main disconnect between meter base and main panel

JasmarDecember 12, 2013

I find myself in a position where the meter base on my home has to be replaced. I initially wanted to replace it with a meter base main combo but no one I have talked to so far seems to be willing to install one. Apparently they are just not done where I am (North Texas). The Poco has advised that they do not care if a combo meter base/main is used stating that post deregulation they no longer require specific meter bases. The only requirement seems to be that it must be a ringless style and pass inspection by my city's electrical inspector. Every electrician I have spoken to says its just not something they do here. In lieu of installing a combo box It has been suggested that I have a 200A disconnect installed between the meter box and my main panel if I truly want some means to disconnect power to my main panel. However at least one electrician says that would then make my main panel a sub and I would need to separate grounds and neutrals and add a neutral between the new disconnect and the inside panel. I was under the impression that the disconnect would be considered service equipment and not subject to NEC guidelines. I will try asking the poco but as its a very large company that kind of info is hard to acquire as a homeowner.
Are there any meter box/main combos that do not also act as a panel themselves? In other words are there any that have just the meter socket and a main breaker. Not one that has meter socket/main and places for breakers? I want a means to disconnect right at the service entrance but dont want to cause my main panel to have to be treated as a sub if possible. Are the 320A/400A meter main combos (the ones with 2 200A breakers treated as the main panel making the two 200A panels tied to them subs?

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"at least one electrician says that would then make my main panel a sub"
That is correct information.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 7:17PM
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The neutral and ground must be separate after the first means of disconnect. If it a disconnecting means, with or without breakers, is installed at the meter then yes, your panel is now a sub.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 3:52PM
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Ron Natalie

Yep, this is exactly how my house is wired. There's the meter, then the main disconnect (where they grounding system is bonded to the neutral conductor). After that the grounds and neutrals are separate. Next comes the automatic transfer switch for the 80KVA generator and then that feeds the "main" panel (separate grounds/neutrals) which has a hand full of branch circuits as well as the feeders to two other "sub" panels.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 12:04AM
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Thanks for the responses. Makes sense. Just wishful thinking on my part it seems. Have the ok to add a disconnect on the outside from local inspector at the same time that meter base repairs are made but not if it requires work on the inside which will require bringing more of the 30 year old installation up to current code. Turns out that even though the POCO rep advised that they no longer cared what meter bases were installed that may not be totally true. Most likely the reason none of the local electricians are familiar with combo meter base/mains/load centers is because the POCO does not have them on their approved list. Where to find a hub for a 30-35 year old meter base......

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 11:54AM
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