Electrical Service (sometimes called a “Service Drop” or “Service Entrance”) is the set of wires from the power company that feed into the electrical panel in your home. The electrical panel is where all the switches, outlets, and appliances come in and go out. When a circuit becomes overloaded or overheated, a breaker in your service panel will trip and shut off the electricity to that particular branch of wiring. This is a safety feature that keeps overheated circuits from damaging your property or causing a fire.
Ideally, your Electrical Service should be properly sized for the load that you intend to put on it. We frequently receive calls from homeowners who want to add more plugs, lights, fans or other electrical equipment. These additions all require an available circuit and enough amperage to power them.
A good Electrical Contractor will take a look at the capacity of your current Electrical Service and recommend the correct size to meet your household needs. Factors that affect your Electrical Service include the number of lights, outlets and appliances, square footage, heating and cooling use and other variables.
The Electric Service in a house is usually supplied by two 120-volt wires that offer a combined total of 240-volts to your home. The service wires reach your home either through overhead wires that enter a metal service mast at a point called the weather head and then pass down and through an electrical meter into your house or through underground wires that reach up to a meter box attached to the outside of your house.
A meter is a watt measuring device that the power company uses to track the amount of electricity used each month. It can be old-fashioned with a dial, or new state of the art digital. Either way, it is your responsibility to keep the meter accurate by reading it regularly. The first stop for the main electrical service after passing through the meter is the main electrical panel, also known as the breaker box or a fuse panel.
The main electrical panel is located in a utility area such as the garage, basement or a room inside a finished part of the house. It is a vertical gray metal box that is mounted to a wall. Occasionally, it may be contained in a finished cabinet of some type, but by law it must remain accessible at all times.
The main electrical service panel contains circuit breakers that distribute the electricity from the service lines into branches of wiring inside your home to power all the switches, outlets and appliances in your house. It is important that you never attempt to make any repairs, maintenance or installation of your own on the main electrical service or its components as these wires are always live and can shock you.