Installing a meter takes some planning. You need to secure a fitting location, preferably an area on the wall close to the heavy loads in your home. You should also consult the energy provider about the cost. The experts at Builder Online have noticed that utility companies typically run the cable from the street to the meter for free.
However, some of them will only cover the cost of running the cable across a specific distance. Therefore, you can save money by installing the meter outside. But is that your only option? Can you install electric meters inside? This is what you should know:
1). Who Owns The Electric Meter?
This question matters because the owner of the meter will decide where to put it. In this case, the energy company owns the meter. In fact, they may install it for free for that very reason. It is their property, and you can’t tamper with it without their permission.
Admittedly, the rules tend to vary from location to location. The authorities in your region may assign you full control over the meter, which allows you to install it wherever you see fit. That being said, you should assume that your energy provider has the final say until you have a reason to believe otherwise.
2). Do Energy Companies Prefer Electric Meters Inside Or Outside?
The average utility provider will tell you to install their meter outside. Consider this ESB Networks guide. It wants consumers to place the electric meter in a cabinet on a wall facing the main entrance.
They won’t connect your property to their electrical service if you install the meter box in a location they haven’t approved. For instance, behind a gate or on the porch. You must comply with their rules. They’ve included diagrams that highlight the locations they prefer for their meter.
3). Why Do Energy Providers Prefer Outside Over Inside?
External locations are more accessible. The energy company will send technicians to your property every few weeks to record the meter readings. Those individuals can access an external meter at any time of the day or night without talking to you.
This is the most convenient option. It is also beneficial for you because electricians can fix damaged meters and resolve interference issues in your absence. An inside meter creates unnecessary delays.
Admittedly, external electric meters are exposed to the elements. They can fall prey to pests, wild animals, direct sunlight, heavy storms, and the like. North Power recommends a robust weatherproof enclosure for that reason.
Although that doesn’t necessarily resolve the accessibility issue; for example, if you install the meter box behind a tree, heavy vegetation, or between two walls in a very narrow alley, the energy provider will force you to move it to a more accessible location. This process could cost you thousands of dollars.
Nonetheless, if you must choose between the two, outdoors makes more sense for an electric meter.
4). Can You Install An Electric Meter Inside?
- First of all, some regions won’t give you a choice. They penalize customers that install electric meters inside. They only permit outdoor meters.
- Secondly, if you install an electric meter inside, the energy company is still obligated to take readings. But they must first ask for permission to enter your home. This is highly inconvenient for both parties. What if you’re at work and there’s no one to open the door for them? Are you willing to trust them with your keys?
- Keep in mind that meter readers will estimate your energy consumption based on your readings from previous months if they cannot access your meter. In other words, if you don’t want to sacrifice your time to let the meter readers into your home whenever they call you at inconvenient hours of the day, they will punish you with inaccurate readings, forcing you to pay for more electricity than you used. As you can see, inside meters are not worth the hassle.
- The only benefit of installing an electric meter inside is that you can consult it whenever you want, even at night, without going outside.
5). Does The Meter Type Matter?
Smart meters communicate directly with the energy provider. The company won’t send technicians to manually record readings if you have a smart meter. Therefore, you can get away with putting a smart meter inside.
However, smart meters require a reliable internet connection. If obstructions in your home have prevented the smart meter from talking to the energy provider, an electrician may encourage you to move the meter outside.
Additionally, smart meters inside the house can become an inconvenience if they develop faults. Any electrician you contact needs access to a smart meter to fix it. The meter will become a pain if you must come home to let the electrician into your home.
6). Are Electric Meters On The Inside Safe?
Yes, electric meters are safe inside. Smart meters emit electromagnetic radiation, which scares people. However, this Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study has confirmed that exposure to this radiofrequency radiation won’t harm you.
The Policies And Practices Of Utility Companies Regarding The Placement Of Electric Meters
Utility companies prefer to install meters outside because they are easier to access. UK Power Solutions has noted that some companies may tolerate indoor meters if they don’t place electricians at risk.
But if they have a choice in the matter, they will prioritize outdoor meters. The meters in question are safe despite the dangerous elements they may face because utility providers hide them inside strong enclosures.
Interestingly, the Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) has noticed that energy providers love smart meters because of the rich data they provide. But consumers are more likely to install smart meters inside.
The Local Building Codes And Regulations That Dictate The Placement Of Electric Meters
Energy providers usually dictate the placement of electric meters. This is because federal organizations are silent on this issue, precluding clauses that encourage contractors to provide a sufficient working area.
The majority of local building codes that mention electric meter placement want contractors to place them outside. Otherwise, utility companies are expected to make this decision, which is why electric meters usually appear outside.
Energy companies won’t make any decisions that inconvenience their workers. It is in their best interests to simplify access to electric meters by keeping them outside where technicians can take readings and initiate repairs without disrupting the homeowner’s activities.
If you want to install a meter yourself, don’t proceed until you’ve read the local rules and regulations. Better yet, talk to a local electrician. They know the rules.
Can An Electric Meter Be Inside A Screen Porch?
Remember that energy providers install electric meters outside to make them more accessible. If you’re tempted to place your meter inside the screen porch, ask yourself whether this decision will make the meter more accessible or less accessible.
Despite what you may think, the meter doesn’t need the porch’s cover. It doesn’t require protection from rain and snow. The meter box will defend it from the elements. As such, there’s no benefit to placing the meter inside a screen porch.
If anything, the screen porch may complicate accessibility. That being said, if you have the right to choose the meter’s placement, the energy provider won’t stop you. A contributor to this Money-Saving-Expert thread faced a similar situation. He had to seek permission from the local Distribution Network Operator in the UK. He also paid a fee to the DNO, who did some alterations to his electrical infrastructure.
Even if the local regulations are silent about this issue, call the energy provider before you do anything. Again, they own the meter. You don’t want them to penalize you for breaking their rules.
Can Electric Meter Be Inside Garage?
Yes, an electric meter can be inside the garage. You can install electric meters in various indoor locations, such as under the sink, in a cupboard, under the stairs, and in the garage. The garage is no different from any other location inside. It presents the same challenges.
For instance, you must let the utility provider’s technicians into your home to read the meter. Granted, this is not as inconvenient today as it once was because you can schedule a visit that allows the technician to come on the days you’re sure you’ll be home.
Nonetheless, it would be easier to keep the meter outside. But you won’t cause any harm by installing the device in a garage. In fact, the garage provides added protection.
Where Are Electric Meters In Apartments?
You will be hard-pressed to find a building manager that keeps the electric meters within the individual apartments. Usually, the energy provider installs them in the same location outside, in the basement, or on the ground floor.
The meters are labeled to simplify the process of identifying the apartment associated with each meter.