wiring a breaker box to a meter


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Old 02-17-10, 03:19 PM
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wiring a breaker box to a meter

Hi all,

First, this forum looks like a place I'm gonna be visiting quite a bit in the next few months. It has a lot of info!

Here's my question, and I hope I explain enough to get a correct answer.

I'm currently in the process of renovating a garage into a "cottage". I may build an addition in the future, so one of the first things I did was get a 200 amp breaker box. It's been installed, all of the wires have been ran, etc. Now for the hard part.

I've called the electric company to get their ideas on the best way to move the service from a pole to the house. He was very helpful with the information, even gave me an "equipment list" to get before I hired an electrician to finish the job. He said something about 4 triplex wiring to connect the meter to the box, but I've looked on the internet, and have no idea what kind of wiring that is. I know how much I need, how it's supposed to be "hooked" up, but don't exactly know what it is. Can someone explain it to me so I can get the correct wire?

Thanks in advance for your help!!
 
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Old 02-17-10, 03:32 PM
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You can just go to a supply house and ask for some #4 triplex overhead service conductors.

It will be aluminum with 2 insulated conductors and a steel bare "messenger" cable. The "messenger" will be the neutral.

I believe it's "code name" is periwinkle or conch. As far as what it looks like, if you have any neighbors or houses that have overhead services, this will be strung from the pole to the house to a weatherhead and then SE cable from there to the meter base.

Also, don't forget your wedge clamps.
 

Last edited by wirenut1110; 02-17-10 at 03:38 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 02-17-10, 04:32 PM
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First off the wire size he probably suggested was 4/0 not 4. The way this should be done is a meter can installed at the new breaker box and the power company run a new drop and pull the one at the pole.

By "4" maybe he meant quadplex and running the box at the cottage as a subpanel from the pole. In that case you might not need 4/0. Size would depend on capacity of the service panel on the pole and breaker used.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 05:14 PM
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He shouldn't need 4/0 messenger cable, the ampacities are quite larger for cable suspended in free air.

I think 4/0 messenger is up there close to 300 amps.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 05:39 PM
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Thanks!

Thanks so much for giving me such a quick response! I appreciate it!
 
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Old 02-17-10, 05:47 PM
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Wow

I didn't know there would be so many replies....
After a little more digging, with wirenut's suggestion, I was able to figure out exactly what I need.
The actual name for it is 4/0 aluminun service entrance cable.
It's sold by the foot, and it will go from my meter box, over the rafters, (yes, this was ok'd) to the breaker box.

Now here's the next question. Since this is a cottage now (a little less than 500 ft), there will definitely be the possibility of an addition. Have the breaker box for it, that's for sure. It will cost me app. 15 ft more for the cable to "hug" the wall so to speak than for it to go directly from one to the other. If I were to say build a second story would it be better for it to be on the side than almost in the middle, or would that make a difference? Just planning for the future.

Thanks,

Joan
 
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Old 02-17-10, 06:16 PM
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Yes Ray is right, I thought you were saying you had to do the overhead service from the pole to the meter and now you're talking about running it through the rafters.

I wouldn't be talking to the power company about this, you need to discuss this with your AHJ.

You can't run triplex through your cottage. If it was ok'd from your AHJ, they need to be fired.

What is your location? As stated, you really need to install a disconnect outside and run SER cable from there to your panel. Very few localities allow more than 5-6' of unfused service inside a house.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 07:03 PM
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Just a clarification. I thought 4/0 was too large but really didn't think #4 would be ok. Just trying to make sense of the "4" in the first post.

I'll ask again why aren't you putting a meter can next to the breaker panel and having the power company do a drop to it. If the drop is long the y may require you to place one or poles on your property but the triplex is usually provided by them at no cost.

I'm wondering if you can't just run the cottage as a sub panel off the pole service panel. What size is the service panel on the pole.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 08:04 PM
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#4 Al triplex is probably what the power company will run from the pole to the weatherhead of the service. 4/0 Al service cable (Type SE Style U) will connect the meter socket to the panel as well as run up the wall from the socket to the weatherhead. You'll also need a 1/2" x 8' ground rod connected to the socket ground terminal with #6 copper ground wire and a #4 copper ground wire from the panel neutral bar to the water service line where it enters the building. Also, don't forget the Contax grease (oxidation inhibiting compound) for the aluminum connections in the socket and panel.
 
