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Old 10-15-2016, 10:26 AM   #1
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Main Breaker Panel vs. Main Lug Panel


Just bought a house and decided to add a whole house surge protector. When I inspected the outside panel this is what I found:

The electric meter is connected to an outside main lug panel that includes breakers for the two separate furnaces, the two a/c units, electric range and indoor panel, but does not (because it's a lug panel) have a main circuit breaker. The indoor panel in my garage has a main circuit breaker and the various breakers for inside appliances, etc.

The only way I can install the surge protector seems to be to open up the meter and cut the power there. I'm not sure how the power company would view this. Should I have an electrician come in and substitute a main breaker (outside-rated) panel in place of the main lug panel? Is the use of a main lug panel as explained above even compliant with applicable code?

Thanks in advance for any input.
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Old 10-15-2016, 10:30 AM   #2
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Re: Main Breaker Panel vs. Main Lug Panel


Call the POCO.... they'll pull the meter for you.
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Old 10-15-2016, 01:39 PM   #3
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Re: Main Breaker Panel vs. Main Lug Panel


So long as there are six or fewer breaker handles all within reach and that all together will shut off all the power to the building, it is okay.

Even if you had a panel with a top breaker out there, it might still be necessary to have the power company pull the meter.
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Old 10-15-2016, 03:03 PM   #4
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Re: Main Breaker Panel vs. Main Lug Panel


There are whole house SPD's that fit right under the meter. Most POCO's sell or lease these types of meters. Check with your POCO first.

Easy to install...some have led's or sound warning when not operating to specs.

https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-50240.../dp/B0019F6X3I
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Old 10-15-2016, 05:10 PM   #5
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Re: Main Breaker Panel vs. Main Lug Panel


If you have firmly decided to proceed with a "whole house" surge protector, then you likely will end up calling an electrician. Even after the POCO de-energizes the lines, you may need to change the primary supply lugs in the outside panel if that's where this surge device recommends its connection. Homeowners shouldn't be doing things like that on their own. When loads are connected in parallel to the cities primary service conductors, your rupture (short circuit) current is huge. Basically, the fault will clear itself before the cities fusing opens. The city doesn't want to send out crews every time a squirrel (or something silly) shorts out the lines (HV or LV)....they'd rather burn the fault clear. It's risky stuff.....I'd call a qualified licenced electrical contractor, or evaluate how badly you want WHOLE HOUSE on surge protection. Perhaps, local protective devices at the sensitive loads might be an option?

Last edited by Power-; 10-15-2016 at 05:11 PM. Reason: Missing word
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Old 10-16-2016, 07:44 PM   #6
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Re: Main Breaker Panel vs. Main Lug Panel


Quote:
Originally Posted by DanS26 View Post
There are whole house SPD's that fit right under the meter. Most POCO's sell or lease these types of meters. Check with your POCO first.

Easy to install...some have led's or sound warning when not operating to specs.

https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-50240.../dp/B0019F6X3I
And if your POCO is particularly sensitive to transients, they will install an SPD on the transformer right on the pole. Surprised me, but it doesn't get better than that.
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