What are Residential Electrical Services?
Many times, a Plano residential electrician will ask a homeowner the size of the electric service. But first, what is a residential electrical service? It is a system of electrical wires running from your electricity service provider to your house. The cables could either run underground or from a higher point. At times, homeowners find it challenging to determine the size of their residential electric service. So, let's learn some basics of a residential electrical service.
What are Some Residential Electrical Services Electricians Provide?
Determining the Capacity of a Residential Electric Service
Volts versus Amperes
To start with, note that amperage is the unit of measurement used to measure the size of electric service. Amperage is the strength of the electrical current in amperes. The higher the amperage, the more people can use electricity in a given geographical area.
Typically, an electric service reaches residential areas in 120 or 240 volts. However, voltage differs depending on the electrical needs of a house. For a detailed understanding, let's compare electrical service with water flow in a standard pipe. The quantity of water moving in a pipe refers to a specific amount of water flowing in a pipe within a given time.
Similarly, electrical current is the quantity of electricity running in the cables within a specific period. So, it's not the quantity of water getting measured in the pipe. Instead, it's the energy in the water pipe. This applies to an electrical service as well. The amount of energy moving along the cable in a given time determines the capacity of the electrical service.
Electric service amperage dictates the volume and voltage of the service. Usually, in residential buildings, 120 volts is for smaller electrical appliances. On the flip side, 240 volts, is useful for bigger house appliances like air conditioners and electric heaters.
How do you determine the amount of voltage your house receives?
The only way to do this is to evaluate the main electrical cables connected to your home. Three wires are usually present, one bare wire known as the neutral wire and the other two "hot legs." The two hot legs have a black rubber wrap. The overhead or neutral cable has a direct link with the residential electric service cable, thus gets attached to the house or building. When all the wires have a direct connection to the building, it means the house receives 240 volts. The two wires wrapped in black rubber each carry 120 volts, resulting in a total of 240 volts.
Even so, residential electric services can carry 30 to 200 amperes. In large commercial buildings, the electrical service capacity exceeds 200 amperes due to increased electrical needs.
What does capacity mean?
The electrical service capacity varies based on various factors. First, the volume of the wire linked to the main building. Secondly, the size of the major electrical panel. Lastly, the size of the major disconnect.
The capacity of the Service Entry Cable
In some instances, the volume of the cable linked to the house is visible on the cable itself. You may see 150A or 100A on the service entry cable. Usually, this shows the capacity of the service entry cable. But a residential electrician will confirm that this is rare. Furthermore, if the capacity is not printed on the cable, you can still determine the cable's capacity based on the size of the wire. Some of the tips to help you are:
A service entry cable with a 0.75 inch and 0.88-inch breadth indicates a capacity of 60amp
A 1-inch cable indicates a capacity of 100 amps.
Cables that are 1.75 inches wide indicate a 150-amp capacity.
Lastly, cables with 200 amps usually have a breadth of 1.5 inches.
Note that the breadth of the service entry cable differs based on its cover material. It could have a covering of copper or aluminum.
Electrical panels have ratings printed directly on the label in the panel door. They could read 100A maximum capacity or 200A maximum capacity.
The capacity of the Main Disconnect
Contemporary electrical panels have their maximum sizes printed out on their inside doors.
Suppose an electrical panel has a maximum capacity of 100 amperes, this means that the electrical service has a capacity of 100 amperes. It is because it gets fed with the main disconnect of 100 amperes and a service entry cable of 100 amperes. However, in some instances, this is not always the case.
For instance, suppose a service entry cable has a capacity of 150 amperes and feeds a 200-ampere electrical panel. You can conclude the electric service has a capacity of 150 amperes. But note that this is not a safe condition, and homeowners ought to fix this. You might hire a residential electrician to replace the service entry cable. However, note that only undersized cables are unsafe. An oversized cable does not indicate a problem. Thus, you need not contact a residential electrician in this case.
Occasionally, different houses contained in apartments have various electrical services. In this case, every home has its electrical services. In such instances, a massive service entry cable links to many electric meters. Afterward, the electronic meters get linked to every house's electrical panel. Thus, electrical meters determine the capacity of each electrical service in the apartment.
All homeowners ought to understand their residential electric service. This way, they can answer the specific questions asked by their residential electrician. Additionally, they can identify the source of their electrical problems.
If you need a reliable electrician based in Mesquite, Texas, AK Electrical LLC is what you are looking for. Our residential electricians are well equipped to handle all your home electrical issues.
Areas we provide Residential Electrician Services: