Certified Electrician in Westchester passes on some Electrical Basics 101
We depend on electricity to light our homes, turn on our television sets, and even cook our meals. When the power goes out because of a storm, a short circuit, or another problem in the electrical circuit, understanding what the basic components of an electrical system is a must.
Your homes’ electricity starts with the electrical service connection. This is where the electric company connects their wires to your homes’ feeder wires that attach to the meter on your home or power pole. This is the device that measures the amount of electricity your home uses and determines the amount of money the electric company charges you on a monthly basis.
From here your meter either feeds a disconnect switch or a main breaker or fuse panel. A typical home has a single phase service consisting of an “A” phase and a “B” phase, a neutral and a ground wire.
A disconnect switch is mounted on the outside of your home close in proximity to the meter on the outside of your home or power pole. The advantage of having a disconnect switch is for safety. In the event of a fire or flash flood, you can shut the power off from the outside of your home verses having to enter a burning home or a flooded basement.
The other instance is having a transfer switch in which you can switch between live power and a generator for backup power.
A breaker panel consists of a main breaker that is sized according to your homes’ load needs. It is used to turn the power on and off to the entire electrical panel. Typically, homes have a 100 amp or a 200 amp service.
A main breaker of 100 amps will only allow 100 amps to flow through it without tripping. In a tripped state, no current will flow throughout the panel. It is the interrupt between the service and the branch circuits of the panel.
This main breaker protects the main service wires from damages that would occur given an overload. In that case, the wires would heat up and eventually could cause a fire.
Breakers that feed lighting, outlets, central air conditioning and sub-panels are considered branch circuits. These circuits can either be 120 volts or 240 volts.
The 120 volt circuits require a single pole breaker, using only one phase of the electrical service. These circuits provide power to lighting, outlets and furnaces. The breakers are usually sized at 15 or 20 amps.
In a 240 volt circuit, a two-pole breaker uses both phases of a circuit. Examples of 240 volt appliances would be an electric range, an electric stove or central air conditioning.
These appliances don’t work unless both “A” and “B” phases are working. Most of these examples would require a two-pole 30 amp breaker.
Remember to size your breaker by the name plate rating on the device you are connecting to.
Switches are the devices that turn on and off lights and fans in your home. These switches come in many different styles and colors to suit your design needs. There are single-pole, three-way, four-way and dimmer switches. Their purpose is to alter the flow of current to your lights and fans in a home.
Electrical outlets are used to plug portable devices into. Televisions, lights, computers, freezers, vacuums and toasters are all good examples of devices that can be plugged into an outlet.
Outlets consist of a hot feed, a neutral and a ground. Some outlets are used especially for wet areas.
Your home’s wiring consists of romex, BX cable or wiring concealed in conduit. Romex is a brand name for a type of plastic insulated wire. The formal name is NM that means non-metallic sheath. This is suitable for use in dry, protected areas (inside stud walls, on the sides of joists, etc.), that are not subject to mechanical damage or excessive heat.
Bx cable is known as armored cable. Wires are covered by aluminum or steel flexible sheath that is somewhat resistant to damage.
Single strands of conductor wire are pulled through conduit that is the safest method for wiring for durability purposes.
These different types of wiring carry electrical current from the panel to the device being fed. Wiring is sized according to the load demand required. Check the rated required load requirements marked on each device to determine the needed size wire to carry the needed load.
Effective Electric has been serving Westchester for over two decades, we are a fully licensed electrical contracting firm designed to meet all your wiring needs. Call Today for a free estimate! 914-737-2651