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Old 02-18-10, 09:04 AM
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The wire or cable coming into the house from the meter needs to be "as short as practical" in order to satisfy the electrical code. Otherwise a disconnect needs to be set and a 4 wire cable run from the disconnect into the panel.
 
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Old 02-18-10, 05:29 PM
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Thanks again!

All of your post were right to some extent.

I contacted a couple of electricians today to get some much needed advice.

My reasoning for not putting the meterbox combo on outside of the breakerbox is there are two windows right next to it, and I won't have the 3 1/2 feet required from the combo box to the windows.

The combo box was first used as a mobile home setup. The electric company will charge me extra if the combo box is moved farther away from the power pole than it is right now.

I am a bit confused as to the differences of opinion the electricans gave me. One said it was fine, we could move the combo box, use 4/0 aluminum wire, hook it up. The other one said we couldn't use the existing combo box because it only has a "2 wire disconnect", and the codes have changed to 4 wire.

I know I have a 200 amp breaker box, but know there's no way I'll be pulling that much in such a small space. I was just going to use the 4/0 3 wire service cable. Should I contact my inspector about this? By the way, I live in South Carolina, in Laurens county. I'm dealing with a co-op for an electric company if that helps.
 
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Old 02-18-10, 06:34 PM
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Are you asking about using a 3 or 4 wire feeder into the house panel?
 
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Old 02-18-10, 06:43 PM
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You don't need a combo on the house. Just a meter socket. Main breaker should be in the panel. Why can't the power company make a drop to the cottage?

Does the panel at the cottage face the pole?

Not a Pro but if it were me and you have just a disconnect switch, no breaker box at the pole. I would add one for a 100a breaker then run #1-4 conductor URD (Al. mobile home cable) underground to the breaker box at the cottage. Of course if it really is a breaker box then just put a 100a breaker. Yes you could maybe go to 200a but cost escalates and I doubt you need it. Of course if you go through an existing disconnect switch you can not exceed the disconnect switch rating. You could by pass it and run new wires straight from the meter socket.
The other one said we couldn't use the existing combo box because it only has a "2 wire disconnect"
I'm not sure what he meant. I'm taking it to mean a disconnect switch rathen a OCPD (breaker or fuse) but a 2wire disconnect is all you use on a single phase circuit. The pros will have to decipher that.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-18-10 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 02-20-10, 01:21 PM
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Code Definition , "Service Entrance Conductors" --- "The Service Conductors between the terminals of the Service equiptment ( the "Main" breaker ) and the point where joined to the Service drop ( the utility cable, pole-to-house)"

You need a "Wiring Method" for installing the Service Conductors.

From the Code "Wiring Method section --- "Service Entrance Cable; primarily used for services and of these types;
Type SE-- Service Entrance Cable having a flame-retardant moisture-resistance covering"
 
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Old 02-27-10, 07:41 PM
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Can you guys decipher this?

I've been trying to get my local inspector out to look at the panel box. I'm enclosing the reply he sent me from an email. I have no idea what he's talking about, and now am more confused than ever.
As always, thanks so much!!

My email to the inspector:
Hi Mr. Brown,

Hope you’re having a good year so far!

This is Joan, the lady trying to finish this cottage at Babb Circle. I’m getting some conflicting stuff from a couple of certified electricians, concerning the meter combo box and the wire I want to use.
I have a 200 amp breaker box, and want to move the existing meter combo box to the back of the house. I had Greg Young, an engineer with Electric come out, and he told me what I needed, where it would be best to put the box (in back of the house, between the windows), and to use 4/0 wire. Said I could use my existing meter box combo.
Now I’m getting 2 different ways to do this, and want to know which is the right way…..

One electrician says no problem, get the elec.co. to come out, disconnect the power, and we can run the wire, set it up Another one says the “disconnect switch” at the meter box can’t be used because it’s only a 2 wire disconnect. Also says I have to use “4 wire” 4/0 instead of the 3 wire.

It’s gonna be 2 weeks before I get this done, so if you’re in the area, could you take a look at it for me? Or maybe you can just tell me the best way to go. I can meet you out there, but it’ll have to be after 2:30. It’s open, so you could go right in if you have to look at the breaker box.

