How Electric Power Works

How Electric Power Works


The service entrance is where it all begins. Your local utility company will maintain and install power lines that provide power to your and your neighbors. These electrical wiring systems are state of the art equipment. Each individual home is equipped with an electric meter which monitors and analyzes your electrical usage in your home. Your monthly electric bill is determined by these meter readings. The electrical equipment on your property and in your home is your responsibility. You must maintain and monitor it, though a professional such as someone with Boulder Electrical can certainly be called in to help.

In the past, home operated at a much lower voltage than they do now. A modern residential home will carry 240 volts into the home via two cables of 120 V each and a neutral, ground wire. Cables can be hung overhead or dug into the ground. A service drop refers to aerial cables whereas a service lateral refers to the underground variety.


Your home meter will measure your electrical usage in kWh or kilowatt-hours. To put things in perspective, if you were to use for 10 hours straight, one 100W bulb, your meter would utilize 1 kWh.


Your breaker box or service panel acts as a distribution hub to all corners of your home. These circuits route power to a particular area of need within the home. Each comes equipped with it’s own breaker which self regulates to make sure that there isn’t a dangerous overload of power. A short circuit will result in an automatic shut off of power when and overload occurs. In the past, these boxes utilized fuses, which are effective at wrangling the threat, however would require you to change the fuse out if it were to blow. This was common in older homes, though most today are built with modern technology and many older homes have even upgraded to this style.


Electricity can be hazardous to humans and can result in injury and even death. Professionals will utilize special tools to verify if a wire is active or live. They will also shut off the main power in order to make sure there are no mistakes.


An electrical box can organize fixtures, outlets and switches within your home. These boxes can be customized in size and shape to fit varying needs. Certain types of in home equipment require varying levels of voltage. Some lighting areas may use multiple switches. There is a maze of wires and lines oozing through eac corner of your home in your wall, behind the painted drywall and through your wood studs. If you have never seen the behind the scenes, you wouldn’t ever know it and you might think that it was magic!


Part of the magic of electricity is the yin and yang of the process. A hot wire will push electric current from your panel to your desired circuit. The opposing neutral wire will counteract that, going in the opposite direction, completing the circuit. A neutral wire will typically be white in color, where the hot will be coated in black or red.


In order to safely operate without a threat of injury, the ground acts as a diversion to electrical surges. Electricity can be safely navigated into the Earth where it poses no hazard. The ground will often lead to a non-conductive area, stopping a problem before it ever arises. It truly is magic!