Today, it is unlikely for a homeowner to tweak on electrical components such as an electric meter box. Not only is it owned by the power company (and not the homeowner), but only an accredited service provider (ASP) should install and alter any components in your electrical system.
On the other hand, it can still be useful to understand how an electric meter box works and how to wire it to your system. That said, here are the steps in wiring your electrical meter box, as well as some information on how it works.
Anatomy of an Electric Meter
An electric meter box is the backbone of electrical wiring systems for every household. It is the connection point where electrical power enters your home from the public network.
Inside a typical electric meter box, there is a centre neutral bus bar and two hot (live) bus bars. You can also find a connection lug bonded to the centre neutral bus bar — which electricians use for the grounding wire.
Note that you won’t see the connection lugs unless an electrician removes the meter mechanism from the box.
Furthermore, the actual wire connections are easier to understand than the components inside an electric meter box. From the weather head or underground main power line, three large-gauge wires (two hot/live wires and one neutral) enter the meter box. These wires connect to the live and neutral bus bars inside your meter box.
The large-gauge feeder wires which connect from the mainline to your meter are known as line wires. Additionally, load wires are cables that run from the remaining terminals in your electric meter box bus bars to your indoor circuit breaker panel.
Lastly, the grounding lug in your meter box connects to the neutral wire running to the grounding rod — which routes stray electricity from faulty appliances to the ground.
In a nutshell, wiring your electrical meter box involves seven wire connections:
- Three (3) line connections
- Three (3) load connections
- One (1) grounding connection
How to Wire Your Electric Meter Box
Now that you have an idea about the connections required, here’s what you’ll need to perform the wiring safely and adequately. Note that you still need to contact your utility provider or an accredited level 2 electrician to perform these steps.
- Wire strippers
- Safety gloves
1. Connect the Line Hot Wires
When your utility provider or ASP connects the meter, they’d have to bring down the service wires from an overhead mast or an underground feed.
After opening the meter box and shutting off the service wires, electricians will then strip the two hot wires and attach them into their corresponding terminals on the hot bus bars.
Next, electricians will tighten down the screws, ensuring the connections are tightly snug. They may need to tug on the wires to make sure they won’t move from small movements and pulling.
Depending on your equipment and materials, the hot feed wires can be two black wires, while other systems indicate them as a black and a red wire.
2. Connect the Load Hot Wires
After connecting the line hot wires, electricians will then attach the load side of the electric meter. Keep in mind that the load side carries electric power to the main service panel and can be wired directly to the switchboard or an interim disconnect.
To do this, your electrician will strip the ends of both hot load wires and connect them to the two load terminals located on the meter’s hot bus bars. Once again, they will need to tighten the screws and tug on the wires to ensure a tight connection.
3. Connect the Ground Wire
Together with the hot and neutral wires, your system includes a separate grounding wire that connects the meter box to a dedicated grounding rod buried in the earth (hence the name).
Moreover, the ground wire connects to the ground terminal at the centre of the meter, bound to the neutral bus bar. Then, the other end of the cable attaches to your grounding rod using a fitting known as a grounding lug.
To protect the ground wire from foot traffic, lawnmowers, and tripping, your electrician may run the cable through a metal conduit to the buried rod.
To protect your ground wire from physical damage, the technician may run the grounding wire through a hollow metal conduit to the grounding rod buried in the earth. Without this protection, you can damage your ground wire with a lawnmower or weed trimmer.
4. Connect the Neutral Wires
After attaching the hot and ground wires, all that’s left to do is to connect the neutral line wires and load wires. Typically, these cables have a white mark or tape to identify them from the hot wires.
Similar to the above procedures, your electrician will strip and attach the neutral wires to the top and bottom neutral terminals on your meter box’s neutral bus bar. Tightening the screws and tugging on the cables should always follow to ensure a tight fit.
After connecting all line, load, and grounding wires, your electrician will now attach the meter mechanism, closes and locks the meter, and turns on the power to the service wires. Finally, he needs to ensure that the meter runs correctly.
Understanding the components and steps in wiring your electric meter box is essential as a homeowner and a consumer. That way, you can quickly figure out if and when you need a level 2 electrician to tend to your power system.
That said, Hills District Electrician is the only team you’ll need for your electrical services.
Our level 2 electricians will install and rewire electric meter boxes and perform emergency electrical repairs with the best quality and craftsmanship.
With 15 years of service in Sydney’s hilly suburbs, we treat you and your property with the utmost care and respect. We are a team of licensed and insured electricians available 24/7 to accommodate you on your most convenient time.