A Brief Introduction to Your Home’s Electrical System

Most of us wouldn’t know how to live without electricity. It supplies light and substance to our internet devices, building lights, microwaves, kitchen appliances, clothes dryers, hair dryers, and air conditioning units. Electricity makes it possible for us to see inside of a building without having to strain our eyes. Or without having to hold something like an oil lamp just to find our way in the dark. It has also eliminated the need for having to maintain a fire in every room just to keep the building warm in the dead of winter.

It’s also complicated and you can’t do it yourself: you need an electrician to fix your appliances and all wiring needs, or you could spend time and money undoing your own mistakes. Here are some basics about how it all works.

How Electricity is Supplied to Your Home

Electricity is generated from a central home wiring system. From this service point, it flows to the meter box where the meters, relays, and fuses are mounted. In most North American countries it is supplied in up to 120 volts, but around the world it’s as much as 230 volts.

meter box

The meter box measures the number of units of the electricity’s energy being used. Those units are abbreviated as kWh. From the meter, it is then sent to the main electric switch. This is what electricians shut off for repairs or replacements in the wiring to prevent electrical shock or electrocution.

However, it also has to have somewhere to go to complete the circuit cycle and return to the generator. The generator has a wire called “the active” for the energy to go out, and another wire, known as “the neutral,” to bring it back to the generator. Otherwise, we would have many electrical overloads, which would result in heavy static electricity and electrical shocks. It also eliminates the need to use many annoying and unsafe extension cords and adapters.

Last but not least is the fuse. The fuse is basically the safety valve for the wiring. The more appliances you have connected at one time, the harder your building’s electrical circulation system has to work. In response, the fuse allows only a certain amount of electricity to flow into the building at one time.

As a result, it melts and then “blows” if too many appliances are used at once. Similarly, there’s also short-circuiting, which occurs when a cord wears down and two wires end up touching each other. This more often occurs in buildings with loose wiring, faulty grounding, or frequent short circuits. When either of these occurs, it’s time to call an electrician.

Take Caution, Call the Experts

So now you know a little bit about how it works and when it’s time to call an electrician. In case there is still any doubt, never try to handle electrical repairs yourself, as it can lead to electrocution and a trip to the hospital. Electricians are specialists who have gone through three or four years of training plus a certification process to be qualified.

If you’re in an intrepid mood and would like to try your hand at home repairs, that’s great! But know your limits: keep it safe, and don’t be a DIY electrician.

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