How does my home’s electrical system work?

A lot of homeowners—even people who have lived in their homes for quite a while—aren’t completely certain about the jobs of every element of their home’s electrical system.

While that’s perfectly okay, it’s normal for homeowners to want to know about the different parts of their system if it’s being worked on. Here’s an overview of the elements that make up the electrical systems in most homes.

Service entrance

All electrical power will come into your home either through an overhead or underground electrical service.

  • Overhead service: This is the type you can see, with visible overhead power lines. It’s less common in urban and suburban areas because it’s prone to damage from wind and ice storms.
  • Underground service: This is more common in the Edmond and Oklahoma City areas we service. The electrical service runs underground from a transformer to your electrical meter.

Electrical meter

This is the device your utility company uses to measure how much electricity you consume. Whether it’s a Smart meter or a manual one that someone reads each month, this device is responsible for the electric bill you receive every month.

Breaker box

The heart of your home’s electrical system resides in a seemingly innocuous metal box, likely somewhere in your garage or the exterior wall of your home near the electrical meter. Whether you call it a breaker box, electrical panel, service panel, or some other name–this metal box is ultimately responsible for getting power to your home.

What you typically see from your breaker box is the outer cover and circuit breakers themselves. Hopefully yours is labeled as well, indicating what each circuit actually powers within the home.

Electrical circuits

If the breaker box is the heart of the electrical system, the electrical circuits serve as the veins
that carry the electricity throughout your home. These circuits run in two main varieties: lighting and power outlets.

Electrical circuits all have a set capacity of how much power they can deliver. If this capacity is exceeded, the circuit breaker will trip, cutting off the flow of electricity. This is a safety device to prevent fires from overloaded circuits.

The power supply for your home comes into your breaker box from the electrical meter, which is often close to the breaker box, especially on the newer homes we service. The breaker box is where the power supply is distributed throughout the home. Electrical circuits make sure that the energy gets to where it needs to go, and the breaker box cuts off electricity, if needed, to prevent a fire.

If you have more questions about your home’s electrical system, or are worried that it isn’t functioning properly, let’s have a conversation.

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