Main breaker inside vs. outside the house?

In upgrading our electrical we have the choice of either keeping the main breaker inside the house or locating it outside as part of a combo unit with the meter? [Note we need a separate main breaker since the main panel is about 20 feet away from where the meter is and the supply enters the house]
Locating the main breaker outside would save a little money since we avoid the need for a separate breaker box inside.
Are there any disadvantages (or advantages) to having the main breaker outside?
(note we still will be able to shut off power inside at the main panel, I assume)
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put it at the meter to kill indoor panel you walk outside to the meter area, it might be raining or dark ?

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snipped-for-privacy@consult.pretender (Jeffrey J. Kosowsky) wrote:

The main breaker needs to be within 10' of where the power comes in.

It meets code in your case? Get one that is lockable, if you live in an area with pranksters.

Any panel with more than 4 or 6 circuits, needs its own "main" that shuts that whole panel down as well as the "house main".
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I'm not sure I understand. As someone else already said: You need to have a main shutoff for the whole house outside (for the fire department to kill power to a burning house quickly, without going in), which has to be within 10' of the meter. So the main breaker (which nearly always is the main shutoff for a residential system) will go outside, whether you like it or not. So I fail to see how the main breaker could possible be inside. It is theoretically possible that your local area has modified the standard electrical code to allow the main shutoff to be inside, but I find that unlikely.
But you also say that you will be able to shut off power inside (which I think is an excellent idea, I'd hate to have to go outside anytime a breaker trips or I want to kill a particular circuit), *** but you say at the main panel *** (which has to be outside, so how could this work)?
The only way this makes sense is if you are asking the following question: Given that the main breaker will be outside, does it make sense to have two panels: One outside, with just a main breaker to cut power to the whole house, feeding nothing but one big wire that goes to a single subpanel inside, with lots of little breakers in it, and from where power is distributed? I'm all in favor of that, and that's exactly how our house is wired: Outside is just a meter and a 200A breaker. and located in the basement in a central location (from where all wire runs are reasonably short) is a big subpanel with all the breakers. Cost is a little higher (two panels), but not terribly much, because the outside panel can be a reasonable small one with very few breaker slots.
The way I look at this is: You save a lot of money by doing the electrical installation yourself. We decided to take some of those savings, and plow them into having a better electrical system, by upgrading things all over the place: Two separate panels in convenient locations, use a more expensive but easier to work in large panel (we have a 40-slot panel for a 1700 sqft house, without use of tandem breakers), divide the house into more circuits than one would usually do (to modularize wire runs), use heavier gauge wire, put some runs into conduit to allow future upgrades without having to fish wires, and use better outlets and more dimmers. This also left us much room for expansion, which has really paid off this year when finishing the basement, and adding a 100A subpanel for the woodshop.
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_firstname_@lr_dot_los-gatos_dot_ca.us wrote:

It can be inside, but the 10' rule still applies. If your main breaker panel is on the wall inside of where the power comes in, than an inside main is ok.
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I suspect that you are misunderstanding the reason why the shutoff has to be close to the meter. Given that in order to get to my panel, you have to go into the house and down and under the cellar stairs, it's not going to be so you can get to it quickly. I suspect, rather, that it's because you don't want to have a 30-70' of number 2 cable running through the length of your house with no shutoff but the transformer even after you've "shut off" the power in your house.
It'd kind of suck to shut off the mains, and then hit the feeder cable with your sawsall while cutting down an interior wall....
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Actually, I don't think it would "suck". I think it would more "blow", and the person operating the sawsall would blow first :-)
This makes for an even better reason to have a main breaker on the outside of the house (not just a shutoff, but a real breaker, which will automatically open under overload). What if someone is harmlessly nailing somewhere (maybe nailing something to the floor right above the big feeder cable), or nailing to the other side of the joist that the feeder is attached to), and hits the feeder? If you get lucky, the nail burns a hole into the conductor, and maybe it electrocutes the person. If you get unlucky, you burn down the house.
When we built our house (which has about 50' of a 200A feeder going from the main panel outside the house to the subpanel in the center of the basement), I decided that the feeder was going to go into conduit. Partially that was for safety reasons (even EMT, which is pretty thin-wall, gives you reasonable protection and a good visual warning in the 1.5" size required for a 200A feeder). Partially that was because buying the required feeder cable in NM-style (we needed #2/0-3) was impractical to obtain: home centers don't stock it, and the electrical distributors only sell a whole reel, which is HORRENDOUSLY expensive. Even as it was, installing the feeder was not cheap (two-ought cable is expensive, 1.5" conduit and the fittings for it is expensive, and I had to bring the conduit to a pipe bending company to have two custom bends made in it, because I couldn't find any place that would lend or rent me a pipe bender that size).
Don't even ask how much fun it was to pull the four wires (including ground) through the conduit. Even with a whole bottle of pulling lubricant in the conduit and cleaning sand/dirt off the wire meticulously before going into the conduit, we ended up having to use a 2x4 attached to the end of the wire as a lever to aid in pulling. It was a miserable afternoon. Should have used larger conduit.
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_firstname_@lr_dot_los-gatos_dot_ca.us wrote:

