Getting to Know Your Home’s Electrical System

Whether you’re building a new home and need some help planning out your home’s electrical system, or you live in a home that has already been constructed, understanding the basic layout and makeup of your electrical system is very important. We rely on our electrical systems to provide us with the power that we use everyday, making a basic knowledge an important part about home ownership. By understanding our home’s electrical system, we can better troubleshoot and handle minor problems, as well as explain more extensive problems to local electricians whenever necessary.

Your home’s electrical system consists of a few basic components. It is made up of your electrical service (the electricity being supplied to your home), electrical outlets, hardwired appliances and your lighting. To make sure that it works at the proper level, your electrical service must be sized appropriately for your lifestyle. In most cases, this means a 100-200 amp electrical service. For large homes, your electrical service may be as large as 400 amps. Your electrical service must be installed by a licensed, professional electrician who may also run other wiring in your home, such as telephone and cable.

Your electrical lines typically reach your home underground, where they meet with your electrical meter box. This box is normally located on an outside wall, where it can be easily read by meter readers. The wiring goes through your wall and into your breaker panel, which breaks the current into separate circuits through the use of switches called circuit breakers. These circuits allow you to control the electricity in several different portions of your home. It is at the breaker panel that the total amps that your system can handle are distributed throughout your home. Each circuit breaker is rated to handle a certain amount of electricity, 10 amps or 20 amps for example.

In order to keep you, your family and your property safe, your electrical system is safeguarded by local building codes and a variety of safety measures. This include, but are not limited to the following:

GFCI Outlets – A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is mandated in areas that are frequently wet or moist, such as kitchens, bathrooms, garages, pool areas and outdoors. These outlets contain special sensors that will shut off the power whenever any problems are detected

Circuit Breakers – Circuit breakers are your first line of defense against dangerous electricity levels. They are designed to cut off the electrical supply whenever power levels reach dangerous levels in order to prevent fires and electrical shocks

Smoke Alarms – Smoke alarms can be hardwired in each bedroom, hallway and common area to provide the highest level of fire safety to the occupants of your home.

In addition to the precautions above, national, state and local building codes require a certain set of procedures and standards be followed in order to improve the overall safety of our electrical systems. In most cases, your electrical system must be inspected by an electrical inspector both during the installation and after completion to ensure that everything is installed according to these codes. It is this set of regulations that both standardizes and improve the safety of our homes, businesses and other buildings.

Three Steps To An Electrical System Recovery

A sound recovery of an electrical system depends on 3 key factors which we will discuss in today’s post. The idea is to provide companies who operate on large scale electrical systems with the information they need to make their infrastructure safe, secure and redundant, in case of a disaster.

Knowledge Of the Electrical System

Companies need to be intimately familiar with every aspect of their electrical system. The more knowledge they have of their system, the quickly they can get the right recovery efforts underway.

Every business or company should have a recovery plan for all its processes. In case of electrical disasters, a safe and efficient recovery plan has to be in place. In light of that, businesses and companies should have the following.

A current single-line drawing of the electrical distribution system

Seek out and identify equipment that is critical to maintaining the existing infrastructure

Determine what components need to be replaced

These may be three simple steps but in fact they are enormous tasks each with its own set of tasks and subtask.

Let’s talk about water related disasters. Any type of electrical equipment exposed or drenched is water is a serious cause for concern. There is a good chance that the equipment is lost forever. However even if it’s not, re-energizing it without proper precautions and repairs is a disaster waiting to happen. Be mindful of other attributes besides water such as moisture and weather exposure. Both can effect system integrity. The excess water not only poses a risk for the equipment but to workers as well. It could be contaminated with debris, chemical or sewage, all potentially harmful elements to human life.

Implement Electrical Safe Work Policy Practice

Abbreviated shortly as ESWP, is a policy document that is created by the company. It is a very detail oriented document that defines in good length all the areas of a company’s electrical safety practices. Having a safety document is just a good practice, it is a legal and federal requirement in order to promote safety and contain hazardous incidents from occurring. The one thing to know about ESWP policy is that no two policies are alike. They vary from company to company and industry to industry. Each facility for example has its own specified levels of circuit layout, energy expenditure and voltage requirements. As such each facility will require its own ESWP and multiple location will involve multiple ESWP as part of the overall work safety plan.

Must Have An EEAP

By that, we mean an Electrical Emergency Action Plan. It details all electrical assets, and operational infrastructure. This plan will and should also highlight the potential risks and limitations of the systems to that engineers working on a recovery effort know the boundaries within which they need to work. This also translates to less uncertainties when a natural or man-made disaster occurs and severely reductions the down town of an electrical system because engineers have an eagle eye of the entire system and know where to dissect and which part to work on. From a financial point of view, an electrical emergency action plan will also highlight the parts the can be defective and thus provide cost engineers with the cost of repairing the system, a key calculation when formulating a repair strategy.

How Do Solar Electricity Systems Work?

