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Just got a bill from my electrician and I wanted to question an item on the bill: 2.5 hrs to install a meter pan (socket). I don't think it takes this long to perform this tasks. Should I talk to him about this?

I am usually hesitant to second-guess someone else's time to perform a task, as it's hard to make a determination without personally being there.
As to the time needed to install a meter socket, it depends on many factors: was the electrician replacing an existing (working) one with another one? In that case, he may have had to do the work 'hot', which is very tricky and time-consuming; or he may have needed to get a work order approved by the utility beforehand to disconnect and reconnect the service, which also takes time. Additionally, was only the meter socket replaced? Usually there are other accessory parts, cables, etc. that must be changed out at the same time, since any new work must be done to the most recent Code requirements.

If I were you, speak with him anyway. If the bill is on the level, I'm sure he'd have no problem going over everything with you - I know I'd rather have the opportunity to explain an invoice that's perceived to be high, as opposed to having an unhappy customer.

My electrician in South Carolina has a business card, which says "Licensed & Insured" yet when I asked him his license # he refused to provide it. What reason would there be for him to not provide it to me? Is a copy of a license too dangerous to provide to your customer?

If he is unwilling to present you with his license number, he most likely doesn't have one. I can't think of any other reason not to provide this information. License #'s are usually a matter of public record; for instance, we have all of ours posted on our website. Also, most municipalities require the contractor’s license number before issuing a building permit.

I need to purchase a book to study to take a licensing exam. What’s the difference between the 2011 National Electrical Code and the 2011 National Electrical Code Handbook (besides the BIG difference in price)? Also, which would you recommend?

I recommend both!
You need the Code book for sure. You'll find that most tests will ask you to fill in the blanks from relevant Code topics (this tests to see if you know where in the Code to find a relevant topic quickly). Besides, if you are serious about your career you'll find it to be indispensable. I reference mine all the time and I've been doing this since 1988.
The Handbook is helpful because it will explain why certain things are in the Code- it goes more in depth.

Wurtsboro Electric Service, Inc.

Licensed electricians serving Orange county, Sullivan county, and Ulster county in New York
(845) 888-8000 

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