How to Install Meter Base Wiring

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Wiring a meter base is the responsibility of a homeowner. Some utility companies may supply the meter base and some will not. In most cases, only the service drop and meter are installed by the utility company. The meter socket, wiring and all the fittings are the responsibility of the owner as well. All mounting for the base should be in place before wiring. There are two kinds of wires that may be used by the utility company: aluminum wires or copper wires. If aluminum wires are used, an anti-corrosion compound must be used to protect the wires from corrosion.

Things You'll Need

  • Allen key
  • Wire cutter
  • Anti-corrosion compound for aluminum drop
  • Insulated screwdriver
  • Identify the "line" side and the "load" side of the meter base. The line side is where the service drop from the utility company is attached. There should be three wires: two hot wires and one neutral wire. The hot wires will be identified with black electrical tape wrapped around them. The neutral wire will be identified with white electrical tape wrapped around it.

  • Use the Allen key provided with the meter socket to unscrew the hot screw socket terminal. Cut about 3/4 inch off one of the hot wire's outer sheath, then remove the insulation. Apply the anti-corrosion compound to the wire. Insert the wire into the socket then tighten the screw on top of it to secure it. Do not over-tighten the screw; this will damage it. The hot wires are installed on both sides of the meter base, not in the middle. Repeat the steps with the second hot wire.

  • Install the neutral wire in the middle of the socket or to the neutral bar marked on the meter base. The neutral bar is identified by a white marking or white electrical tape on the outer sheath. Cut about 3/4 inch of the insulation off and remove it to uncover the copper wires. Insert the wire into the appropriate socket, then tighten the screw with the Allen key provided.

  • Identify the load side on the meter base. This is where the wires going to the service panel are installed. There are three sockets. Connect the two hot wires on both sides of the terminal. Connect the white wire to the middle. Tighten all terminal screws. All wires should be at least No. 4/0 electric copper wire, or No. 2/0 copper wires for 200-amp service.

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References

  • "Creative Homeowner Ultimate Guide: Wiring"; John Caloggero, Rex Cauldwell and Steve Wilson; 2010
  • "Black and Decker: The Complete Guide to Home Wiring"; Andrew Karre; 2001
  • "Wiring: Step-by-Step Projects"; Fran J. Donegan; 2004
  • Photo Credit meter terminal image by Chris Galbraith from Fotolia.com
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