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JSchool 11-15-2012 05:04 AM

Smart Meters - aluminum, copper wires incompatible?
So the local power company here in Houston (Centerpoint) sent out a guy to swap our house out to a smart meter yesterday. Only problem is... he couldn't do it.

Apparently the wire running to the house is copper, and the wiring in the house is aluminum (or vice versa?), and there's some "lug" in the analog one that allows this combination but the new smart meter isn't so forgiving.

Now I have to have the power line from the house to the box replaced, about a $4,000 project since the line is underground and a couple hundred feet of it will have to be replaced.

Does this sound right to anyone?

COLDIRON 11-15-2012 05:22 AM

Sounds like theres more to it than copper to aluminum issue at the meter. If they are telling you to replace the underground conductors they are probably failing.

JSchool 11-15-2012 05:34 AM

Okay I spoke to my girlfriend and got a bit more information (I didn't speak to the meter replacer myself). What you're saying might have something to do with it - apparently he measured low voltage in the line. But this is what the notice says that he left:

"Found a foreign clamp in the meter can splicing the line-side wire energizing the loadside lug. Wire needs to be replaced".

I have an electrical engineering background but I only work with low power devices, so I'm not quite sure what he means other than it sounds like the cable had been cut previously requiring a splice and the clamp doing so shouldn't be there because... they don't want it there? Apparently it used to be acceptable and now it's not so they won't replace the meter. Any of that sound right?

k_buz 11-15-2012 05:38 AM

Sounds to me that the meter can is damaged and that when someone fixed it, they didn't use the correct AL/CU lug. Ultimately the POCO will tell you what you are required to do. If they say you have to replace the can, you are going to have to replace the can.

zappa 11-15-2012 05:48 AM

Sounds like a bypass.

busman 11-15-2012 06:20 AM

Yep. Sounds like someone was getting free juice. If this is the case, I'm surprised he didn't pull the meter until this was corrected.


JSchool 11-15-2012 07:47 AM

I wish I were getting free juice! :laughing:

Okay apparently this is what is going on.

The line in coming from underground to the meter was too short so it was spliced (by the power company) some time ago. But the splice is making contact with something which is causing a voltage issue.

The power company wants to remove the splice because they don't allow that sort of solution anymore. But they say that the way to fix that is to run a whole new line out to their box in the back yard.

It's kind of bizarre because they did this to begin. This is all within their own locked box, yet I'm supposed to pay 4k to run a new line to it.

Seems like the meter could just be... moved lower. It's only a six inch splice. Assuming there's no degradation in the underground lines, would that not be a perfectly reasonable alternative?

busman 11-15-2012 09:14 AM

Around here, the PoCo will splice line side conductors in the meter can to save re-running the lateral. I've never seen them do it for a drop. They just replace the cable.


mrairflow 11-15-2012 07:27 PM

tell them your not intereested in the smart meter or the cost associated with repairing it .they should foot tje bill

COLDIRON 11-16-2012 05:09 AM


Originally Posted by mrairflow (Post 1053103)
tell them your not intereested in the smart meter or the cost associated with repairing it .they should foot tje bill

"Might as well talk to the wall"

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