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Old 10-15-2012, 06:30 PM   #1
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


Hi All,

Came across the forum looking for some answers to a problem I'm facing. Thought I would try posting here to see if anyone has any thoughts. Thanks in advance for any suggestions-

I have a building on my property that was setup as two apartments by the previous owner. Its setup for an electric meter for the upstairs unit and a seperate meter for the downstairs unit. Each unit has its own breaker box too. The meter sockets are mounted out on the electric pole, one on each side of the pole. I just got around to seeing about getting the electric going to the building and the electric coop charges $25 per month for a meter (ready charge). Since there's two units, that would be $50 month.

That got me thinking about whether I had any options to get both units on one meter. Hypothetically, if there were some type of transfer switch on one unit that allowed it to be switched between the two meters I think the problem would be solved. I haven't checked the code book yet, but was wondering if anyone has done something similar? This seems like a common thing if you wanted to switch between a backup source like a generator and your meter, but when I did a quick google search I didn't see any results for using a manual transfer switch in a scenario like this involving two electric meters.

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Old 10-15-2012, 06:33 PM   #2
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


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Originally Posted by kragan View Post
Hi All,

Came across the forum looking for some answers to a problem I'm facing. Thought I would try posting here to see if anyone has any thoughts. Thanks in advance for any suggestions-

I have a building on my property that was setup as two apartments by the previous owner. Its setup for an electric meter for the upstairs unit and a seperate meter for the downstairs unit. Each unit has its own breaker box too. The meter sockets are mounted out on the electric pole, one on each side of the pole. I just got around to seeing about getting the electric going to the building and the electric coop charges $25 per month for a meter (ready charge). Since there's two units, that would be $50 month.

That got me thinking about whether I had any options to get both units on one meter. Hypothetically, if there were some type of transfer switch on one unit that allowed it to be switched between the two meters I think the problem would be solved. I haven't checked the code book yet, but was wondering if anyone has done something similar? This seems like a common thing if you wanted to switch between a backup source like a generator and your meter, but when I did a quick google search I didn't see any results for using a manual transfer switch in a scenario like this involving two electric meters.
You would need two transfer switches... and an electrician.

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Old 10-15-2012, 06:48 PM   #3
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


If you were switching between two meters, wouldn't you still get charged for having two meters?
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Old 10-15-2012, 06:53 PM   #4
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


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If you were switching between two meters, wouldn't you still get charged for having two meters?
He did jump around in what he was saying... not sure what he actually wants.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:07 PM   #5
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


The neatest solution is to buy a meter base with double lugs. Remove the existing meters and route both loads through the one meter base.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:33 PM   #6
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


Is there any chance the OP wants to go back to two meters in the future?
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:46 PM   #7
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


(copied from another forum)
I would recommend not getting rid of the second meter and the second service.

The building is more valuable as a two family compared with being a single family. If you combine the electric services and also do things to make it look like single family usage, the building could be reclassified as single family. The zoning for the neighborhood could change to single family, too, if yours is the last two or more family building. It would take and act of God. or at least an act of Congress, or at least a big hassle with the local planning board, to rezone as multifamily again.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-15-2012 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:44 PM   #8
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


Thanks for the input so far. I drew up a diagram to help clarify what I'm asking. I see now that one of the meter bases would need to be a double lug to support the load of the second unit. My thought is that with a transfer switch in place I could switch unit 1 over to the unit 2 meter base and then a single meter could serve for both units. Still, I'm curious if something like this would be in compliance with the NEC.

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Old 10-15-2012, 09:56 PM   #9
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


I have no idea what you are proposing to do with this transfer switch. A true transfer switches between one power source and another such as POCO power and a generator. It does not combine two power sources.

A transfer switch is an unnecessary piece of equipment.

One problem with what you want to do may be that the wires that feed the two individual meter sockets may not be large enough to handle the combined load of both residences. The POCO may need to run new wires (possibly at your cost).
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Last edited by k_buz; 10-15-2012 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:28 PM   #10
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


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Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
I have no idea what you are proposing to do with this transfer switch. A true transfer switches between one power source and another such as POCO power and a generator. It does not combine two power sources.

A transfer switch is an unnecessary piece of equipment.

One problem with what you want to do may be that the wires that feed the two individual meter sockets may not be large enough to handle the combined load of both residences. The POCO may need to run new wires (possibly at your cost).
Good point about the service drop not being up to the combined capacity, that's something I'll need to consider too.

I'm not sure about "transfer switch" being the correct term for the switch, but essentially the purpose it would serve is to switch unit 1 between two sources, admittedly both of those sources are the POCO . My thought in going this route would be that if I ever wanted to rent both units I could go flip the switch and the units would be on their seperate meter bases (once again) and the tenants would each handle their electric service. I think it would be easier to have a switch like this in place vs having to rewire it again.
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:56 PM   #11
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


Step 1 -- Install transfer switch as shown for Unit 1 but don't connect to the meter box of Unit 2 yet. The purported purpose is to connect up a generator to the other set of feed wires. Requires coordination with power company to pull the meter (#1) while you are doing it.

Step 2 -- Connect the other set of feed wires for the transfer switch to a breaker set in the panel for Unit 2. This makes panel #1 a subpanel of panel #2. You will not exceed the capacity of the service because the main breaker for panel #2 will now cover both units' usage. Does not require coordination with the power company to pull any meters.

You may be able to arrange a "vacation shutoff" for the unused meter for most of the year but will probably have to turn it back on and pay the minimum monthly charge for at least a few months each year.
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Old 10-15-2012, 11:43 PM   #12
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


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Step 1 -- Install transfer switch as shown for Unit 1 but don't connect to the meter box of Unit 2 yet. The purported purpose is to connect up a generator to the other set of feed wires. Requires coordination with power company to pull the meter (#1) while you are doing it.

Step 2 -- Connect the other set of feed wires for the transfer switch to a breaker set in the panel for Unit 2. This makes panel #1 a subpanel of panel #2. You will not exceed the capacity of the service because the main breaker for panel #2 will now cover both units' usage. Does not require coordination with the power company to pull any meters.

You may be able to arrange a "vacation shutoff" for the unused meter for most of the year but will probably have to turn it back on and pay the minimum monthly charge for at least a few months each year.

Thank You. This sounds doable. Here's an updated diagram to make sure I'm on the same page. I think this approach sounds alot more economical than what I was originally thinking and since there's currently no service at the building, I'll be able to get this in place prior to having service turned on.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:46 AM   #13
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


To ensure that both services remain legal, you will need to have both of them turned on and operational for a few months up front. It is better although not mandatory to have each service in a different name (put your spouse on one?)
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Last edited by AllanJ; 10-16-2012 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:08 AM   #14
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


Or you forget about installing a $500 transfer switch, and make one of the existing panels a sub panel of the other.

You are going to have to do rewiring whichever route you choose. In Allen's example, you need another set of wires to panel 2.

Then you have a grounding issue. As a sub panel, panel 1 would have to have to separate the grounds and neutrals, then when you switch power back to its own meter, you would have to reinstall the neutral to ground bonding jumper.

This is why I didn't understand the transfer switch idea. You are adding a piece of expensive equipment that you don't even need.
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:29 PM   #15
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Transfer switch between two electric meters?


He wants to use a single meter now, but preserve the ability to revert back to two separate meter bases if he rents separately. A simple manual transfer switch as demonstrated above would do this, and likely best done as a subpanel as mentioned.

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