We rely on electricity in our homes to always run appliances, charge devices, and more. When there is an issue or power outage, it can create a frustrating situation. Understanding how the electricity works in your home can give a feeling of more control over understanding how it works and how to handle common electrical problems.
Older construction is notorious for having inadequate power because the electrical panels reveal that they rely on 60amp or 100amp service rather than the 200amp service that modern buildings use today. Other problematic issues that need addressing include:
● Ungrounded circuits
● Deteriorated wiring
● Danger of arcing
● Older panels with fuses instead of circuit breakers
How Does Electricity Work Inside a Home?
Learning how electricity arrives in your home is the primary way to start understanding it. Start by following the wiring to your home’s meter box. The box measures the amount of electricity used by the address. The next central location is the main service panel, which is a metal box with a hinged cover in the home. In older houses, it may be a fuse-controlled collection of circuits. There will be the main switch in both types that can shut off all the power in the home.
The cables that are run in the home for electricity are often referred to as Romex cables. These plastic-sheathed wires have the wire gauge and the number of amps the wire can carry. Lighting circuits are usually white and work with 15amp circuits, while yellow sheathed cables carry 20amps with ease. The metal-clad line known as “BX cable” is standard in older homes and may have a black or live wire exposed. Avoid coming into contact with the live wire as there is a danger of shock.
Residential Electric Code Requirements
The electrical code requirements are specific about the different types of breakers that get used in a home. For example, outlets in the house that can come into contact with excessive moisture, such as a bathroom or kitchen, must have GFCI protection. Additionally, many building codes now require AFCI breakers because they have spark detection and help protect against electrical fires. Modern breakers that receive more current than the amperage of the circuit will trip and save the rest of the circuits and reduce fire risk.
Upgrading the electrical panel should be a part of any remodeling project. Another beneficial update is switching out the existing lighting for LED lights. If recessed lighting gets chosen, it should have an IC (insulation contact) rating so attic insulation can come into contact with the fixture safely.
Are Generators Worth It?
If you live in an area of the country where wild weather or earthquakes cause power outages, it might be worth it to invest in a generator. The first rule of purchasing a generator is the more power you want, the more it will cost. Getting a generator to run your HVAC and refrigerator can make life far better when the electricity is out and you are waiting for repairs to happen. As far as where to start, small generators that produce up to 2000 watts can power a fridge, laptop, phone charge, and the lights in a house under 1200 square feet. Smaller units are usually powered by gasoline, while larger generators use natural gas or propane for power. All of this equipment produces carbon monoxide and should never, ever be turned on indoors. They should be several feet away from the house to operate safely.