An electrical system is to a building what a nervous system is to the body. It is like the center of all operations in a building. It contains a network of conductors and equipment whose main duty is to carry, distribute and convert electrical current from the point of generation to various destinations in the building that require electricity to function.
The electrical system distributes power to different parts of a given building for controls and communications. It is made up of a transformer, power distribution panels, light fixtures, telecommunications as well as security equipment. The components of an electrical system is divided in 4 categories
i. Power Supply, which includes transformers and generators.
ii. A distribution which consists of switchgear, panel boards, and lighting protection
iii. Lighting which has both interior and exterior lighting fixtures
iv. Data and Security which has telecommunications and security
Everyday we use electricity to light up our spaces and to cook or wash. All we have to do is turn on a switch and we have a supply of electric power. But how exactly does this electricity get there? To have a constant supply of electricity, there must always be a complete circuit. A complete circuit is a path through which electricity can flow. It must include a source (source of electricity) and components that are being powered for instance a bulb. Usually, electricity flows from of the two 120-volt wires and backs out through a grounded neutral wire; that makes a complete circuit. If there is any fault in the wire from either of these points, then the flow of current will be interrupted.
Component One: Service Entrance
The electricity that you use in your home comes in through the service entrance. This is where the company that supplies electricity has overhead lines that feed the transformer. From the transformer, the current is changed into the voltage that feeds your home before it travels to the weather head, a conduit attached to your home’s meter box. This is usually attached using anchor bolts and straps to support the weight of the pipe and wire. The current from the utility company through the transformer and into your meter box is always live so in case of any faults with the current, do not attempt to fix it on your own. Always call the relevant authorities.
Component Two: Electric Metre
The electric meter that is attached to your home is a measuring device that is used to measure the current in watts. It is used by companies to track the amount of energy you have used in your home and to bill you at the end of every month’s consumption. Electric meters come in 2 categories; the old model that has numbered dials and a meter reader would always be sent to read the consumption rate, and the modern state of the art category is where your bill can be read right from the electricity company’s office.
Component Three: Safety Switch
From the meter, the connection goes straight to a weatherproof disconnect, or rather a safety switch which allows a homeowner to disconnect power from the utility company from outside the house without climbing up the electrical panel. This is done in case of accidents like a house fire to prevent electrocution especially when rescuers come. It can also be used when there is a fault in the electrical flow that threatens people’s life.
Component Four: Fuse Box
An electrical panel, commonly known as a fuse, breaker box, or circuit breaker is a piece of equipment whose main job is to distribute power around the home and disconnect this same power from the incoming feed. Power comes into the breaker at 100 or 200 amps and it is then broken down and distributed to individual circuits, also known as branch circuits around the home. The main purpose of a breaker box is to protect the circuit from any form of damage when an electricity surge is identified. They act as safety devices and they shut off automatically when a fault is detected.
Component Five: Electrical Panel
From the electrical panel, current flows into approved electrical boxes usually mounted inside the walls of every room in the house. This is done in order to make the connection accessible. They are put in boxes then covered with drywall to make it accessible for repair in case there is a problem.
Component Six: Switches
Switches are last in the line of the components of an electrical system. After every other component is connected, the consumer cannot enjoy electricity when there is no switch. They come in different styles, single-pole, three-way, four-way, dimmer, and motion sensors. The purpose of a switch is to turn on and off a circuit from different places in your home. They control lighting, fans, receptacles, and appliances inside the homes. Their amperage ratings are different depending on the load requirements.
Learning the basics of an electrical system is useful to every homeowner and can be helpful in the future, especially when a problem arises. It is only prudent to know how everything works and how electricity flows from beginning to the end; making it easier to track down any electrical faults that may arise.