Home Electricity 101: The Parts Of Your Home Electric System

January 28, 2013

Knowing how your home electrical system works can help you avoid potential dangers (like circuit overloads) and can also aid in troubleshooting electrical problems (like flickering lights).

There are three main parts of your home electric system: the main panel, circuits, and wiring.

Main Electric Panel

The main panel in your electric system is where electricity comes into your home from the electric company.

The main panel then takes this electric current and splits it into different circuits. These circuits pass through circuit breakers (or fuses) out to your home’s electronics.


The circuits are the paths over which electricity is carried to and from an electric source.

Most of the circuits in your home have more than one outlet or light. Circuits can be of different sizes – that is they can carry different amounts of electricity.

For example, a typical home outlet is 120 volts, but larger appliances (such as refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines) require more electricity to run. Therefore, these appliances are usually placed on their own circuits and given 240-volt outlets.

Electrical Wiring

The wires that run throughout your home and carry electricity to your appliances, lights, and electronic devices, make up the circuits described above.

Different types and sizes (measured in gauges) of wires carry different amounts of electricity to your appliances. For the larger appliances that require more electricity, more heavy-duty wiring is used.

This is why it’s important not to plug large appliances into a normal outlet or circuit.

How They Work Together

Each part of your home electrical system works together to keep you safe.

In the main panel, every circuit has a fuse or circuit breaker that is rated for a maximum voltage. If too much electricity is pulled by one circuit (either by plugging too many things in or because of faulty appliances), the fuse goes out or the circuit “breaks”.

Since the wires in your home were created for a specific load of electricity, this keeps them from overheating and creating a fire hazard.

So, the next time your fuse blows or your circuit breaker is tripped, remember that it is just doing its job keeping you and your home safe.

Energy Today serves the entire Sarasota, Florida area. Do you have an electrical problem that you can’t pinpoint? We can help!

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