Only some local building codes require a shut off outside the house. There is no such requirement in the US NEC. You appear to be confusing the main panel which is a term of art with the National Electric Code Service Disconnecting Means which is a national standard regulatory term.
The NEC defines panels in two categories. These are Lighting and Appliance and Power. A lighting and appliance branch-circuit panelboard is one having more than 10 percent of its overcurrent devices protecting lighting and appliance branch circuits.
A lighting and appliance branch circuit is a branch circuit that has a connection to the neutral of the panelboard and that has overcurrent protection of 30 amperes or less in one or more conductors.
A service disconnecting means can take many forms of which a panel mounted breaker is but one. Some of the others are fused & unfused disconnects, Fused pull outs, enclosed circuit breakers, and in the case of the Grounded Current Carrying Conductor a lug or terminal. -- Tom H
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I'm not an electrician, but I've been taught that when the load panel is remote (>'?) from the entrance/meter that a disconnect (not a breaker) has to be installed at the meter by code. The main breaker would be in the load panel per norm.
As far as fire response personnel go, I believe that they routinely pull the meter before entering involved structures.
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Eric Ryder wrote:

You were taught wrong. The distance from the point of entry of the service entry conductors to the interior of the structure to the service disconnecting means is what is limited rather than the distance from the meter. An enclosed circuit breaker is a perfectly acceptable Service Disconnecting Means under the US NEC. If there is a disconnecting means elswere then the panel will be main lug only (MLO) unless the main breaker panel is cheaper. Although a few fire departments still pull meters there is not one public utility that approves of this practice. Meter jaws are not designed to be separated under load. Arcing and arc burns can result from doing so. Services larger than four hundred amperes will not be deenergized by pulling the meter. Meter cans in the 225 to 400 range are usually equipped with shunts that bypass the meter when the lever is operated to release the jaw tension on the meter. -- Tom H
PS I am an electrician and a firefighter.
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10' of SE conductor.

Mine issues meter keys to the various FD's. (all newer services, and older services 200a or higher automaticall het meter locks, not just thos silly money-bag seals) They do approve of not only pulling the meter out, but also give them insulated covers to close up the live jaws. In addition, they approve of the FF's taking a nice swift axe hit to the meter itself, (while on the ground) to prevent the customer from plugging it back in before the homeowner re-obtains his CofO.

Nevermind the potential for arc burns, the meters are pulled right before they're about to enter an involved residence.

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HA HA Budys Here wrote:

Buddy What utility serves your area that encourages the FD to pull meters under load? The Edison Electric Institute has alleged that no investor owned utility approves of this practice. I'd like to chase down the exception to find out the reasoning behind their position. -- Tom H
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If your still not understanding this remember that the "wire" needs to be protected and even a non fused switch or non breakered switch is some protection for that 10 foot section before your panel.
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dave wrote:

Uh, how is a switch going to provide circuit overcurrent protection?
Matt
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well if its only 10' of wire, it'll act as a fuseable link eventually.

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bumtracks wrote:

Not necessarily. The switch may have a higher current capacity than the 10' of wire! :-)
Matt
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The switch is a form of protection as there is smoke coming from in the wall ! If someone is there to notice they can turn it off. If not the switch will burn open before the wiring, most times.......
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