Service Entrance Amps?

I did a inspection today and the electric service entrance was underground. This meter box is rectangular (see photo), does this appear to be 200 amp service? How can you measure the service entrance cable when it is underground and enclosed up to the meter?


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You really can’t see it …so what to do? Well if you look at the size and shape of the meter box in “general” a box that size would tell me it’s at least 100 amp service BUT is that absolute…No So you check out what the main breaker is rated at (hopefully there is one) and go from there. Remember the POCO determines what gage service conductor they are going to run to the house.

This is a good question for the board sparkies… How does the POCO deal with lateral installs? Is it to the meter or otherwise?

Paul, Joe, Greg…


You need to be concerned with the actual wire that enters into the Service Panel and not as much on the wire entering into the Meter Cab…since it is underground you would not deal on the latteral side of the inspection…

Now…as it comes up and into the Service Panel…THAt is where you need to check the wire size and make the determination from that point…yes the signs are there…the meter can appears to be a 200A model ( assuming ofcourse )…

Put the entire string of EVENTS together…

1.) Not every case but does the meter itself say 200 CL on it or not?..granted I have seen 200CL in 100A meter cabs…but again all part of a puzzle.

2.) What size conduit is running into it…is it 2" Conduit?..not a major clue but always a nice additional clue as a 100A would not usually have a 2"…BUT it could…so you need all the factors.

3.) What size is the MAIN breaker in the service panel?

4.) What size is the conductors coming INTO the service panel?

You need all the factors to list it correctly…now…as stated the POCO can pretty much do what they want to do…and you can’t verify their work from the can down through the latteral…but you can from the meter going into the service panel…IF you pull the cover and verify the rating of the service enclosure, the main breaker size, the service conductors size…and remember the weakest LINK is the rating.

FYI- Here is a nice article for you…once you go to it skip down to Underground Services

P.S. The shape of the meter itself to ME looks like a 200A…100A meter cans are usualy square and smaller…

edit- typing while Paul posted.

Some POCOs provide the lateral TO the meter pan. Some still provide up to and including the meter pan.
Many require the customer to provide and install the whole lateral. My area is as such.
When the POCO runs it they run whatever they feel is necessary and you typically have no choice. I have heard #2 being run underground for 200 amp services. If this is the case, and it is a POCO jurisdiction, IMO you have no recourse to write it up. It’s out of the customer’s hands.

I am required to run service lateral according to common NEC guidelines, along with mt POCO requirements. IE: 4/0al for 200 amps, #2al for 100 amps, etc. This is considering logical distances set by the POCO. Normally under 300’. Any longer and the primary must be run closer.

As far as the service in question, a safe guess is 200 amps. A meter pan that size, along with the 2" conduit are the keys.
While it is legal to have a larger panel than the service entrance, it is not common. As long as the load calculation is within the limits of the service entrance.

I’d call that 150 or 200 amps, whatever the main breaker rating is.

Beat ya Speedster…Call me SpeedyPaulie

I have never seen FPL run a lateral smaller than 310.15(B)(6) but overhead drops are usually #2 triplex for just about any dwelling 200a or less

Neither have I in person. I have though gotten feedback on message boards such as this that some POCO’s do run smaller than 310.15(B)(6) for laterals.

I guess the logic is the same. They follow their own rules so they do as they please.

AGREED…they WIRE to their own TRENCH TUNE ! least when it is a overhead they use the excuse it is FREE AIR and can be smaller and all that JAZZ…lol

Where I am at the POCO always ran 3/0 AL with 1/0 AL for the neutral whenever it was underground. They said the reason for the 3/0 1/0 was so they wouln’t have to come in and replace it when the customer upgraded to 200 amps. It was always CIC. This meant you always had 200 amp conductors feeding the meter can, but there were many services completed with 100 amp cans and 100 amp conductors from the can to the panel.

However last spring they announced they will no longer lay CIC, now they require the customer to provide a conduit system all the way to the transformer pad or to the base of the pole. They will pull in the conductors. Since it is now a conduit system I don’t know if they still use 200 amp conductors on 100 amp services, altho there are not too many 100 amp services in new construction these days.

Here’s a good link for you guys and gals. Lots of info…be sure to check out the section on meters. I did find it odd that the conduit size method for underground services was for copper wire sizes only, I have never seen a utility use copper!

The lateral may have been installed before the requirement calling for an expansion fitting, now required by the code for about 2-3 code cycles.

This is the responsibility of the installer, see the FPN in 300.5(J).


In my area ( I am sure not everywhere ) the Expansion pipe is done by the POCO on latterals. Since in most cases we do not install the underground latteral the meter is SET and the POCO brings in the power and handles that…atleast in my area…again not sure about anywhere else…

However I have done some where we have to run the latteral to the PAD…and we did use the expansion at the meter cab…but it was because WE had to run the latteral to the PAD…but normally under Residential installations around here POCO takes care of that part.

How about up YOUR way…?

OH…lets not forget that while the Conduit may move…we have to ensure the actual CABLE can move as well…so the old saying…only enough cable to REACH the lugs is a " Misnomer"…how do you spell Misnomer…anyway !

Most areas who adopted the NEC require that the expansion fittings be installed as required by code in Article 300 for the lateral, and in the PVC articles when run above ground.

Section 300.7(B) 352.30, 54, Table 352.44, 366.44, 368.44, 378.44, and others mention expansion joints.