel in your basement, since that would require splicing and moving all of the circuits in your house.

Old 11-29-04, 01:48 PM
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The NEC has specific requirements. Or maybe not so specific. I have experience with this from re-wiring my service entrance.

The NEC says that the main disconnecting means (usually your main breaker on your electrical panel but not necessarily) needs to be "as close as practicable" from the point of entrance of your SE cable into the house. My local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction - the Code guy) told me that meant 5 - 7 feet. I have had other Code enforcement guys in this forum say in his area it is interpreted as 5-feet maximum - period.

My panel was about 25-feet from the point of cable entry into my basement. I either had to extend all 19 of my branch circuits to the 5 - 7 foot distance and relocate the panel there, or buy a disconnect switch to become my main disconnect, then run SER cable to the existing panel location. I chose the latter. Once you do that, though, your panel becomes a "sub-panel", and all your neutrals and grounds must be separate in it.

Meter location usually needs to be approved by your local utility, first of all. I had a "planner" from the utility come out to the house and tell me where my meter could and couldn't be located.

Call your Code enforcement office and your utility and find out what they say before you proceed.

Let us know what you think, more questions, or how it worked out.

Old 11-29-04, 03:03 PM
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If you don't want the disconnect on the outside , you could install a new main panel inside near the meter and run the current panel as a sub panel from that.

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