Home Electrical System: Everything You Need to KnowWe’re more dependent than ever on our home electrical system. The count of electronic devices that support our 21st century lifestyle has multiplied exponentially in recent years. This fact becomes abundantly clear if even a brief power interruption occurs: a home without electricity quickly becomes almost uninhabitable. Most of what delivers and distributes power to the residence is hidden within the structure and unknown to occupants. Here’s a general overview of a typical residential home electrical system.

The Meter

Mounted on the wall outside where the power line connects to the home, the meter registers electrical consumption in kilowatt hours. Your local utility uses these figures to calculate your monthly bill. “Smart” meters today communicate directly with the utility and interface with energy management programs.

The Panel

The electrical panel incorporates circuit breakers. A main breaker controls all electricity to the house. Individual breakers serve various circuits that distribute electricity throughout the home. Most are 120-volt circuits for lights and small appliances. Big appliances such as air conditioners are on 240-volt circuits. If a short happens, or a device draws excessive amperage, the circuit breaker automatically trips and disconnects electricity to that individual circuit.

In new homes, electrical panels are typically rated for at least 200 amps. However, older houses may have panels rated as low as 100 amps or less. These are often insufficient for today’s electrical demand and may need upgrading.

The Wiring

A typical 2,000 square foot residence incorporates about 3,000 feet of wiring. Wiring “bundles” leading to outlets throughout the house are composed of at least three wires—two insulated and a single bare wire. Black or red wires are “hot” wires carrying voltage from the circuit breaker. The white wire is “neutral” and returns electricity to the main panel. The bare copper wire is a ground wire.

Wiring is subject to degrading effects of aging and wear. In older homes, aging wiring eventually requires upgrading for safety and to reliably handle increasing electrical demands.

For more information about the upkeep of your home electrical system, contact the professionals at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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