How to Install a Meter Socket
A meter socket houses the electricity for the meter for your home and can also be known as a meter base. The meter itself is provided by your utility company and used to calculate your monthly bills. Individual states may have slightly different legislation about requirements for the meter socket, but for the most part, the installation is standard across the country.
Step 1 - Check Regulations
Although the regulations are relatively standard across the country, you should check for any local exceptions or requirements before commencing work. Some utility companies provide the meter socket as well as the actual meter so you should check that with them in advance so that you don't buy extra equipment or carry out any unnecessary work.
Step 2 - Assemble Components
Assemble the meter loop piping and base socket, adhering to the regulations put in place by the supplying utility. The placement of this assembly must be correct and allow the utility company access when they require it. Make sure that clearances around the meter socket area are in line with recommended guidelines. You should check specifics, but in general terms, the meter socket must be placed at least 10 inches from any obstruction above or to either side, 5 feet up from the finished grade and with 3 square feet of access space kept clear at all times.
Step 3 - Position Power Feed Lines
The power feed wires should be of the correct rating for the overall amperage capacity required on your circuit. There will be three wires: two with black insulation and one white. If you are unsure, check in advance with the utility company. Feed the power lines through the top meter loop pipe then remove around 1½ inches of insulation from each wire with the wire stripper. Apply corrosion inhibitor to the bare copper you expose.
Step 4 - Connect Black Wires
Connect one of the black wires to the “line” terminal in the upper left area of the socket by placing the bare end of the wire inside the metal slot and screwing the retaining bolt into place using a socket wrench. The manufacturer will display torque specifications inside the socket, use the socket torque wrench to apply the required amount of torque to the bolt. Follow the same procedure to connect the other black wire to the “line” terminal on the top right of the socket.
Step 5 - Connect Neutral Wire
Connect the white wire to the central terminal which will be labeled “line neutral” and adhere to the torque specifications as for the other wires.
Step 6 - Connect Home Load
Following the same procedure, connect the black wires that feed the main home panel to the “load” terminals after stripping back 1½ inches of insulation from them and applying the corrosion inhibitor. The white cable should be connected to the central terminal. Ensure that all of the connections have the correct level of torque.
Step 7 - Connect Ground Wire
Connect the assembly to the ground rod that should previously have been installed in the earth. The bare copper ground wire should be connected to the “ground” terminal in the meter socket.