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You don’t need a degree in electrical engineering to understand how electricity makes it from those big poles marching alongside the road all the way into your house. Here’s the path it takes along your home’s electrical anatomy:

How Electricity Gets to Your Home

  • Service Entrance – The service entrance is where the utility company’s responsibility ends and yours begins. A typical service entrance has three wires, two of which are “hot” and a third “neutral” wire. In an underground service entrance, you won’t see the wires because, well, they’re underground – typically 2-3 feet deep depending on your region’s requirements.

 

  • Meter – Your electric meter measures how much electricity you’ve used, so that the electric company knows how much to bill you. Utilities generally send meter readers out once a month to check your meter’s numbers.
  • Breaker or Fuse Box – Here’s where the good stuff lives. Your home’s main breaker box is generally right next to the meter and, not surprisingly, houses the main breakers. Most homes these days have breakers rather than fuses; should you have an older home with fuses, then this unit is (not surprisingly) called a fuse box instead. The main difference in use between breakers and fuses is that when a fuse blows it must be replaced, while breakers can usually just be reset by flipping the switch back over.
  • Ground Bar and Bus Bar – These bars separate out the hot and neutral wires from the service entrance: the neutral wire connects to the ground bar, while the hot wires connect to the bus bar. The bus bar holds the breakers/fuses and divide up the power into separate circuits for your home’s electrical service. Breakers can either be single pole or double pole; single pole breakers feed standard power 120 volt circuits, while double pole breakers feed heavy-duty appliances that need 240 volts of power.
  • Grounding Rod – This important piece of equipment protects your home from electrical damage and you from possibly dangerous shocks. The electricity from lightning bolts, like water, always tries to flow “downhill” into the earth. The grounding rod gives such electrical outbursts a way to shoot past your breaker box (and in-house wiring) into the earth instead, where it won’t do any harm.

Knowing the basics about how electricity gets into your home can be helpful, but it’s wise to leave any work on these systems to professionals in electrical engineering such as Builders Electric. Messing around with electrical systems can lead to expensive damage, injury, or even death. You wouldn’t let an amateur perform surgery on your own anatomy. Show your home’s electrical anatomy the same respect.