Meter to Main Panel Distance?


Old 05-11-07, 11:09 AM
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Meter to Main Panel Distance?


Anyone know of any landmines in the code relating to the distance from the meter to the main panel, and how far the feed can run indoors?

Currently, my meter (on the side of the house) feeds via conduit the main panel mounted on the front of the house, inside a porch. The porch is being removed, so the area where the panel is will no longer be weatherproof, so I will be relocating the panel to the other side of the wall, inside the house. I don't want the steel conduit to wrap around the front of the house (as it does currently). For aesthetic reasons, I'd rather drill a hole through the side of the house, nearer to the meter. This results in a shorter run than if it wrapped around the front, but the conduit would run about 2-3 feet through a wall (not load bearing) and pass through 2 studs before reaching the panel. Is this allowed? Or will I have to run the conduit around the front of the house?

Yes, I have a building permit and the electrical work will be inspected, but I don't want to wind up with holes in the brick and then have the inspector tell me I can't do that. I can't move the panel though, because then I'd have to junction and extend every single circuit feed.

Any thoughts will be helpful!
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Old 05-11-07, 12:25 PM
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I've read that the maximum distance between the meter and main panel is 5' - or defined as "mounting the panel as close to the meter as possible." Someone else may be able to provide a NEC reference, but the one you really need to ask is the electrical inspector. His interpretation may be more strict or lax than someone else's, especially considering it's just a remodel.

Practically speaking, I'd minimize the distance within the wall, and certainly use RMC. I wouldn't want someone to get the bright idea to install a chair rail and accidentally find the wires with a nail.
Old 05-11-07, 02:36 PM
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The "service disconnect" must be as close to the point where the service wires enter the building as is practicable. That usually means that the service panel (the one with the main disconnect) is directly opposite the meter on the other side of the wall.

What you could do is to install a single (2-pole, 240 volt) circuit breaker and enclosure right next to the meter (outside and then run feeder conductors to the existing panel. Once you go through a main circuit breaker you may run virtually any distance to the panel.

If you do it this way the new single circuit breaker becomes the service disconnect and the original panel becomes a sub panel and it will need to have the equipment grounds and neutrals separated and isolated. The neutral at the new service disconnect will need to be properly grounded and the neutral in the existing panel isolated from ground.

There is a "loophole" that allows service conductors to be run inside a building but it requires that the conduit be encased in no less than 4 inches of concrete. The local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ, i.e. the electrical inspector) may close this loophole.
Old 08-23-07, 11:15 AM
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For what it's worth, my local electrical inspector was completely comfortable with the setup. Basically there winds up being about 12-18 inches of rigid steel conduit through the inside wall (passing through two closely spaced studs) before it enters the main panel. Now, he might not have allowed that setup if it was all new construction, but for a retrofit he had no objections.
Old 08-23-07, 12:51 PM
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I'd say most inspectors are comfortable with 5' or less, but this is something you should really ask about first. You may be able to convince him by suggesting that you use threaded metal conduit (instead of sch 80 PVC) for extra protection. The issue is that the service conductors are unfused, so an errant nail through the drywall inside could pierce an unfused conductor. It would be very difficult to accidentally punch through rigid metal conduit with anything less than an air hammer.

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