The Electrical Service

Which service type do I need?

       The first part of this decision, underground or overhead feed, may be totally decided by your electric utility provider. They may have only one option for your location. You will definitely need to contact your utility and discuss this with them. It might be your choice of which type to use, but there will usually be a price difference between the two, so be sure to ask.

    While you are speaking with your utility company, ask them if they have a book for you with their guidelines. Every power company in the nation has slightly different requirements you must meet in order for them to connect your power. I will cover the general rules and the codes covered by the NEC on this site. It is wise to check with the local power company, though, on things such as meter type and location, clearances, heights and conduit size for their side of the connection.

    Once you have decided on whether you will install an overhead or an underground feed, you need to decide between surface mount and a flush mount. A surface mount is just what it implies; the service equipment and conduit will be mounted on the outside surface of your house. In a flush mount installation, the equipment will be installed within the outside wall, with only the front of the meter base exposed. When possible I prefer a flush mount, mainly just for appearances.

    Your third decision will be whether you will use a simple meter base and main breaker panel(s), or a meter-main and sub-panel(s). The vast majority of houses can use the simpler method, a meter base and main breaker panel. This would apply where you can mount your meter base at the incoming power location, and mount your panel either next to it or behind it (in or on the inside wall, usually in the garage).

    The meter-main sub-panel style is only necessary when you need to mount your meter in one location and your house panel in a location some distance away. This is usually much more expensive and more complicated, so it should only be used when absolutely necessary.

    Now that you have decided which service to install, it’s time to start learning how! Click on the appropriate section below.