Electric service is the connection to a power supply that allows you to operate electrical devices and appliances. Electrical service consists of both a delivery component, which involves the transportation of electricity to your home or business and the metering that tracks your energy use, and a supply component, which refers to the purchase of your electricity from a competitive supplier. The delivery component of your electric service is provided by your local utility company, which you must buy from unless you are building your own power generation facility.
The main service panel is typically a gray metal box that can be found in a utility area of your house, such as the garage, basement or furnace room. The main panel will contain two rows of individual circuit breakers that are numbered and which are controlled by small toggle levers. These individual circuit breakers are used to control the branch circuits that run throughout your home to power outlets, light fixtures and appliances. A typical electrical service panel will have a total of around 30 to 50 individual breakers that are sized at between 15 and 50 amps each.
Whether you are a homeowner, contractor or builder, it is important to be aware of the safety issues related to working with an overhead electric service. In addition to the obvious danger of electrocution, you should be especially careful when handling tools that might touch any part of the exposed service wires, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, wire cutters or strippers. Any of these items can transmit an electric shock that could injure or kill you.
Overhead electricity connections are becoming less and less common in new construction, with many municipal design standards and utility regulations now requiring that new homes have their electrical service conductors installed underground. This protects the conductors from weather and icing conditions and helps to prevent damage or accidents that may occur when vehicular traffic runs over the wires. But there are still millions of overhead electric services throughout the country and these must be treated with great care.
While you can find a lot of information on the internet about electricity and electrical service, the best source for detailed knowledge about your electrical system is your local electric utility company. They will be able to help you understand your electric service requirements, including the size of the cable feeding your home, and the type of meter and voltage that are associated with it.
When it comes to your own home’s electrical system, the most important consideration is the size of your service panel. Underestimating the size of your service can lead to inconveniences, expensive electrical equipment damage, hefty utility bills and serious safety risks. On the other hand, overestimating can also result in higher utility bills and wasted energy. To help ensure that your service is properly sized, the following tips from J&S Electrical Contractors Inc. are worth a read: