Can you turn the power off to your house from the outside?

cjchaps

Diamond Member
Jul 24, 2000
3,013
1
81
I need to change my main circuit breaker, but I would like to turn the power off to the entire house first. Can you usually turn the power off for a house from the outside? It's night time right now and I don't feel like going outside, otherwise I would check it... :confused:
 

MustISO

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
11,928
12
81
I can turn off the power to my house from my circuit box. The only thing hot at that point are the two big metal lugs that connect to the main power line.
 

Kalvin00

Lifer
Jan 11, 2003
12,705
4
81
Yeah, circuit box should have a switch to shut off the entire house.

Just make sure you're not wet/standing in a puddle when you're fiddling around in there ;)
 

SarcasticDwarf

Diamond Member
Jun 8, 2001
9,574
1
76
At the house I grew up in, the breaker box was outside. When I got pissed at my sister and she ocked me out, I would shut off al power to the entire house. Having only electronic phones, she could not even call out.


hehehe
 

Ime

Diamond Member
May 3, 2001
3,661
0
76
The house I'm closing on Friday has the main cut-off switch outside.
 

GtPrOjEcTX

Lifer
Jul 3, 2001
10,784
6
81
isn't this dangerous? couldn't a burgular use this to their advantage? ( just read the burgulary thread)
 

shoebabe

Junior Member
Sep 25, 2019
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isn't this dangerous? couldn't a burgular use this to their advantage? ( just read the burgulary thread)

Hi this has actually happened to me by a burglar and I'm trying to find the thread you mention but no joy any chance you could send me a link pls? TIA
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
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I know this is an old thread but given there was no answer...

No, you as the home owner can't. HOWEVER the hydro company can do it by pulling the meter head out. That will kill power to the main panel. I don't think they will do it willy nilly though, they will probably want a licensed electrician involved and/or an inspector etc. If you're just replacing a breaker you can just turn off the main though as it will de-energize the bus bar in the panel making it safe to work in there, just don't poke too far into the main part as the incoming part is still energized. You only really need to pull the meter if swapping out the panel or doing extensive work that might involve moving or otherwise requiring to completely kill power to it.

In some cases you may also have a separate cut off switch before the panel. I have that in my house which is nice as I'll be able to safely swap out my entire panel when I want without involving the hydro company. I don't think it's very common though.

Heard of people live swapping a panel but it's risky. If you know what you're doing it can be done but I personally would not chance it. It's practically electrical surgery. One slip or bad move and you got yourself a huge arc flash situation, 1,000's of amps. (whatever the upstream transformer can handle) Gonna be a shocking experience. Good news is, unlike industrial stuff, there should be something left to burry at the funeral but it will be closed casket.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
68,009
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Pull the meter

You can't just do that yourself or you will get in HUGE trouble. If you want to chance it and try to fix the tag afterwards go nuts but I would not recommend it...

If you do it make sure you turn off the power inside first to avoid any arcing. Hydro crews do it live all the time so its probably fine either way but better safe than sorry.
 

RLGL

Platinum Member
Jan 8, 2013
2,089
305
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No one will not get in trouble, I've had to do it once. As Long as there is a good explanation the utility will be good about it.
 

Arx Allemand

Member
Sep 24, 2019
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Some meter pedestal mounts have disconnect/bypass switches. Pulling the meter (of course) works. Doing either without permission of your utility is a no-no. People do it all the time and if you have common sense and are sufficiently handy you can do it and no one will know any better. ;)

The only time where you absolutely must contact the utility is if you have an underground feed and need to work on that. In most locales, this is the utility responsibility anyhow. Either the drop to the transformer has to be hotsticked OR the bugs undone if you share secondaries with a neighbor, etc.

TBH, since you're asking on an internet forum, you should probably not fool with it yourself. ;)
 
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shoebabe

Junior Member
Sep 25, 2019
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Some meter pedestal mounts have disconnect/bypass switches. Pulling the meter (of course) works.

TBH, since you're asking on an internet forum, you should probably not fool with it yourself. ;)

By pulling the meter do you mean just ripping it off the wall lol?

And I wasn't going to attempt anything just someone turned my power off a couple of weeks ago to disable my burglar alarm so I'm just interested in how they did that tbh

Sent from my JAT-L29 using Tapatalk
 

Arx Allemand

Member
Sep 24, 2019
57
24
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By pulling the meter do you mean just ripping it off the wall lol?

And I wasn't going to attempt anything just someone turned my power off a couple of weeks ago to disable my burglar alarm so I'm just interested in how they did that tbh

Sent from my JAT-L29 using Tapatalk

Most boxes have a thin easy to break seal put on by the utility. Easy to cut with some Klein dikes. Slide up the latch tab and the box cover swings open. Then the meter can be pulled from the socket pretty easily. The old glass style fit a cup plunger pretty nicely, some chose that method. With the newer "smart" meter types, just a firm hold and rocking up and down gets it loose and it can be removed. If the main is opened inside there won't be any arcing. Even so with a high load (dryer, ac, heat, etc) the arcing isn't that bad with a swift pull since AC power at secondary voltage (240 across L1/L2) extinguishes fast on its own. Slipping and getting your fingers on those exposed lugs would be the biggest risk at getting a shock you're likely to never forget!
 
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Spacehead

Lifer
Jun 2, 2002
13,201
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Hi this has actually happened to me by a burglar and I'm trying to find the thread you mention but no joy any chance you could send me a link pls? TIA
By pulling the meter do you mean just ripping it off the wall lol?

And I wasn't going to attempt anything just someone turned my power off a couple of weeks ago to disable my burglar alarm so I'm just interested in how they did that tbh
What did the police have to say? Have you asked your electric company how someone cut your electric?
House or apartment?
 
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IBMJunkman

Senior member
May 7, 2015
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I have a padlock on the breaker box. Enough to frustrate an opportunistic criminal but not the fire department.

I found out by accident the power company can turn off the power remotely. It was my 2nd house for 17 months. One day I could not view my cameras in the house from my other house. After some digging I found NV Energy had cut the power due to non-payment. I had received no email or postal mail warnings. Called the company and found I could pay by Western Union. Did that and power was on in half an hour. Don’t like the remote control they have.
 
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Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
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Wait, your entire breaker box is outside? That seems odd. How does it work for the circuits to go inside the house? I feel that would be a nightmare to seal properly or to run new circuits. That would never work here, people would turn off your power so you go outside, and then stab you, then rob your house.
 
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IBMJunkman

Senior member
May 7, 2015
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Wait, your entire breaker box is outside? That seems odd. How does it work for the circuits to go inside the house? I feel that would be a nightmare to seal properly or to run new circuits. That would never work here, people would turn off your power so you go outside, and then stab you, then rob your house.

in the USA I believe most single family houses have the breaker box on the outside. Although my last house did have an inside panel at the far end of the house which was 100’ or so from the outside panel.