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Understanding Electric Meters: Operation, Theft, and Safety

Electric Meters, Electricity is vital in our homes for keeping lights on, refrigerating food, etc. The amount of electric energy used by home, tenant space, and electrically is called “an electric meter.” They are in the form of billing units.

To learn more about the appliance, how it works, its benefits, and other details, ensure you stick with us to the end.

How Does Electric Meter Work? 

Electric Meters

To establish the electricity consumed in your home monthly, having a problem with your electrical meter, among others. But first, it is essential to understand how the machine operates.

An electric meter comprises several parts that work together to offer a safe and continuous power source.

The main line is the electricity source which permits the meter to take power when necessary. Another option is “cut out,” whose purpose is to offer safety when there is an overload. The fuse in the ” cut out” blows, breaking the electricity supply into the property hence controlling the possibility of closure.

The meter’s left side is considered the “live side.” Apart from the cut-out, two wires run into the meter in a sequence of live, neutral, and neutral live, with the life wires being brown and neutral blue to keep you safe!

Electricity flows from the right side of the meter into an isolation switch or your home to power your appliances.

Make sure the meter is of quality standard and will accurately record your consumption.

What Is Electricity Theft?

Electricity theft is in many ways, but the outcome is the same. Any interference with your meter or an incoming electric supply is known as “electricity theft,” causing energy consumption to be less than what it is or bypassing the meter without registering any usage.

It may seem like an easy and innocent crime but is this so?

Electricity theft has huge risks to anyone living or working near the damaged meter, such as electric shocks, vital burns, and fire. This situation can be dangerous to your family and those within your household, including neighbors.

Are There Penalties For Cutting Lock Off Electric Meter?

To turn off the lock on the electricity meter is not a good idea for safety purposes. Yet still, it comes with penalties which range from a simple replacement to severe penalties depending on your location area.

But what are some of these penalties? 


Expect to pay a fine of between $150 -$ 3500 per residence and the severity of your charge. Most meter seal messing fines and fees range from $150 to $ 500. Therefore, it is best to read the penalty on your local area’s website or search it on your electric provider’s website.

Electric Meters utility company files a complaint, expect weightier fines and criminal accusations with repetitive offenders getting prosecuted for such crimes.

Conditions after Cutting off the Seal

The consequences of unlocking the meter depend highly on local laws, your service provider, residence area, and sometimes mere luck. We have done a summary of penalties that you may face if you cut the meter lock:

  • The most common penalty is paying for a new lock with a service charge always accompanying it. Filing charges involves a substantial amount of paperwork, making most people reluctant.

However, they will ask for their money back. A regular lock costs between $20 -$ 30, although you will have to add some installation fees which don’t exceed $ 150.

  • You may pay a fine in many areas with the acceptable amount based on the damage done regardless of being charged with a crime or other related factors.
  • You may also be charged with a misdemeanor by the municipality and service providers. You can only do it if you suspect you were messing with the meter or electric grid to reduce your bills.

Legally Are Allowed To Cut The Lock-Off Electric Meter?

Electric Meters

Absolutely yes, in cases of repair or something else that compels you to cut the seal. Nevertheless, it would help if you did it right by following these:

  • Call your local service provider to see whether they can arrange a meter lock cutting consultation. If they can’t offer an appointment, request a go-ahead to cut it to gain access to your meter for repairs.
  • Get a license before you cut the meter seal. Check with your municipality and power companies to know their procedures for obtaining a meter’s lock cut permit.
  • More details are on your local government’s or company’s websites.
  • Finally, proceed and cut the seal once you’ve obtained the permit, as this is a sure way of not breaking any laws while doing your electrical repairs.

How to Remove Electric Meter Seal?

Electric meter locks to secure your electrical meter from being interfered with, like changing the readouts or cutting off the connection. The locks are significant to guarantee safety as the meters are a source of high electricity voltage.

Does this mean you cannot remove them? No, they can, but you must adhere to the correct procedure. 

Electric Meter Lock Removal Method

The readings of electricity meters help calculate the electricity bills without any difficulty. There is a high voltage flowing through these meters. Thus, they must remain under lock for safety purposes.

Using Screws

Take a 2-inch drywall screw and put it down the barrel lock to fit perfectly into the plunger, and after latching the screws onto the plunger, pull it out with force though not wholly.

Call Your Power Company

Before experimenting and trying to open the lock by yourself, contact your local power electric provider. Contact details are available on Google.

Remove Electric Power

Although the meter’s housing is small, electric meters houses vast amounts of electricity; thus, it is paramount to be cautious as you unlock the electric meter, turning off all your electronics in your house.

Turn off your main switch from the electrical panel before proceeding to unlock the electric meter and keep the generator on standby in case of a power cut-off for a longer duration.

Disconnect High-Voltage Feed

The step is crucial to get rid of all the electric power supply. Ensure you put on thick rubber gloves and rubber slippers as you do this.

Cut the thin security tag wire holding the meter base closed and get a new tag and number with replacement from the power company after this step.

Open the meter base box.

Electric Meters step is final; with both hands, grab the meter box, pull it out towards you, and let the technician from the power company assess any damage.

Therefore, cutting the electric meter lock can be very dangerous. The penalty for tampering or removing the lock without getting the correct permit depends on the location. Electric Meters is best to consult to avoid dealing with problems with the law.