Basic Home Wiring

This post explains some of the terminology and concepts of basic home wiring.  This will help homeowners discuss issues with an electrician and understand the problems found.Pliers pinching a wire

Key Components of Basic Home Wiring

  1. The Service Head or the Weather Head is the entry point for utility company overhead wires running from the power pole to the house.   The cap will be pointed downward to keep the rain out and the wires will be looped so that water can drip away.   The wires bring 240-volt power into your home.
  2. The Electric Meter is a glass-encased set of dials that belongs to the utility company.  It functions as a measurement tool so that the utility knows how much power you have used each month.   The standard for billing you is KWH, kilowatt-hours, or 1,000 watt-hours.
  3. The Service Panel, also called Breaker Box or Fuse Box, is the control panel and central distribution center for the power.   It contains the main disconnect and the central grounding connection.   Wires branch out from this box in a number of circuits, but each branch starts with a breaker or fuse in this box which protects it from overloading and overheating.  Different amperage sizes of breakers/fuses and different sizes of wire in the circuits allow more power to flow for some appliances, such as an electric range or electric dryer, and less for others.
  4. A Sub-panel is a smaller breaker box that is located somewhere else in the home and is used for a specific purpose.  Two common examples are to locate sub-panels near the HVAC system, or in the garage or workshop.  This allows that circuit of wiring to be easily disconnected for maintenance work without having to go all the way to the main service panel.
  5. The wire for each circuit goes out to Junction Boxes (for further branching out) or to Electrical Boxes.  Builders use various types and sizes of electrical boxes for switches, outlets, lighting fixtures, and ceiling fans.  Each box must be attached properly to wooden framing so it is strong enough for the desired usage, such as the weight and movement of a ceiling fan.
  6. Grounding is a preventative measure added to all new buildings for our safety.   Each circuit should be connected to the earth (ground) for the rapid dissipation of electrical power if it is touched.  During normal operation, grounding does nothing but if any of the metal parts are touched the ground immediately takes over and keeps you from being electrocuted.  Some older homes still contain non-grounded outlets, but they should be upgraded for safety.
  7. Many homes contain low voltage wirings, such as the doorbell, telephone lines, or the intercom system.  These wires are much less dangerous for homeowners to work on themselves because they usually carry between 6 and 24 volts, much less than the 120 or 240 volts in other circuits.   The wires are also very fine and can break or get damaged easily.

If you have any questions about your basic home wiring or electrical appliances, the professional electricians at Frye Electric will be glad to help.   Just give us a call and we will be glad to give you expert advice to help you understand the issue or problem you see.   With over 40 years of service to this community, Frye Electric is a trusted business partner for both residential and commercial electrical needs.

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