Often, electricity is compared to water when trying to describe how it works. A simple explanation would be that the water comes in from the well (electricity to home), where it pours out of the pipes (electric panel and wires) and then goes down the drain after being used (outlets and return line).
The Electricity Safety Foundation states that for you to keep the electrical system working effectively, and safely, you must understand the basics. Basic electricity can be explained in easy-to-understand terminology, but there are various technical ideas that you need to be aware of.
- Supply-Electricity is sent to your house from grids that are run by your service provider. Each grid is set up to cover a specific area and is adjusted to push the amount of energy that is needed from the distribution point to your house. Explaining how electricity is produced would take an article all to itself. For now, though, we will simply say that electrons, which are negatively charged particles, flow through the circuit to the protons, which are positively charged. The law of attraction states that the negative particles will be drawn to the positive ones. This is how a complete circuit is formed.
- Panels-The electricity that is brought into the house will pass through the main lines and go into a service panel box, where the amount of electricity that you use can be monitored by the electricity provider. From there the wires will go into a fuse panel that controls all the areas within the house. This panel should have a main shut off to turn all the power off, and it will have specific fuses to set areas of the house. This allows you to turn of one section of the house to work around electrical outlets or devices.
- Wiring-The next step in an electricity Melbourne household is the wiring within the walls. These wires allow the current to safely travel throughout the house to supply power where needed. As explained above, the negative particles rush through the wires to reunite with the positive ones. Most house wiring is running with a three-wire system. One, usually black, is for the hot wire. This wire carries the power through the house to all the outlets. The second is called the neutral wire, which is usually white or beige. This wire carries the power back to the starting point, which completes the circuit. The third wire, which is usually green, is the ground. This wire will only carry current when something goes wrong in this system. The ground wire will move the power into the ground to prevent any wires, or devices, from blowing.
- Receptable-The final spot within the electrical circuit goes to is the receptacle. This is where you plug your devices in or where you turn on the light switch. All the power from the substation is converted into a stable, usable current that allows you to use any devices, or appliances, which requires the use of electricity to operate.
A basic electrical current starts at the substation and moves through heavy wire to your panels. From the panels the power surges through the wires in your house to supply the juice for your devices. From there it will travel through the entire circuit back to the starting point, and then begin the cycle again.
If you ever choose to work on any part of the cycle, be sure to turn it off above the area you are working on. For example, if you are installing a ceiling fan, turn off the power to that room in the fuse box. Check the circuit with a tester before touching any wires.