How A Home Electrical System Works

Without noticing or paying much attention, we constantly use electricity, even for the simplest tasks.

Therefore, it only seems natural to ensure that the electrical wirings and connections are in good condition to prevent accidents. But how many people take electrical safety seriously or even know how an electrical system works?

It’s time to light the bulbs of knowledge and shine them on all those who are ignorant. Pardon our flowery speech, but the bottom line is that you should know at least the basics of an electrical system. And that’s where today’s guide comes in handy.


How A Home Electrical System Works


Why Is It Important?

Before we tell you how an electric system works, you might wonder why it is important to know? It’s no rocket science that all the appliances in your home are connected to electrical wires and complex circuits. So, wouldn’t it be better to know how the entire system functions to stay one step ahead during emergencies?

If you think in the affirmative, keep reading the rest of the guide to know which wires connect to lights, heating systems, air purifiers, televisions, circuit boards, and other appliances.


1. How Does Electricity Reach Your Home?

The electric supply company sends electricity to your home through wires in underground conduits or via an overhead power line. You’ll find that most homes consist of three wires – a neutral wire and two hot wires.

One hot wire in combination with a neutral wire helps power 120V appliances and light fixtures. But together, all three wires deliver enough electricity to power a 230V circuit, suitable for heavy-duty appliances like electric furnaces and air conditioners.


2. Service Conduit And Main Panel

The conductors in the power supply lines are connected to the service entrance panel and electric meter by installing service conduits. A power supply company is responsible for maintaining and monitoring the electric meter to ensure everything is in order.

Also, to create a central distribution point to power your home, they place the main panel either under the electric meter or next to it. From this point forward, various circuits connect to lights, appliances, receptacles, etc., for uninterrupted supply.


3. What Is A Circuit? 

In simple terms, a circular path that carries electricity is a circuit that begins and ends at the same power source. While traversing the path, it powers all the devices and appliances connected to the circuit, so any interruption will break the circuit to cut the power.

Every circuit has three wires: active, neutral, and earth. The active wire is coded in brown and runs from the main panel to power lights and other appliances, while the neutral blue wire connects to the main panel. This helps complete the circuit, so what’s the purpose of the earth wire?

The grounding wire (green and yellow stripes) travels from the main panel and goes below the earth to divert current from short-circuiting wires to prevent electric shocks. 


4. Subpanels

There may be areas in the house where you have several branch circuits or electrical appliances, and you’ll need subpanels in such a scenario. They are especially found in rooms like the kitchen or laundry and are connected to the main panel through their system of secondary circuit breakers.


5. Low-Voltage Systems

As is evident in the name, low-voltage electrical systems help reduce electric supply in a circuit that connects to indoor and outdoor lighting, doorbells, sprinklers, and intercoms. In some cases, a transformer can lower the electricity output from 120V, which makes low-voltage systems much safer for homeowners compared to regular voltage wiring.


6. Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers keep you safe when excess electricity flows through the wires by tripping the circuit. When there’s an overload or other electrical issues, breakers can prevent accidents like fires. You’ll find that each breaker has a rating, which is the amount of power a circuit can carry.

If the local company has installed the service panel properly, you’ll find just enough room to access the fuses and breakers. This is because the wire connections and bus bars are enclosed in a protective panel, which should be handled only by a licensed electrician.


Home Safety Tips

We have given you an overview of a home electrical system, so now let’s look at some home safety tips.


A. Maintenance

Irrespective of how many fire alarms or extinguishers you keep in the house, nothing beats the importance of regular maintenance. Instead of waiting for a problem to occur before calling an electrician, hiring a professional company for a regular checkup would be best. 

Ideally, you should get the circuits and appliances checked twice a year; at other times, you can conduct standard checks without supervision.


B. Keep The Surroundings Dry

Water and electricity don’t mix, and unless you’re in the mood for fireworks, it will help if you keep the area around wires and circuit boards clean. Make sure none of the wires is touching the ground in the bathroom or kitchen, where chances of water spills are high. And never operate appliances or touch a switch with wet hands.


C. Replace Damaged Wires

If you notice that some of the wires are fraying or wearing out, replace them ASAP. Damaged wires pose a serious risk to your family’s safety and could lead to sparking. A common giveaway is when you feel a slight shock or warmth when touching a switch or a circuit board.


Final Words

Do you now have a better idea about how home electrical systems work to keep the wires and circuits in good condition?

If there’s any confusion, don’t hesitate to read our guide again and consult a professional during an emergency. Never take chances with an electrical system, so always have the number of a licensed electrician close at hand. 

It would also be best to train the family in fire safety drills, even attaching a copy of the dos and don’ts where everyone can see. And just as you replace old and damaged wires, exchange worn-out appliances to prevent accidents.

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