External Meter Box Buying Guide

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External Meter Box Buying Guide

Posted 13.02.2024

Our meter box repairs are made to be as simple and straightforward as possible, but even knowing what repair you need can be difficult. Our troubleshooting guide can help you find the right repair, especially if it’s something smaller.

But what about when your only option is a brand-new box? Realising that is only one step, you still need to know which meter box you need.

We’re proud to say we can support you with every single stage of repairing your meter box – and that includes finding the meter box that meets your needs.

In this guide, we’ll answer all the common questions people have about picking a new meter box. We’ll also explore all the options from what type of box you’ll need, to what material you should choose so that you get the right box for you.

How to tell if your meter box needs replacing

Before you start looking for a new meter box, you need to decide if a whole new over box is actually necessary, as there are a range of cheaper repairs available.

However, if your whole meter box is looking very tired, if your metal meter box has rust spots or your plastic box has large cracks or missing pieces, a new box is probably your best option.

What are the four types of meter boxes?

When it comes to external meter boxes, there are four main types:

Recessed (or built-in meter boxes): Recessed slightly into the brickwork of the building, these are common in older homes.

Surface mounted: The backplate of these boxes sits on the surface of the wall, meaning they sit entirely on top of the wall. They are relatively common across a variety of homes though they do tend to be seen more with gas meters than electric ones.

Ground/semi-buried meter boxes: Commonly used for gas and water meters, underground meter boxes are embedded in the ground rather than wall-mounted. They can be either semi-submersible or fully submersible.

Freestanding: Completely set apart from the main building, this type of meter box is usually used for commercial buildings rather than residential.

What type of meter box do I need?

Most UK homes will have either recessed or surface-mounted meter boxes fixed to an exterior wall of their home. Obviously, there are exceptions to this but in general, you’ll be looking for one of these.

The easiest way to tell whether you need a surface-mounted or recessed meter box is to open your old meter box door and take a look inside. If the back of the meter box is flat against the wall, and the meter box sits entirely on top of the wall, it’s surface mounted. If the back of the box sits further back than the wall, it’s a recessed box.

If you have a recessed meter box, the easiest way to repair it is by fitting a new over box, that covers the whole box. If you try to remove the whole box to replace it, you’ll need to remove the energy meter first – and that is illegal. When you fit an over box, all you need to remove is the door of the old box which is a much safer and easier step.

Is a plastic or a metal meter box better?

When it comes to picking the material for your meter box, it’s usually down to preference. Cost, ease of fitting and the lifespan of your new box will all be affected by the material you choose so it’s about what suits you better.

A high-quality metal meter box is incredibly robust so it should have a long lifespan – though it is at risk of rust if the paintwork gets damaged. The downside of metal boxes is that they will cost more, but the longer lifespan will offset that for many people.

A plastic meter box might not last quite as long but it will be a lot cheaper to buy upfront. There is no risk of rust, but they could split or crack under intense force. However, being more lightweight, they may be easier to fit (depending on your strength and skill level) so that is another benefit to consider.

Is there a difference between a gas meter box and an electric meter box?

There is one subtle difference between electric meter boxes and gas ones. Gas meter boxes have vents in them, often in the door or the edges of the box. This is to protect your home in case of a leak – the vents let air in and out, meaning less gas will build up inside your meter box. As leaking gas will also have a smell, it makes it likely you’ll notice the leak quicker so you can get it fixed.

In comparison, most electric meter boxes don’t have vents in them. This is to stop moisture from getting inside the box which can damage your meter.

When you are looking to replace a broken meter box, you should order one that suits the energy meter it is covering. Some meter boxes, like our plastic over boxes, are suitable for use on both gas and electric meters – but they are specifically designed this way.

Can I replace the box on my water meter?

If you have a wall-mounted water meter box, you can also install a new over box if your old meter box starts to look old or tatty.

Water meters tend to be smaller than an electric or gas meter box, so getting a box designed specifically for water meters is a good idea. The process to fit them is usually the same as any other over box, but check the specifics of your new box before you order to be sure.

Are all meter boxes a standard size?

While many meter boxes are similar in size, not all will have the exact same dimensions.

To make sure you get the right meter box, it is important to measure up before you order and check your new one will fit. In the case of an over box, you will need one that is big enough to sit comfortably over your old one, so factor this into your measurements.

Do I need a meter box with a fire rating?

In most cases, an external meter box doesn’t have to be fire-rated, though there are some exceptions. Some people also just prefer the peace of mind that a fire rating brings. If you’re unsure whether you need one or not, our blog post on fire-rated meter boxes offers more support.

Is a new meter box expensive?

Replacing your meter box won’t break the bank, but the exact cost will depend on a lot of factors. So many factors in fact, that we’ve got a whole blog that explains how much a meter box costs, that breaks down everything you need to know to help you get a clearer idea.

How do I get a new meter box?

If your meter box starts to fail, you are legally responsible for replacing your meter box. Luckily, it is incredibly easy to find, order and fit all of our products, including our plastic meter boxes and our metal meter boxes. Our boxes are dispatched from the UK with rapid delivery times ensuring the process is as easy as possible.

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