Electricity for Homeowners - The Basics



Electric power is everywhere in our lives.  It has been such a prevalent force in our lives that we tend to take it for granted. 

 But imagine what your life would be like without electricity?   Prior to the invention of devices that could harness electricity, light came from candles, fire, and gas.  Televisions, cell phones, personal computers, air conditioners, refrigerators, microwaves and many other appliances and equipment that we use every day did not exist. 



According to legend, our quest for usable electric power began one dark and stormy night here in Philadelphia. In the mid-1700s, Benjamin Franklin and his son attempted to harness the electrical charge in lightning by flying a kite with an iron key attached to one end.


For the next hundred years, scientists throughout the world worked to create light using electric power.  In the late 1800s, the American inventor Thomas Edison and the British physicist Joseph Swan were finally able to produce a reliable, incandescent electric light bulb. By 1930, most urban Americans had access to electric power, although many of those living in rural areas had to wait a few more decades. 



Electricity is created by electrons flowing from one atom to another.  That flow, through a closed loop of conductive material, is what makes up an electric current.  A circuit transforms the electric current into a form you can use in your home –  for instance heat, light, and electromagnetic energy (as in LED lights). For electrical power to work, the circuit must be continuous.  Switches break the circuit in the off position, interrupting the flow of electricity.


Conductor - Materials that hold their electrons loosely are called conductors, because the electrons can move through them easily.  Most metals are good conductors. 

Insulator - Materials that bind their electrons tightly are called insulators.  Electrons will not flow through them easily.  Wood, rubber, glass, and plastic are examples of insulators.

Short circuit - the failure of electricity to flow properly in a circuit. This can result in excessive current flow and can destroy the power source.

Amp – short for ampere. A measure of the current (the number of electrons moving through a wire)

Voltage – a measure of electrical potential (the pressure behind those electrons)

Watt – a unit of power

HOW POWER GETS INTO YOUR HOME:  Power plants generate electricity by burning fossil fuels, splitting uranium atoms in a nuclear power plant, or using the energy of running water in a hydroelectric power plant.  This electricity is sent through wires to a transformer. The transformer “steps up” the pressure to hundreds of thousands of volts so the electric current can travel long distances.

A substation transformer then lowers the pressure (or voltage) to between 2000 and 13000 volts.  Electricity then is sent to a pole transformer, and the pressure is lowered even more - to between 120 and 240 volts

From there, a service cable carries electricity to your meter box and on to your home’s breaker box. At this point your home wiring carries energy to your outlets and light switches.

Your service cable is exposed to the elements.  If the cable is frayed, moisture can seep in, damaging the strands of the cable. If you see fraying, it’s time to call the professional electricians at Gen3 to protect you, your home, and your family from the possibility of power outages or unsafe conditions.

Contact Generation 3 Electric to inspect your service cables and help protect your home's electrical wiring.

Schedule An Appointment

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