Every household in the world relies on a variety of electrical components to function. However, many people have little understanding of what these are, how they work and what their function is.
It’s important that you at least have some basic knowledge about the electricity in your household. You’d be surprised how often this will come in handy, and it may even help keep you safe in an electrical emergency one day.
Understanding the basic electrical parts and components in your home is very important. Let’s take a look what the meter box, circuits, fuse board and breakers do and how they work.
The Meter Box
When electricity is delivered to your home, it first goes through your electrical meter box. This is what measures how many units of energy your household uses. This is measured in kWh – kilowatt hours – and is what your energy provider uses to determine how much power you used during your billing cycle (and hence how much you will be charged).
You are charged by the number of total units used in a cycle, meaning the total kWh used. 1 kWh is the amount of watts used, multiplied by the number of hours used, divided by 1000. For example, if you use a 1000W electrical appliance for one hour every day, then the total kWh used by this appliance is one kWh per day. How much this costs you will depend on your energy provider.
For energy to flow to light sockets and power points in your home, it needs to travel through a path or “circuit”. It is called a circuit because it contains two wires: one that delivers electricity from the generator to the destination (this is ‘active’) and one that carries electricity back to the generator (this is ‘neutral’), thus completing the “circuit”.
The Fuse Board
The circuits delivering electricity to different parts of a house are all connected to single fuse board. This is the “brain” of the whole system. When electricity is delivered to a house, it first flows through the meter box, then is carried to the fuse board. From there it is distributed throughout the house via various circuits, hence why is it also called the ‘distribution box’. There are not circuits for every powerpoint and lighting socket in a house, rather they are grouped into different categories (for example there may be one for your hot water system, one for your stove, three for your power points, and two for your lighting).
Each circuit group has a switch, which are called ‘circuit breakers’. Labels will usually indicate which part of the house each switch controls. In the event that a circuit is overloaded it could become very hot and pose the risk of starting an electrical fire. The circuit breaker’s job is to stop this happening. If the current flow exceeds the rated amp value of the circuit, the switch is opens, “breaking” the flow of the current, shutting the power off to that circuit in a extremely short amount of time, stopping any chance of an accident happening. The circuit can be connected again simply by closing the switch.
The fuse board also has a “main breaker”. This is the first component that receives electricity after the meter box. This is kind of like the master power switch – if you need to shut off power for the entire house, simply flip this switch.
The trip switch is a kind of master circuit breaker that monitors the flow of current through all electrical wiring and disconnects the supply of electricity if it detects any abnormalities, from the tiniest imbalance (such as if a power board is overloaded) to large surges (such as during an electrical storm). If the amount of current flowing in is the same as the amount flowing out, the switches remain on. If there is an imbalance, the switch is “tripped” and the flow of current to the entire house is cut off.
If you have any questions regarding electricity in your house, or are looking for a quote for electrical installations, repairs, or general maintenance, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. With over 9 years experience under our belt, we pride ourselves on providing fast and efficient service of the highest quality. Get in touch with us today.