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Do I Need to Replace My Electrical Meter to Install a Solar System?

Occasionally, a home's electrical meter needs to be updated prior to installing solar. There are a few different reasons this could be the case--keep reading to learn more about these instances and how much they affect your project price. 

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What does a meter do?

An electrical meter is a device installed by your utility to keep track of your household's electricity and/or gas usage. 

There are many different brands and models of meters, but they are generally attached to or located near your main electrical panel, outside of your home. 

For homes with solar, a special kind of meter is used to track both incoming electricity from your utility and excess energy that your solar system pushes back into the grid. This type of meter is called a net meter.

Updating to a net meter

If you are shopping around for solar, you've probably heard of a process called net meteringNet metering tracks the amount of extra energy your system sends into the power grid, and most utility companies will provide a credit for this energy to help offset the cost of any energy from the utility that you use in the evenings or inclement weather (when your system is not producing).

As mentioned previously, a net meter can track energy flowing both out of and into the grid. This will allow your power company to calculate your bill accurately every month.

If you do not already have a meter with these capabilities, a new one will need to be installed. Your utility will source and install your new meter, and this won't affect your project cost in most cases.

Many utilities now install more advanced components by default, called smart meters, which already have two-way metering capabilities built in. If this is the case, placing a new meter is not necessary.

Other reasons your meter may need replacing

Disregarding the two-way net metering functionalities needed, installing solar can also require updating aspects of your home to bring them up to code. This will ensure everything is wired safely and in accordance with your local jurisdiction's latest requirements. 

When regulations are updated, homeowners are typically grandfathered in to the old requirements as long as a new project isn't started. However, starting a new project (like putting in a solar system) will generally trigger updating homes to current standards. 

If your meter is outdated or damaged, it's more likely that we'll need to replace it prior to installing solar.

A meter replacement/relocation will also involve replacing/relocating your main electrical panel in most cases. This is called a Main Panel Upgrade (MPU), and the costs associated with it can vary based on exactly what is needed. 

You can learn more about Main Panel Upgrades and their associated costs here: What Is a Main Panel Upgrade?

In rare cases, the meter alone will be interchanged. Like an MPU, the cost for this service can vary widely from project to project. 

Conclusion 

An electrical meter is an integral part of your home's electrical system, and it's even more important when installing solar. Meters track your energy and virtually regulate your bill savings.

Project Solar's engineering and utility teams will study the information we've collected about your home and connect with your power company to decide if any changes will need to be made to your meter prior to installing your system. 

In the event your meter needs to be updated, we will coordinate with you, your power company, your jurisdiction, and (if necessary) your installer to get everything figured out. Then, we can move forward with the installation of your system.