1. Meter Locate the meter as far from the curb and as close to the main electrical panel as possible. Generally, the power provider pays for the cable from street to meter, but some limit the meter’s distance from the front of the house to one-third the total depth of the building.
2. Panel Locate the panel as close to heavy load centers—e.g. kitchen and utility rooms—as possible. This minimizes the need for expensive, high-capacity cables. Be aware of the many rules concerning panel location, such as a 15-foot max unfused run from meter; 3-foot minimum front, and 30-inch minimum side clearances; and panels may not be situated in a closet.
3. Efficiency Tips Carefully design the system before-hand to minimize the number and lengths of runs. Leaving this to field electricians almost guarantees inefficiency. Use 1,000-foot rolls of Romex rather than smaller boxed lengths. Consider pre-fabricating circuits in the shop with less expensive labor.
Advance planning on where to place the electrical meter and panel can save money in more efficient use of electrical cable and an electrician’s time.
A quick look at some framers who get energy-efficient framing right.
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John McManus is an award-winning editorial director for the Residential Construction Group at Hanley Wood in Washington, D.C. In addition to the BUILDER digital, print, and in-person editorial and programming portfolio, the group includes strategic content direction for AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE, APARTMENT FINANCE TODAY, CUSTOM HOME, EcoHome, MULTIFAMILY EXECUTIVE, and residential architect.
Clearly, home builders have liked what's been happening, and comparatively, they'd rather be where they are now than at any time in about seven years.
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