Most people turn switches off and on and expect the miracle of electricity to happen without giving it much thought. But there is a sophisticated system behind the process of bringing electricity into your home and that is what we will discuss in this blog.
The system of home electrical service begins with the lines either strung from power poles or buried underground and the accompanying equipment that is placed strategically outside your home. Where the power enters your home is called the ‘service entrance’.
Power comes through an electric meter. This is how the electric company keeps track of how much you use each month and from which your bill is calculated. Generally speaking, you have three wires that provide your service. Two are cables that carry 120 volts apiece. The third cable is a ‘ground wire’.
The electric meter is usually located on an exterior wall of the home but may also be found within the breaker box itself. It measures the electricity that is used by the homeowners. Electric usage is measured in terms of kilowatt hours (kWh). An easy way to understand this is that a 100-watt light bulb burning for ten hours uses 1 kWh of electricity. While meters have been analog for the most part, more of them are being replaced by digital meters which provide a more accurate usage reading.
Of course, once the electricity enters the home it does not stay in one place! It has to be distributed through circuits across the entire area (indoors and out). To prevent an electric overload, each circuit comes with a breaker that can shut down the power. You are able to shut off the electricity that leaves the breaker to the various household circuits but not the electricity coming into the home itself.
Electric boxes in the home may be plastic or metal. It is from here that the wires and other devices, such as switches, outlets and more will be connected. All metal electrical boxes must be grounded while plastic boxes are non-conductive and do not need grounding.