Home Electrical Systems: How Are Homes Wired?

The electrical system in a given home consists of an electric meter, incoming power lines, service panels, electrical boxes, receptacles, and switches, among other equipment that allow the power to provide electricity. It is an intricate wiring maze designed to offer power from local utilities to homes efficiently and safely.

To understand how the electrical system works, you need information about the electric meter, the main electric panel, and the other branch panels. Click here to find out electrical panel service in Vancouver, WA. You must seek professional help whenever you need to fix something on the electrical system to avoid accidents.

The Meter

The electrician connects the main line (that is connected to the electric pole) to the meter on the exterior of your home. The same case applies if the main electric supply line is coming from underground. Most meters are mechanical, with a mechanical display of numbers and a spinning wheel.

Some models are more recent that have an LCD screen which the meter readers from the utility companies use when they visit. Your meter accumulates data about the electricity in kilowatt-hours you have used every month. The meter readers use the monthly increase to generate your electricity bill.

Main Breaker Panel

In most cases, you will find home breaker panels inside the homes. There are weatherproof panels meant to stay outside; however, after the main line is joined to the meter, it is supposed to move to a main breaker panel from the meter while it enters the home, precisely at the main circuit breaker.

The work of a main circuit breaker is to lower the risk of electrocution or fire by acting like a switch that is always ready to turn off anytime there is an overload. You can have a two hundred amp service if you have a new home. Older homes require one hundred amp service, while larger homes have to use four hundred amp. Look at your home’s main breaker panel to check how much it uses.


Through circuit breakers, electric systems give out power. There are bundles of wires in the ceilings, floors, and walls of every room in the house and through the appliances that are hard wired. In every bundle, you will find three wires. Two are insulated using plastic, and the remaining one has no insulation. The black and red wires come directly from the circuit breaker, and you should consider them “hot” wires. The white wire also returns the current to the panel’s source.

The white wire is neutral; the part that enhances safety is the bare wire. The wire is copper ground, a straight path to the circuit. In a short circuit, the ground wire acts with the circuit breaker. Ground wires act like paths of least resistance when there is excess electricity. The electricians attach the insulated wires to switches or outlets.

When you have not plugged something in or switched the sockets off, the wires cannot meet. On the other hand, once you turn the switch on or plug something into the outlet, the wires meet to complete the circuit, allowing light electricity to flow through the appliances easily.


GFCI is the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet, the most common safety precaution that follows the breaker system. It implies that once someone starts to receive a shock but manages to shut off the electricity within milliseconds, they can keep potential electrocution at bay.

Electricians usually store some of these GFCI in areas with water, for instance, the kitchen, bathroom, and the like. Any time the GFCI has tripped, the reset button is always effective in restoring the power if the problem has been effectively fixed.GCFIs have sensors that sometimes fail, so you must keep testing them repeatedly to ascertain that they are working.

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupts

Among the faults that GCFIs have is electrical arcing. It is a less direct fault that sometimes happens when the water or metal completes a circuit that was not intended to complete. A GFCI can perceive a dead short and also an electric arcing. For an arcing to happen, there must be a loose connection.

It is where your furniture meets electrical cords, even on your walls. This hazard can only be interrupted by Arc Fault Circuit Interrupts (AFCIs). According to the national electrical code, the AFCI outlets should be in a lot of areas in the home, including the dining rooms, family rooms, closets, bedrooms, hallways sunrooms, among others. They may look like standard outlets, but if you are keen enough, you will notice that they have a reset and a test button.

Latest Posts