Putting sense before service breaker?

Hello,
I recently purchases solar and my company didn’t supply me with the meter that shows usage and production. I saw sense has that ability.
The problem I have is, the solar only comes into the panel attached to my service outside and doesn’t come into the houses main breaker. I also have a couple electric cars and the breaker for that is before the main feed to my house.
So in order to read my usage and production accurately, I’d need to install the sense where the service comes into my main breaker on the side of my house and the solar portion as well. I tried doing it yesterday and it worked, but the panel was too small for the sense device and I wouldn’t be able to close my main breaker box. Is is possible to open the service side and put the clamps around there? Has anyone done that? I’m guessing I’d have to talk to the power company to see if they would allow that. I think if I could do that, I could put the sense in a different part of the breaker box.

Thanks in advance!

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Several of us have opened the service side of our meter and placed our main CTs on the pre-meter mains. In my case, there was no way to do it inside my entry point breaker box since it uses a big metal buss to fan out to two sub-panels immediately after leaving the meter. I didn’t take to the power company (PG&E) but other people have. Some get pushback, but most who are assertive and keep pushing eventually get the OK or even have the utility person come out to install.

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Thanks for the reply. I’ll take a look at doing it this way. I know there is a tamper tag on the power companies side. Do you think I’d get in trouble if I cut it to work on that side? Maybe I’ll call them to be safe. My power company is ran by the city and they’re pretty amiable.

Call them and tell them you need to kill the power to do some work in your panel box. Then you come up with this other idea to pu Sense in the meter box. All in the name of safety… My 2 cents… Gerry

I helped my brother install his SENSE unit. We had to place the CT clamps prior to the meter for it to work for him. His meter was on the outside wall and the breaker panel was on the inside wall. There was enough space to feed the SENSE CT wires through the existing conduit so that the SENSE monitor could be installed inside his breaker panel.

If you don’t feel safe doing this yourself, then hire an electrician! Those wires will be live and dangerous. If you need an additional extension cable, then you can order those thru the SENSE website. Sorry I didn’t take any pictures, but @kevin1 has posted examples of his setup.

Make certain the CT clamps are centered on the wires and the clamps taped shut. You want a perfect job so you don’t have to access that connection in the future.

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The conduit from my meter to my panel was allowing a lot of cold air to come in the house. I agree with @gcrawford.k8ger as that was the only way I could get a technician to come to the house. I made sure they put in the work order not to kill the power until talking to me first because all I wanted to really do was use spray foam to fill the conduit which the tech ended up helping me with.

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Not to go off course, but I had a similar/worse situation.

When I removed the front panel to install my Sense, I found quite a bit of corrosion on the bottom. It turned out that when the house was built (17 years ago), it was not ‘code’ to seal around the electrical installation. In fact, few years back we had a severe snow storm, and snow seeped into the basement, via the open/gaping holes, and flipped the top breakers (bedrooms). I had to have the panel box completely replaced, and all gaps sealed with expanding foam. It was a more expensive job than I had anticipated, but now at least I have a new panel.

If anything at all, installing Sense makes one aware of all the crpp job contractors do when building houses, whether following code or not.

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Thanks for all the replies. I was able to get access to the service side of the panel to install the clamps and keep the sense in there. Right now if my solar generates more than I’m needing and doesn’t pull any power from the grid, sense is showing that I’m not using any and my solar is feeding entirely to the grid which is wrong. I see in the sense app that my solar is producing say 3,000 watts of energy, but the mains show a combined negative of about 2,200. So I know that my house is actually using 800 watts and feeding 2,200 back to the grid. I’m guessing it’ll take a while for the sense to make those calculations?

Right now it says it’s 50% complete with verifying the install and to wait a few hours, but it’s been over 18 hours now. If it doesn’t fix itself by Monday I’ll have to send Sense a message to ask them about it.

I forget what things look like prior to completion of setup, but once you get beyond setup, your Total Consumption will reflect continuously reflect actual consumption, which can never be negative. I suspect that Sense support will need to step in given the length of time in setup. Support will likely be alerted already come Monday.

Just a reminder - any time you open your breaker panel or meter box and make a change:

Take pictures. You need them for future reference and possibly for SENSE Support team members. Take multiple photos from every angle. It’s easier to explain your setup with a photo.

Also other members on this forum may have the same issue and will want to know how you solved it. Pictures always help!

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