My inspectors reply:

Let me Come by and see the panel box ,both electricians or right in what they are saying 'if the panel is over 25 ' then you need 4wires back to back or less 3wire 4/0 on 200 amp service also if it is a combo it need 4wire . my time is from 9:00 am to 2:30 back in office at 3:00pm

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 
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Old 02-27-10, 07:56 PM
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I will try to decipher this in the AM.
 
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Old 02-27-10, 08:10 PM
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First of all, a combo has a 200 amp disconnect built in to the socket. I think he is saying that if you have to travel over 25' to the panel you must use the disconnect in the combo and then run the 4 wire SER cable to the panel. If you are under 25', you can run the 3 wire SEU cable to the panel, but without the combo disconnect, just a meter socket. Also, if the meter socket is a combo, you have to run the 4 wire SER cable regardless of length. When ever you use a fusible or circuit breaker disconnecting means at the meter, you must always then run 4 wire SER to the panel. The ideal installation is just a meter socket on the outside and then 3 wire SEU cable to the main breaker panel inside.
 
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Old 02-27-10, 08:30 PM
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Can you take pictures of what is on the pole. So far we are not really getting a good description of what is on the pole. The answer depends on what is on the pole. Does it look anything like one of the below pictures?

 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-27-10 at 09:29 PM.
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Old 02-28-10, 05:51 PM
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You folks are awesome!!

I have a "combo box" that looks like picture # 4.

What I think I'm gonna do is go to my cottage, take some pics of everything, insert them or add a link to them, then post on here....

It's bad when the folks I trust more than the inspectors or licensed electricians in my area are folks on a forum. But so far, you folks seem to be giving me the best answers.

A little background, if it helps, and just to let you folks know what I'm doing.

My fiancee' and I bought this property with a 2 car garage on it. We were going to add an addition, do all of the work ourselves (or most of it) and have a pretty decent place, debt-free.
Unfortunately, my fiancee' passed in July this past year. Now I'm left to finish it.

Thanks again for all of your help.
 
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Old 02-28-10, 07:14 PM
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I have a "combo box" that looks like picture # 4.
That is not a combo box. You have a meter socket and a breaker or fuse box. Is there a main breaker in the box below the meter. If so what size is it. What else is in the box? Do you see a manufacturers name and model number any where on the breaker box? A picture would still be useful.

Just to be clear you are saying you have a meter socket and directly below it connected by a short piece of conduit (pipe) is a service panel.
 
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Old 03-02-10, 07:02 PM
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sending pictures

I'm sending a link to pictures. If you click on the arrows, they will open a box that will tell you what they are....

Here's the link......

presenting: UNTITLED COLLAGE :::::: VUVOX

Again, any help is greatly appreciated, and thanks so much!!
 
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Old 03-02-10, 07:43 PM
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Just scanned the pics. Just to recap, the power company will determine where they will allow you to set the meter. If your panel is not almost back to back with the meter socket you will need to set a disconnect nearest the point of the cable entry.
 
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Old 03-02-10, 08:37 PM
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Is the breaker box on an interior wall in the cottage? Almost looks like that. If it is on an outside wall which one in relation to the meter. See diagram below.

 
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Old 03-02-10, 11:03 PM
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I am kinda catching up on this one however I have a question or two along the way here due Ray did put a good drawing of map to pin point the location but let me add this part before you start bury the cable or conduit there are couple items it need to be addressed here.,,

Where is the septic tank will be located ?

Where is the water line will be located ?

two basic question will address the issue before you will have to buried the cable or conduit and many POCO are pretty picky with thier layout for lateral service run.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 03-03-10, 07:35 AM
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Your best bet for this project would be to first find out where the PoCo wants the meter to be set. This will determine your run to the panel. If it turns out that the run will be less than 3-5 feet inside the cottage then your fine running 4/0 3wire SE cable. If it is more than 3-5ft then you need to set a meter pan that has a 200amp breaker installed in the meter pan. this is your first disconnecting means and means all your grounding is run here. the #6 from the ground rods and the #4 from the water pipe (if there is one). Then 200amp 4/0 4 wire SE style U cable would be run from the meter/breaker to the panel and the panel would be wired as a sub panel. It can still have a main breaker in it, but the neutrals and grounds need to be seperate. Another option is to pipe the feeder from the meter pan underground to the panel inside thus eliminating the need for the disconnecting means outside.
 
