Your home’s electrical and plumbing systems may seem to you as different as any two systems could be. But when you get down to the basics there are considerable parallels. The water to your home enters through a pipe that is under pressure, and, as you turn on a tap inside your home, the water flows at a certain rate known as gallons per minute. Where on the same note, electricity enters your home through wires instead of pipes that are also under pressure this is known as voltage that is measured in volts. As you turn on an electrical device within your home, the electricity flows at a certain rate also known as a current which is measured in amperes or amps.
When doing a replacement the replacement receptacle must match the one you are actually removing. If you have the receptacle that you are removing is a grounded type, you must buy a receptacle that also has a grounded terminal screw and slots for a three-prong grounded plug. This is very important.
Different than water which is used as soon as it comes out of your tap, electricity on the other hand is meant to do work: It is transformed from energy to power that is measured in watts. While household electrical consumption is comparatively high the unit of measurement that is most often used is called a kilowatt. A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. The total amount of electrical energy that you use in your home during any period of time is measured in the terms of what is known as a kilowatt-hour (kwh).
The instrument that is mounted inside or outside of your house that reports the amount of electricity that you use is known as an electric meter. This is the meter provides the power company with the amount of electricity that you used and that they will need to bill you for. There are two general types of electric meters use today.
The first type has a row of small dials on the front with individual indicators. Each dial on the face of the meter registers the kilowatt-hours of electrical energy that is being used. For example, if you have a 100-watt bulb and left it on for 10 hours, this meter will record 1 kilowatt-hour (10×100 = 1,000 watt-hours, or 1 kwh). Each individual dial records a certain amount of kilowatt-hours of electrical energy. Reading from right to left on most of these types of meter faces, the dial on the far right is the one that counts single kilowatt-hours from 1 to 10; the dial next to that one records the electricity from 10 to 100 kilowatt-hours; the next dial records up to 1,000; the next records up to 10,000; and the last dial on the far left records kilowatt-hours up to 100,000. If you notice that the arrow on a dial face is pointing between two numbers, the lower number is always the one be read.
The other type of electrical meter performs the same purpose, but, instead of having dials on the face of the meter, it has numbers in slots that can be seen on the meter face, much like your odometer in your car. Unlike the dial meter this meter is read from left to right instead of right to left, and the numbers in the slots specify the total electrical usage. There are some meters that also use a multiplying factor — the number that appears on the face of the meter must be multiplied by ten, for instance, in order to get a true figure in kilowatt-hours. Being able to read your meter will help you verify any charges that may be on your electric bill.
There are three main lines, keep in mind that if you have an older home you may only have two that are responsible for supplying 110-120 and 220-240 volts AC also know as alternating current into your home. Depending on numerous external factors the precise voltage will vary. This system that uses three-wires provides you with 110-120-volt power for receptacles, lighting, as well as any small appliances and the 220-240-volt power is used for things such as air an electric range, conditioning, a water heater, a clothes dryer, as well as in many homes electric heating.
Using the power companies service electricity is delivered to your home by the means of a simple disconnect device that is mounted in a permitted enclosure. This device is used to disconnect the electrical service from the interior wiring system. You may know it as a main breaker, main fuse, main disconnect, or often just by the name “the main,” this disconnect device may only be a circuit breaker, set of pull-out fuses, or even a very large switch.
Even though these main disconnects can be mounted on the outside of the home while protected within a weather proof box, they are mainly on the inside of the home within a large enclosure that also contain the circuit breakers and or fuses. That can handle the allocation of the electrical power all the way through the building or home. This is also known as the main box, a main entrance panel, or even an entrance box. All three wires from the main meter enter into this box. Two of these wires — the insulated red and black lines – that are attached to the top of a parallel pair of bare heavy copper bars these are called buses which are located at the center of the box. These two lines are known as the “hot,” or “live,” wires. The other wire or third wire generally is a bare wire, which is known as the “neutral.” This wire is attached to a separate bus, or grounding bar, that is silver in color strip that is in the main box. In most houses today this ground bus is in fact connected to the ground meaning the earth by a weighty solid copper wire that is clamped to an underground bar or to a cold water pipe or even a plate.