A Solar Electricity System consists of silicon wafers which are laminated under a non – reflective glass in solar panels that collect photons from the sun and turn it into DC electrical power. An inverter then converts and transforms the DC electrical power into AC usable electrical power. That is the simple answer to how do Solar Electricity Systems work but there are so much more interesting elements to the Solar Electricity Systems, the mare subject of the matter may produce a few inquires.

PHOTONS

Albert Einstein concluded that photons are light in small pockets of energy that are the combination of particles and waves that come from the sun. While our society may know how to manipulate energy it is fortunate that the sun works regardless if we understand fully the physics of it or not. The natural ray of the sun is a main contributor to how a Solar Energy System works. The sun’s energy increases the vibrations of the molecules which are experienced as heat.

DC VOLTAGE

The DC voltage that emanates from the sun represents the rate at which energy is converted from electrical energy to some other form of electricity. The intensity of a DC voltage is determined by the power voltage of electrical current. The usable AC power is often referred to as the power factor which its purpose is to be used to determine the voltage and current of the DC voltage.

INVERTER

The inverter used to transform the DC energy to the AC energy is to replace and conserve power that is flowing through the energy grid. The inverter converts ad synchronizes the energy waves so that the needs of the consumer are met.

SOLAR PANEL

Solar panels are a group of cells used to convert light into energy. The panels harness daylight and process absorbing electrons from the sun. When the silicon is heated by the sun the electrons in the sun are absorbed by the silicon and this becomes DC energy.

SOLAR ELECTRICITY SYSTEMS

There are two different types of Solar Electricity Systems available that is the bill reduction and blackout protection. The bill reduction system will provide limited electricity if the grid fails. The blackout protection is a system that incorporates batteries that ensure the stability of electricity that is available to you.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS

The most economical benefit from how do Solar Energy Systems work for us is it protects you from future rate increases from your electricity provider. This system also allows for you to fix your rate for the next 30 years. The Solar Electricity Systems currently available are designed to lower if not eliminate your electric bill all together. The Solar Electronic Systems often referred to as the Photovoltaic Systems, have been circulating for 30 years now. Testing experts have deemed the system to last 40-42 years. The Solar Electricity Systems is a great option if you choose to economize and take a natural approach to your energy usage that can be supplied through the resources of the earth.

Is Your Home Electrical System Safely Grounded?

Back before the days when parents “baby-proofed” their homes, my wife’s little sister got quite a shock. Little sister was the mischievous type and stuck her finger into an electrical outlet. It’s not actually a very easy thing to do, but at three-years-old, her fingers were small. Fortunately, no lasting damage was done. But my wife will never forget her little sister’s blackened finger and the stern warnings by her parents that those mysterious little holes in the wall can kill you.

Now that my wife has married an electrician, she insists that I take every possible measure to ensure that the electrical system of our Los Angeles home is safe. One important step was to ensure that its wiring is properly grounded.

What is electrical grounding, anyway?

Grounding adds a safety factor for your family and your electronics. Here’s how it works. Electricity travels the path of least resistance. If an appliance like a toaster breaks, electricity can flow on the metal outside of the toaster. Touching it could result in a serious shock, causing injury or even death. But if the electrical system is grounded and the toaster is plugged in with three prongs, the electricity won’t flow to the outside of the toaster. Instead it will flow through the third prong back into the wires and harmlessly into Mother Earth. Thus, the term “grounding.”

An electrical system can be grounded with various types of devices. A “ground wire” is simply a wire attached to your electrical system that’s been pushed securely into the ground. Metal pipes (electricians call them “conduit”) that hold and protect your electrical wires can also act as a grounding device. Sometimes, grounding is provided by running a wire from your electrical system and attaching it to metal plumbing pipes that run into the ground.

Grounding protects not only people but also sensitive electronics. Without grounding, electrical charges build up in wiring and create slight but continuous damage to delicate electronics. This damage can shorten the lives of computers, phones, and any electrical appliance that has “smart” (computer) components, possibly your fridge or dryer.

How can I tell if my electrical system is grounded?

Homes built before 1950 were sometimes grounded. Homes built after 1950 were usually grounded. Even if your system was originally grounded, wiring mistakes may have rendered the grounding ineffective. Even with outlets that accept three prongs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your electrical wiring is grounded. The only way to know for sure is to have a qualified electrician check out your electrical system with a special tester.

My electrical outlets have three prongs — aren’t they grounded?

If your home has electrical outlets which accept three prongs, it MAY have a grounded system. The third prong allows an appliance to be grounded IF it’s plugged into an electrical system that has a grounding device. Sometimes three-pronged outlets have been installed in electrical systems that has no grounding device. This can make it look like the system is grounded when it’s not. Do-it-yourselfers or handymen may install three-pronged outlets in an ungrounded system not realizing the hazard and not knowing that it violates the National Electrical Code.

Sleep sounder with a grounded electrical system

If you’ll sleep sounder knowing that your family and your appliances and electronics are safer, ask an electrician to use a tester to check your electrical system for grounding. This can be done in a service call. In some cases, electricians will offer a grounding check as part of a free home safety inspection, particularly if they’re doing other work in your home.