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What Makes Up Your Home’s Electrical System?

on October 16, 2015

Most of us only recognize electricity as that utility that
costs so much each month or is pulled from an outlet when we charge our
devices.  But there’s more to your home’s
electrical system than just charging a phone or your bank account.  At Mainstream Electric, we know how it works,
but we’d like you to know as well, that way you can identify where a problem
might be so that you know when you need to call for a service or fix it

From Power Lines to Devices

Electric Meter – The
electrical meter measures how much electricity is flowing into a home.  This measurement is used by utility companies
to record how much energy is used by a home.
These meters use mechanical components with a spinning wheel and
mechanical numbers to display how much energy is used each month.  Unfortunately, these meters are designed to
work in a single direction only.  With
home solar panels and other energy sources, electrical energy doesn’t just flow
into a home.  That’s why newer digital
meters are capable of tracking energy flow both into and out of a home.

The electric meter is the first point of contact between a
home and the main power line outside.  It
is the initial entry point for the home.

Breaker Panel – The
main breaker (older homes use a fuse box) separates your home into separate
electrical circuits.  The main breaker
panel functions as a safety failsafe for your home.  Each breaker in the panel box can support a
certain amount of load on the circuit (an average home supports 200 Amps at the
main breaker).  Every circuit on your
home is tied to the main breaker, but each circuit also has an individual
breaker with a current rating.

You can
check these individual ratings by looking at the inside panel of your breaker

When a single circuit uses more power than the circuit can
handle, the breaker trips.  The circuit,
and everything on it, is immediately shut down to prevent any damage to your
home or powered devices.  When a breaker
trips, it could be due to an energy spike, or it may be that you have too many
high-current devices on that circuit.  If
the breaker keeps tripping, try moving some of your appliances to a different
circuit.  Otherwise, you should consider
getting a new circuit installed or having your internal wiring upgraded to
account for higher loads.

Older houses used replaceable fuse boxes.  Fuses are weak-link connection points that
are designed to burn out before anything else on a circuit.  When a fuse burns out, you should make sure
the problem is fixed before installing a new fuse.  Always replace the fuse with the same
amperage rating.

Home Circuits – Internal
wiring leads from your breaker box to every single appliance, fixture, and
outlet in your home.  These wires and
their branches are the circuits described on the inside of your breaker
box.  Standard home wiring consists of a
hot, neutral, and ground wire.  The hot
wire is usually black, though it can also be red, and runs from the high
potential voltage side of your break box (the side with active current) to your
switches and outlets.  Whenever you plug
in a device or flip a light switch, you connect this hot connection to the
neutral connection, completing the circuit and establishing current flow.  

Since a circuit is completed
whenever the hot lead connects to a neutral or ground side, any short can
become dangerous.  A third wire, the
uninsulated copper ground wire, connects every part of the metal frame back to
the breaker box.  With this ground wire,
any short becomes an immediate trip, shutting off the circuit for the sake of

your side of the meter to the outlet and anything in between, Mainstream
Electric has you covered for any and all electrical repairs and
installations.  Whether you need a new
circuit installed to account for hire loads, or simply need a few outlets
replaced, call Mainstream Electric at 866-411-ZAPP
) for professional electrical inspections and repairs!

For more
electrical safety information, read our other blogs on the topic:

Smart! Call the Company with Heart! 866-411-ZAPP

For more
information on home and business electrical inspections, visit Mainstream Electric online

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