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Old 03-03-10, 07:40 AM
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Again, following rays pics, we need some clarification on the orientation of things. Also are you planning on making this an underground service from the pole to the cottage? Seems the easiest and best option becuase your headroom isnt that great on the outside of the building. The engineer suggested that wall becuase it goes up to the peak of the roof and makes the service attachment point higher. I would go underground from the pole to the meter, and from the meter to the panel. 2" PVC right up the building and LB into the back of the panel. No need for a disconnect outside at all
 
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Old 03-03-10, 10:54 AM
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Questions

Ok, to answer a few questions.....
Picture # 6 in the collage (the one with 2 windows) is the outside wall opposite the breaker box. The box is in the corner, next to the window.
As far as running service cable, the engineer said I could put the meter box on the back wall, (picture #8) run the cable over the rafters, then into the breaker box. That will be more than 25 ft, or very close.

Using the diagram, if c was the front of the cottage, D would be the side where the breaker box is. It would also be picture # 6, where I was originally going to put the meter, 3 feet from the window. That would mean it would be only 8 feet from the breaker box, but would have to cut a hole in the roof. And then there's the issue of running it over the rafters, which I don't think would be a problem since the engineer said I could from the back.

I just want to do this the easiest way possible, but I also want to do it by code.

You guys are seriously great, and I appreciate everything you're doing!
 
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Old 03-03-10, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by alljams2001 View Post
Ok, to answer a few questions.....
Picture # 6 in the collage (the one with 2 windows) is the outside wall opposite the breaker box. The box is in the corner, next to the window.
As far as running service cable, the engineer said I could put the meter box on the back wall, (picture #8) run the cable over the rafters, then into the breaker box. That will be more than 25 ft, or very close.
With that much cable inside you would need to set a disconnect either outside or immediately inside the cottage in order to satisfy the NEC. Although no specific length is mentioned 5-6' is commonly allowed without a disconnect.

With the disconnect set you would install a 4 wire feeder from the disconnect to the panel inside. All neutrals would be isolated from the grounds in the inside panel.

Note to OP, the wiring after the meter is under the perview of the NEC, not the power company designers.
 
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Old 03-03-10, 03:18 PM
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I just want to do this the easiest way possible, but I also want to do it by code.
Easiest way is to figure out where the best place is for the meter box. I'd put it there then put the breaker box there just below it on the outside or inside. I didn't see many cables going into the breaker box in the house and those could be easily moved or a large box installed for splicing. The drop to the pole would be removed by the power company and the pole removed. Trying to use it at all is an un-needed complication.
but would have to cut a hole in the roof
Tha's easy and not a problem.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 03-03-10 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 03-03-10, 04:33 PM
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The first place I wanted to put it, 3 feet away from the two windows, seems to be the easiest, less complicated way to do it (picture #6). It'd be less than 10 feet, and according to what I interperted from the inspector, less than 25 ft, no disconnect.

Think that may be the way to go.
 
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Old 03-03-10, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by alljams2001 View Post
The first place I wanted to put it, 3 feet away from the two windows, seems to be the easiest, less complicated way to do it (picture #6). It'd be less than 10 feet, and according to what I interperted from the inspector, less than 25 ft, no disconnect.

Think that may be the way to go.
That inspector is definatly mistaken and should be fired. There is no way you can run 25' of unfused power into a house and have it be legal.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 10:41 AM
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Post number #15 in this thread is what the inspector wrote to me, maybe I'm interpeting it wrong.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 11:09 AM
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Quote from post #15

Originally Posted by alljams2001 View Post
My email to the inspector:
Hi Mr. Brown,

Hope you’re having a good year so far!

This is Joan, the lady trying to finish this cottage at Babb Circle. I’m getting some conflicting stuff from a couple of certified electricians, concerning the meter combo box and the wire I want to use.
I have a 200 amp breaker box, and want to move the existing meter combo box to the back of the house. I had Greg Young, an engineer with Electric come out, and he told me what I needed, where it would be best to put the box (in back of the house, between the windows), and to use 4/0 wire. Said I could use my existing meter box combo.
Now I’m getting 2 different ways to do this, and want to know which is the right way…..

