Saturday, February 6, 2010

Most Basic Principles of House Electricity

This post will try to make you understand the most basic principles of house electricity. Since this blog is intended for beginners in electrical works, and for readers who seek to understand electrical system enough so they can do their own work, I think it should start with materials that can help readers understand whatever materials I post here as smoothly as possible.

It is actually quite easy to understand electrical and the simple diagrams below will show that.

Diagram 1 – The most basic principle of electricity
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What does this diagram say?

It says that there is a battery, a length of wiring cable connecting the positive terminal of the battery to one of the incandescent lamp terminal.

Then there is another length of cable connecting the other terminal of the lamp back to the battery at the negative terminal.

You may have played with toys that work with this very basic electric circuit when you were young.

You take one AA-size battery, a pair of whatever metal wires you can lay your hands on and a small bulb. Any bulb you can dig out of battery-powered electric toys will do.

Connect the battery and the bulb with the metal wires as in shown the diagram.

The electricity will flow and the bulb will light up.

There you have it, a working electric circuit.

Electrons flow from the positive terminal of the battery through the upper metal wire (shown by the red-colored arrow) to the top terminal of the bulb (i.e. load).

They flow through the bulb and come out of the lower terminal to the lower metal wire to go back to the battery but at the negative terminal.

Then they flow out through the battery positive terminal again, and the same process repeats.

These electrons flow round and round in the “loop” continuously.

The flow of electrons carries energy just like the water flow carry energy at the hydroelectric power station.

The filament inside the incandescent lamp converts the energy contained in the continuous electron flow into heat and light.

Such a long story, but where is the principle, right?

The principle is that there must be a complete circuit path or a loop for the electrons to circle around in a continuous stream between the source of electricity (i.e. the battery) and the electric load (i.e. the incandescent lamp).

If you break the loop at any point along this path, then the electrons will stop flowing. Therefore, the lamp will stop glowing.

Just like I said, it is easy. The only problem is that you cannot see the electrons flowing in an electric circuit like you see race cars racing (flowing continuously in a loop) in a Formula 1 race circuit. But it is very similar. No flow, no show.

Now let go to the second principle shown by the following diagram. Don’t worry. This is the last one.

Diagram 2 – The most basic principle of electrical power wiring

This one is the most basic principle of a house wiring installation.

Picture 3 below shows a typical house electric meter.

Picture 3 – House electric meter

If you look closely at the picture of the electric meter, you will notice that there is actually a pair of electric cables connecting to the meter panel. These electric cables come from the electric poles in front of the house (See Picture 4 below).

Picture 4 – Electric poles

So this satisfies the first principle above – the electrons need a complete loop path.

Now your source of electricity in Diagram 2 is the electric supply company who gives you the two terminal connections, just like the battery gives you two terminal connections.

With these two connections to the power source, you can make electricity work for you, right?

Well, not so right. Because this time the source of electricity is so strong, it can burn a house and kill the house occupants, literally.

It can kill without even causing the fire first.

Therefore, to make this strong power source work for you, you need to be able to control it any time you like.

You also need to be able to kill it before it causes danger or damages.

You need also the ability to shut off the flow of this dangerous energy into your house if your house wiring is not prepared enough to receive it safely, or to handle it.

That is the second principle, as shown by the diagram:

1. The switch gives you the ability to control. You can turn the lamp on and off with the switch.

2. While the fuse will automatically shut off the dangerous energy flow into the house when the energy flow behavior exceeds certain limits that you have set into the fuse.

These two make up the principles of a house wiring system. If you understand this, then you can understand any house electrical wiring.

However, the above is not yet enough to keep users from getting electric shock.

So, there is a third principle which I will continue here in a few days. But you can read the long version of at this post, 1-Phase ELCB Connection Pictures. If the materials there are too technical for you, there are a number of ELCB pictures there that you can see.

Copyright Most Basic Principles of House Wiring


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joe blanchard said...

Have a bathroom circuit. Was getting no power so I ran a new line from the panel to the box. Power came on light but every time I flip the switch to turn light off breaker trips

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