Your meter box is the key to maintaining normal meter function and ensuring that your energy bills are accurate. It protects your meter from all kinds of risk factors from inclement weather to dirt, soot or moisture ingress and even accidental damage or vandalism. A meter box is typically found outside a home or commercial/industrial property. However, they can also be placed indoors in a dedicated cabinet.
There are some times, however, when it may be necessary to remove a meter box (and the meter within it) from one location on the premises to another. This may be because you are planning household renovations, extending your property, or simply want to make the meter more accessible.
Can a meter box be moved?
If you’re wondering whether or not you can move your meter box, the answer is yes… with caveats.
Consumers are legally responsible for the upkeep of their meter boxes, and can therefore legally move them. However, what complicates the matter is moving the meter within the box. It is both illegal and extremely dangerous to move your own gas or electricity meter yourself as it involves tampering with the hazardous gas or electricity supply.
Depending on how far you want to move the meter box and to where responsibility may lie with your utility supplier or your distribution network operator (DNO) (for an electricity meter) or your gas network operator for gas meters.
Before you commit to moving your electricity or gas meter, it’s a good idea to carry out a series of checks to see how viable the move would be:
- Check the type of meter box. Is it surface-mounted, flush-mounted or underground? Flush-mounted meter boxes, for instance, will leave a hole in the wall that will need to be filled
- Check the age and condition of the meter box. Older or damaged boxes may need to be replaced rather than removed
- Check out the complexity of the electrical system and connections. Relocating your meter box more than three metres from your consumer unit may add cost and complication to the project
- Assess the availability of an alternative location that meets all the necessary requirements (easy to access, attached to an exterior wall, away from extreme temperatures and excess moisture)
Factors to consider when moving a gas or electricity meter box
List and explain the main considerations that should be taken into account when planning to move a meter box, such as:
Who carries out the work?
If your meter box only needs to be moved a short distance along the same wall, your current energy supplier will likely carry out the work. For longer and more complicated moves, the responsibility may fall to your area’s DNO or gas transporter. This work is divided into contestable and non-contestable work. Contestable work may be carried out by a registered approved electrician or gas fitter, while non-contestable work can only be carried out by the DNO or gas transporter.
If you choose to use your own contractor make sure that they are a NICEIC or Gas Safe registered gas engineer to ensure that their work meets all the necessary regulations.
Permits and approvals
Depending on the scope of the work to be carried out and how much digging is required, it may be necessary to seek approval from your local planning committee or buildings department to have your gas or electricity meter moved.
You may need to seek approval from your energy supplier before your meter box can be moved, depending on your reason for wanting to move it.
Viability of new location
An inspection may be necessary to ensure that the new location is suitable for your meter box. Not only should it be in a relatively dry area, it also needs to conform to necessary regulations and codes. Your DNO and/or gas transporter will be able to advise you on this.
Condition of the box
Moving a damaged or worn meter box may be a false economy. It may be necessary to repair or upgrade your meter box before moving your meter. Likewise, you may wish to make improvements or adjustments to your electrical system such as relocating the consumer unit.
Cost of moving a meter box
Under some circumstances, your energy supplier may be able to move your meter box, and your utility meter, free of charge. This should be possible if you only wish to move the meter box 1 metre or less along the same wall. Alternatively, if you are a vulnerable person and/or struggling to access your meter, your energy supplier will also likely move your outdoor meter cabinet for you free of charge. Typically this includes:
- Adults of pension age
- The disabled
- Those suffering from long-term illnesses
- Anyone on their supplier’s Priority Services Register
If you feel you may meet the necessary criteria, you can find more information on the Citizens Advice Bureau’s website. Please note that only your existing supplier can move your meter. If you wish to switch suppliers, you should do so before considering moving your meter box.
Even if they are not able to move your meter box for free, suppliers may also move your meter a small distance along the same wall for a fairly modest fee of between £75 and £100.
Moving your meter box from inside to outside or more than a metre or so will usually be a job for your DNO or gas transporter. This will likely incur a higher cost. Depending on the property and how far you want to move your meter box, this can incur a charge anywhere from around £400 to over £1,000. If you also need to move your consumer unit to better accommodate the move, this will likely cost an additional £600-£800.
If additional planning permissions, inspections, disconnections and reconnections are necessitated by the move, this may also add several hundred pounds to the cost.
Alternative options to moving a meter box
It’s clear to see that moving a meter box can be an expensive proposition if you want to move it a long distance. If you want to protect your meter but baulk at the potential costs, there are a number of alternatives that may prove more cost-effective and less disruptive:
- Installing a new meter box at the desired location- In some cases, suppliers may be able to install a new meter box in the desired location and decommission the existing meter. This may be cheaper than moving an existing meter box
- Upgrading or repairing the existing meter box- You may be able to provide better accessibility and protection for your existing meter by upgrading or repairing the meter box around it
- Modifying the electrical system to accommodate the existing meter box- In some cases, it may be cheaper and more convenient to move other elements of the property’s electrical system such as the consumer unit instead of moving the meter box
Is it worth moving my meter box?
That’s a decision that only you can make. Hopefully, however, this post has helped you to make a better-informed decision on moving your meter box by exploring the work that may be necessary, who will likely undertake that work, how much you can expect to pay, and what the alternatives may be.
You can establish a strong foundation for a successful and cost-effective move by:
- Establishing a clear idea of how far the meter needs to be moved
- Finding out who will need to carry out the work
- Shopping around for a reliable and affordable contractor to carry out contested work
- Checking with your DNO, gas transporter and local council what planning permissions and approvals (if any) need to be obtained prior to work commencing