One electrician says no problem, get the elec.co. to come out, disconnect the power, and we can run the wire, set it up Another one says the “disconnect switch” at the meter box can’t be used because it’s only a 2 wire disconnect. Also says I have to use “4 wire” 4/0 instead of the 3 wire.

It’s gonna be 2 weeks before I get this done, so if you’re in the area, could you take a look at it for me? Or maybe you can just tell me the best way to go. I can meet you out there, but it’ll have to be after 2:30. It’s open, so you could go right in if you have to look at the breaker box.

My inspectors reply:

Let me Come by and see the panel box ,both electricians or right in what they are saying 'if the panel is over 25 ' then you need 4wires back to back or less 3wire 4/0 on 200 amp service also if it is a combo it need 4wire . my time is from 9:00 am to 2:30 back in office at 3:00pm

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
I am going to punctuate this the way I interpret this and using the code requirements as a guideline.

Let me Come by and see the panel box. Both electricians are right in what they are saying, If the panel is over 25' inside then you need 4wires and a disconnect or meter combo. Back to back or less 3wire 4/0 on 200 amp service. Also if it is a combo it need 4wire.

I too find it hard that someone would allow 25 foot of unfused cable inside a dwelling. I would certainly reject this if i were an inspector as not meeting the "as short as practical" aspect. As an installer there is no way I would do this either.

Was this a municiple inspector or from the power company?
 

Last edited by pcboss; 03-04-10 at 11:14 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-04-10, 11:23 AM
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If you will forgive me being a Dutch Uncle for a minute I think you should just hire an electrician and get it done. You simply don't have the knowledge to understand everything being said and the back and forth of this thread may be causing you even more confusion. I doubt very much will be accomplished for you by this thread. Get an electrician to do it. It is, for you, the best course of action.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 12:28 PM
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Thank you, pcboss. This was not only a municipal inspector, but the engineer with the electric company, (a co-op) came by as well and suggested the installation of the box in back. That's where the "25 feet" came into play.

As far as me getting an electrician, Ray 2047, I not only got one, but 2 quotes. I have no intention of doing the work myself. But having 2 separate quotes, with 2 separate ways of doing the job leaves me with questions. Obviously my inspector wasn't much help. That's why I came here. To help me look at all options, look at the NEC code, and make sure my little cottage doesn't burn down, or have unneeded expenses because something was done wrong.

Please don't think just because I ask questions, doesn't mean I don't have the answers already. Only verification they are right.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 01:35 PM
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Heres a quick rundown for you. Honestly far as i can tell you Should be able to do a good majority of this work yourself. You could mount the meter/disco box, you could run the 4/0 4wire SER cable in the cottage, and let an electrcian make all the connections. You could even buy most of the material yourself. Myself or one of the other pros could easily make a good material list for you.

for starters heres your meter/disco enclosure.

Meter Breaker, 200 Amp # MBT48B200BTS by Cutler-Hammer
 
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Old 03-04-10, 02:59 PM
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Thank you so much for the offer, ElectricJoeNJ !!

I'll do anything to make this easier; I can even make a video of the project to let you actually see what you're dealing with.

All I'm looking for is answers, and thanks to you folks, I may just get some!!

Let me know, I'll get right on it!!

Thanks again!!
 
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Old 03-04-10, 03:02 PM
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ElectricJoeNJ has a good plan. If you can do with out electricity on the property for a few days you could save some money by having the power company disconnect the drop to the pole then stripping the box and meter socket off the pole and putting them on the house.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by alljams2001 View Post
Thank you so much for the offer, ElectricJoeNJ !!

I'll do anything to make this easier; I can even make a video of the project to let you actually see what you're dealing with.

All I'm looking for is answers, and thanks to you folks, I may just get some!!

Let me know, I'll get right on it!!

Thanks again!!
No Problem, thats what we are here for. Yeah a little video would be nice. Ill definatly do what i can to help you out with this.
 
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Old 03-04-10, 05:06 PM
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That's perfect!!

I'll get right on it Saturday, and have video posted on here by Sat. night....

That was a great idea about using the existing weatherhead...I can figure out what I need, call the co-op, and get the power cut off.

Thanks again.....
 
 

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