You will spend $200 to $500. That price tag seems manageable. However, your expenses can quickly jump to $1,200, possibly even $5,000. Prices tend to fluctuate depending on various factors, such as the age of the meter box, location, the materials you need, etc.
Consult an electrician before making your budget. The electrician will reveal the estimated cost after analyzing your situation.
Factors To Consider That Fluctuates The Electric Meter Installation Cost
$500 sounds like a reasonable price for an electric meter installation. Why would anyone spend $1,200 on a new electric meter? The following factors tend to shape the price tags homeowners routinely encounter:
You typically find electric meters outside. This allows the utility company’s technicians to access the meter. Smart meters are different because they communicate directly with the service provider.
However, technicians must access traditional meters physically to take readings manually. The building code in your area may create complications if it includes clauses and regulations that compel you to place the meter in a location that requires heavy construction, modifications, and expensive materials.
For instance, any installation that involves knocking walls down to make the meter more accessible will elevate the labor fees. Some regulatory bodies prohibit consumers from placing meters near water sources such as gutters. Any remodeling the rules force you to do will hurt your wallet.
Electric meters are just like every other electronic device. The most sophisticated meter types are also the most expensive. For instance, you can get an analog meter for $30. Analog meters are simplistic. They don’t do anything else besides revealing your energy consumption.
And you can’t necessarily trust their accuracy. Smart meters, on the other hand, are incredibly advanced. Besides communicating directly with the utility company (and making visits from technicians that take manual meter readings unnecessary), they allow homeowners to monitor their usage patterns in real time, which is why they cost hundreds of dollars.
Then again, your utility provider will most likely offer a free upgrade. Your energy bill will eventually cover the installation cost. But you can refuse the upgrade if you don’t like smart meters.
Complexity Of The Installation
You wouldn’t expect the complexity of the installation to matter. After all, a skilled technician will overcome any obstacle they encounter. However, you must keep the labor fees in mind. The labor will cost you more than the meter box and its contents.
According to Forbes, electricians charge $50 to $150 per hour. Usually, an electric meter installation takes one to two hours. The more complex the installation, the longer it will take and the more money you will pay in labor fees.
This is why any electrician you hire should visit your home before estimating the cost of an electric meter installation. Let them study your home to better understand the obstacles they will encounter.
Meter Options And Upgrades
Have you consulted the utility company? Do they offer installation services? You won’t know what to expect until you talk to them. Utility companies usually upgrade electric meters for free. But you can’t say the same for a new meter.
Crown Energy has noted that utility providers can move a meter for free to improve access. Otherwise, they will charge you a fee if cosmetic factors have influenced the move. The cheapest option is to install the meter yourself.
Once the utility company disconnects the power, you can do the rest. This eliminates the labor fees. Unfortunately, most people don’t have this option. Regulatory bodies have a reputation for prohibiting laypeople from performing complicated electrical work.
Wiring And Infrastructure Costs
The materials are the least of your worries. The biggest expense is most likely the meter box. You may spend $600 or more for a 400A meter box, $350 for 200 amps, $200 for 150 amps, and $50 for 100 amps.
The larger the meter box size, the more money you will pay. Besides the meter box, you can get the connectors and fasteners for $100 or less. They won’t impact your budget drastically. Although, meter boxes feature three stranded wires with large gauges.
Your expenses will grow noticeably if you need to replace these wires.
Naturally, the complexity of the installation plays a role here. The more complex the procedure, the more materials you require, especially if the installation forces you to remodel sections of your home.
Additional Services Or Equipment
You can install the meter for a friendly fee if you already have a meter box that contains everything you need, including the wiring, frame, sockets, and connection lugs. If you need a brand new meter box, your budget will get bigger.
The strongest meter boxes with the largest sizes have the fattest price tags. You will also pay more money for new subpanels and breakers. Utility companies may offer to move meters in inaccessible locations or fix meters that have sustained damage.
Visit the utility company’s website to determine your responsibilities. While you own the meter box, the electric meter inside belongs to the utility company, and they may penalize you for tampering with it.
But does that mean they are responsible for maintaining, repairing, and replacing it when it fails? These are the questions the website will answer. There’s no point in hiring an electrician to repair and maintain the meter when the utility company will perform these tasks for free.
Smart meters are usually free, or at the very least, they don’t have upfront costs. You can refuse them or ask the supplier to turn the device into a conventional meter by removing the extra functions. This prevents the meter from communicating with the utility provider.
Government And Regulatory Fees
The authorities in your area have guidelines that regulate electrical installations. For instance, if you need to pull new wires through conduits in the ground (because you require a service entrance cable), you must keep them at a specific distance from the gas lines.
The rules may also specify the distance between the meter and other objects in the vicinity in an effort to improve accessibility. These rules are inconvenient because they can increase the cost of installation, especially when they force you to make modifications to your home to accommodate the meter.
However, the government won’t burden you with regulatory fees, precluding any permits you must acquire beforehand.
Ancillary Costs And Considerations
- You can’t change the meter without consulting the utility company. If you want to replace the meter, the utility provider will secure the permits, which may cost you $300 or less, depending on your location.
- The utility provider may also charge you a fee for performing an inspection before and after the installation.
- If you have a warranty for your meter, it may not cover the cost of replacing an old or damaged meter. But your insurer may step in at this point and reduce the cost depending on your policy.
Cost-Saving Measures To Install Electric Meter
- Where possible, do the work yourself. You can easily shave off hundreds of dollars, maybe even thousands, in labor fees. This assumes that your location allows laypeople to perform such tasks.
- Ask a professional to perform an inspection. They can use what they’ve seen to make a plan. This reduces the number of costly mistakes you will make.
- Make sure you’ve obtained all the relevant permits before proceeding. Otherwise, you will incur hefty penalties.
- If you’ve decided to hire an expert, consider as many electricians as possible until you find a professional with labor fees low enough to fit into your budget but not so low that you can’t trust their competence.
- It takes an electrician roughly two hours to install a meter, which is not a long time. You can save money by only hiring him when you have multiple projects that require his attention. For instance, the electrician can fix a few broken appliances after installing the meter. This is more cost-effective than hiring an expert to perform one task.
- Don’t install the meter in locations that compel you to open walls. Your budget will balloon. At the very least, break and repair the wall yourself while the electrician deals with the electrical work.