If you want to install solar, you may need a meter box upgrade. Our electricians review and handle a variety of upgrades every day.
Why do I need a meter box upgrade?
Your household meter box contains many electrical components including the meter, the main switch, fuses, and circuit breakers. They control the flow of electricity to your home.
In the absence of a battery, the energy your solar system produces that isn’t consumed, is sent to the grid. In the interest of safety, your meter box must meet current Australian standards and distributor requirements. If it doesn’t, your solar install will fail, and your connection won’t be finalised. It’s the law!
Following are some of the typical upgrades our electricians complete every day, including a switchboard upgrade, new meter box and an MSB replacement.
Do I need a switchboard upgrade?
These old ceramic fuses no longer meet safety standards. Back when these were first installed, we didn’t have as many appliances as we do now. These ceramics are a fire hazard due to potential overload.
If your meter box looks like this inside, we’ll need to complete a switchboard upgrade. The new switchboard will feature individual safety switches on all circuits, as well as a neutral link and an isolation link.
Do I need a new meter box?
This meter box has an old chipboard backing panel, which is a fire hazard. In some cases, we find that the backing panel is asbestos. If your meter box looks like this one, the metering must also be upgraded. Therefore, you’ll need a new, portrait-style metal electrical box with a hinged, fire-proof backing panel.
You can keep this box and install a new portrait-style box next to it, which will house the new metering, main safety switch, neutral link and isolation link. Alternatively, you can remove this box and completely replace it (see MSB replacement).
What is an MSB replacement?
This MSB or main switchboard has an old chipboard backing panel, which is a fire hazard. The exposed wiring is a safety hazard and the metering will need an upgrade. Like the previous meter box, you will need to replace the old ceramic fuses. As a result, you’ll need a new, portrait-style metal electrical box with a hinged, fire-proof backing panel.
We can’t retain any of this MSB and therefore a complete replacement is required.
Is my meter box solar ready?
So, you’ve decided to get a few solar quotes. We always recommend a site inspection or home visit so that our solar specialists can review your meter box and how the electricity flows to your home. We need to make sure your meter box meets Australian standards and electricity distributor requirements. In some cases, we may need to send one of our electricians.
Here are just some of the things we look for when we review your meter box and safety switches:
- Are the safety switches in the meter box, or are they located somewhere else in the home or garage? This may involve an additional cable run.
- Do you have spare poles available in the switch board? We need to connect a solar safety switch and if you require a smart meter, you may need a minimum of three spare poles.
- Is your home single phase or three phase? We need to connect the right inverter to ensure voltage distribution.
- Where is the meter box located on the home? It must accessible and located two meters from the front of the property.
- Are there overhead electrical wires? Is the connection point to your roof stable and safe?
Who is my electricity distributor?
Electricity distributors own and maintain the electrical distribution network. They are responsible for maintaining the network, including the powerlines and power poles in your area.
Distributors are different in each state and territory. You can find out who your distributor is via the Australian Energy Regulator.
Regulations are often updated. It’s necessary for solar retailers and installers to stay informed of the latest compliance and safety standards and advise you accordingly.
Regardless of whether you decide to go ahead with solar, we recommend you spend the money and upgrade your meter box and sub board. It’s not just money well spent, it’s an investment in your family’s safety.
Not sure if your meter box needs an upgrade? Get in touch – we’re here to help.