ESB and Meter Tails Upgrade

What are ESB Tails?


In essence, ESB tails refer to copper wires responsible for transmitting live electrical current from a residence's power source to the Meter Board and subsequently to the Distribution Board. Despite their small size, measuring only a few millimeters, the tails play a pivotal role in facilitating the distribution of electricity to various appliances within a home

It is imperative to regularly upgrade and expand these tails, especially when a homeowner adds new appliances or infrastructure consuming electricity, such as installing an Electric Vehicle (EV) charger.

In Ireland, the Electrical Services Board (ESB) assumes the responsibility of overseeing the formulation and maintenance of the country's electricity transmission system. Meter tails play a crucial role in allowing homes access to ESB's electricity. These insulated copper wires connect the service head (electricity source) to the home's electricity meters and fuse boxes, proving indispensable for the integration of new installations like EV home chargers into the electric supply.

By establishing connections to both distribution and metering, the tails serve a dual purpose, recording electricity usage and efficiently transferring the electrical load to its intended destination. Given the important role in a home's electrical system, it is vital to be aware of potential signs indicating the need for an upgrade when utilizing meter tails.

Do meter tails require upgrading?


Typically, the primary meter tail is sized to accommodate the electrical supply of the home. However, if new additions are made to the system, an upgrade or brand-new tails may become necessary.

Failure by electricians or their contracting parties to securely and properly install the tails can lead to an increase in electric resistance, generating high levels of heat and contributing to system degradation.

Conversely, ensuring that the size of the meter tails matches the electricity consumption is crucial. If the tails are too small for the electrical load designated for distribution, a potentially hazardous system overload can occur. An increase in the number of electrical appliances on the property is a clear indicator that an upgrade of the tails is needed.

Another noteworthy sign of the need for an upgrade is a reduced electrical load. If the electrical functionalities of any appliances in the home are noticeably diminished, an upgrade is likely necessary.

The oversight of associated electrical work related to meter tail upgrades is managed by the CERT system, which ensures that any undocumented work on the system is reported to ESBN by the electrical worker’s regulating body.

How can I determine my maximum import capacity?


Maximum Import Capacity (MIC) represents the highest electrical demand that a system can accommodate. It serves as a crucial factor in determining network charges and allows ESB to establish pricing based on your specific electrical demand.

The formula for calculating MIC is as follows: MIC=(Maximum Demand0.95)×1.05.MIC=(0.95Maximum Demand​)×1.05. Here, 0.95 is the standard factor for converting Kilowatt-hours (kWh) to Kilowatt-volt amperes (kVA), and 1.05 provides a 5% margin of error.

The maximum demand level is expressed in kWh and is determined by measuring the highest electrical demand in 15-minute daily intervals. By applying the formula, you can obtain a figure that aligns with your personalized electricity needs. If excess capacity charges are frequently incurred, it may be indicative of a need to increase the demand level.

What size are meter tails?


In older Irish homes, meter tails seldom exceed a cross-sectional area of 10mm². This is due to the historical context of lower home electric demand. Consequently, the tails did not require a particularly large size.

However, in recent years, Ireland has adhered to a standard cross-sectional size of 16mm² under the National Rules for Electrical Installations. This adjustment accounts for the natural increase in electrical load demand, especially with the growing trend of Irish homeowners incorporating renewable charging infrastructure like EV charge points on their properties.

What are the benefits of an ESB tail upgrade?


As previously discussed, the decision to upgrade meter tails is often driven not only by the need to accommodate increased system demands but also by the crucial role it plays in ensuring the safety of the residents.

Aligned with Ireland's Climate Action Plan for Sustainability, ESB aims to promote the use of smart meters in homes. These meters provide homeowners with an accurate representation of energy usage, reducing the reliance on estimations. Furthermore, smart meters enable better regulation, empowering homeowners to opt for lower-cost electricity usage during specific times.

Fortunately, ESB provides a free upgrade for tails on the grid side, as they own them. This can be initiated if the homeowner confirms that the cross-sectional area of the tails is below regulation standards.

For meter tails on the home side, the homeowner needs to engage a registered electrical contractor (RECI) to assess the necessity of an upgrade. If an upgrade is deemed essential, the RECI must issue a pre-connection certificate, subject to approval from Safe Electric Ireland. Typically, a €180 service alteration fee is payable on behalf of the homeowner for such work.

How are ESB tails upgraded?


To initiate a request for tail upgrades, it is necessary to complete the process through ESB's website. Upon submission of the claim, ESB will undertake a thorough review. Progress on the system upgrade can only commence once approval for the tail upgrade has been granted.

If a tail upgrade is deemed suitable for the property, a certified ESB technician will be dispatched to the home. It is crucial to note that all ESB technicians possess a photo ID badge, providing confirmation that they are authorized representatives working on behalf of ESB Networks. During the work, the home's electricity is likely to be temporarily switched off.

What is the difference between meter tails and ESB tails?


Given that the electrical source is owned by ESB Networks, the tails extending to the distribution board also fall under their jurisdiction for maintenance, installation, and upkeep. Consequently, any issues encountered by the tails running from the source to the meter box and fuse board are the responsibility of ESB Networks.

Conversely, meter tails running from the distribution center to the home's power supplies are the homeowner's responsibility. This encompasses the maintenance or potential replacement of any tails supplying electricity to EV car chargers.

How do I upgrade my meter tails?


As previously outlined, upgrades to meter tails on the ESB supply side will be executed by one of the network's in-house technicians. In contrast, work carried out on the home side of the tail network must be conducted by a registered electrical contractor (REC) who will provide notification.

What is the maximum import capacity?


The maximum import capacity (MIC) is inherently contingent on the size and robustness of the tails in use to the overall electricity consumption of the home. Utilizing the formula outlined above, individual homeowners can ascertain the highest volume of electricity that can be efficiently channeled through the system.

As discussed, meter tails play an inconspicuous yet pivotal role in supplying electricity to your home. The process of replacing meter tails has become increasingly convenient, offering the potential for heightened capacity, enhanced freedom, and increased peace of mind within the home.


Blog Author: Adrian Dorney