Basics of Electrical Installation

Electrical wiring is a critical aspect of your home. Understanding its basics can help you avoid electrical emergencies and damages.

Power first flows through your electricity meter box, then through the circuit wires. The black wires (or "hot") carry current to outlets and lights. This linear power movement is controlled by switches and circuit breakers.

Meter Box

The electric meter box is where your energy comes in and goes out. It measures the electricity usage of your home and keeps track of the units used so that your utility company knows how much to bill you each month. It’s also where the service wires come in from the utility pole or overhead mast and connect to your fuse board.

In some homes, the meter is actually located in the fuse board itself instead of the meter box. This is more common with older houses where the meter hasn’t been moved since the house was built. When a utility technician is connecting the meter to your home, they first shut off the service wires in the meter box and open it to expose the two hot feed wires. They then strip the ends of the wires and attach them to their respective terminals on the hot bus bars in the meter base. After tightening the screws firmly, they tug on the wires to ensure they are secure.

A grounding wire is also connected to the neutral bus bar in the meter base. It runs to a grounding rod buried beneath your property and protects against any stray electrical currents that could travel through your house’s framing, wiring or fixtures. If you ever need to disconnect your electricity, the service representative would come back and cut the meter seal, remove the meter and boot, and then re-seal the meter base.

It’s best (and usually legally required) to have a licensed electrician handle electrical meter box replacements. This is a risky project that could lead to fires and other dangerous problems if not done correctly.


An electrical circuit is a closed path through which current can flow. It can be made up of almost any material, but it usually involves electrical equipment grouped together to perform a specific function, such as lighting, heating or electric motors.

To make a current flow, there must be a source of potential difference. This could be a battery or any other source of electricity that has a higher voltage than the ground it's connected to. Once the potential difference exists, the current will want to flow from the higher voltage to the lower one. To keep it from doing this, we use wires and devices that are designed to limit the current – such as resistors and capacitors.

Electrical circuits are represented in two dimensions on a diagram known as a schematic. It is a simplified, standardized drawing in which common components have specific symbols and the wires connecting them are shown with lines. These drawings are a big help when troubleshooting why something doesn't work.

There are two main types of electrical circuits – series and parallel. Most household branch circuits are wired in parallel. This allows each device to "tap into" the main path in the same way freeway ramps allow cars to exit and enter a highway without shutting down the entire system.

When there is a problem in a circuit, it is important to understand where the problem occurs. It is also useful to know how to shut down power to the affected circuit, so that the problem can be fixed before there is a fire or other serious damage. This is done using the service panel located in your home's utility area.


When you think about Electrical Wiring, your mind might immediately go to the main switchboard distribution and circuit breakers. These are a vital part of the power distribution system and help protect your home or business from damage caused by excess current. The basic function of a circuit breaker is to shut off the flow of electricity when it senses a problem.

These switches are designed to prevent the current from climbing to unsafe levels, which would otherwise cause equipment to become very hot or may start a fire. They are usually made up of a simple switch with one or more electromagnets. The electromagnets pull apart the contact points of the breaker when current reaches an unsafe level and stop power from flowing through the circuit. This is similar to the way a fuse works, but the difference is that you can use a circuit breaker over again while fuses can only be used once.

There are several types of breakers available for residential use, including standard single-pole and double-pole breakers as well as GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers. Generally, each one has a number on it that indicates how much amperage it can handle. If you accidentally call for a higher amount of power (via a power surge or short circuit), the breaker will trip and cut off your access to electricity until it is reset.

You shouldn’t be trying to perform any electrical installation without the proper licenses and knowledge, understanding the basics can help you avoid mistakes that could put you or your property at risk. Always ask for assistance from P2 Electrical Contracting. Their team comprises highly trained and qualified electricians committed to resolving your electrical issues in a timely and dependable way. It is essential to entrust electrical work to certified specialists, precisely what we deliver.


The switches in an electrical circuit interrupt the flow of current to perform ON and OFF functions. Switches can be either mechanical or electronic and are used in various electric and electronic devices.

There are a number of types of electrical switches that come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, however the type of switch you choose depends on its function and intended application. For instance, a double-pole switch has four brass-colored screw terminals to allow control of both incoming and outgoing hot wires in the circuit. These are often rated higher for power loads than single-pole switches.

Single-pole switches are the workhorses of switches and usually have ON/OFF symbols embossed on their face (though these might be omitted on rocker switch styles). New single-pole switches also have two green grounding screws to connect the circuit’s grounding wire. As a general rule, neutral (usually white) wires are not connected to switches.

A three-way switch, on the other hand, has three terminals. The darkest one is connected to the hot wire arriving from the power source and the other pair of screw terminals are attached to the "traveler" wires that link the two switches together. The switches are then used to control a single lighting fixture or appliance from two locations, such as the top and bottom of a staircase.

When working on a switch, be sure to follow good safety practices and make all connections as specified by the manufacturer. This includes always turning off the power to the switch being worked on before removing covers, junction boxes, and wiring. Also, be sure to use a wire nut whenever possible to ensure the proper connection of the wires and protect them from accidental contact with live electrical components.


Electrical outlets (receptacles) are where we plug in our appliances, lighting and other devices to supply them with electricity. But behind the scenes, much goes on to get this power from the breaker box to the outlets and back again.

Before starting work on any wiring make sure your breaker is off and that you have identified the correct power source for the room or circuit. If you don’t know where this is located check the breaker panel for a label or use a stud finder to locate the studs in the wall. Once the studs are located you can start to map out the wiring route to your new outlet.

Each receptacle has three holes in the front that are used for different portions of the circuit. The hole on the left is connected to a wire that brings in electrical current from the breaker box. This is called the neutral wire. The hole on the right is connected to a wire that brings the current out to the device or outlet. The grounding pin, which is usually green on receptacles, connects to the ground wire.

The NM (non-metallic) cable wires feed through the back or side of the receptacle’s electrical box and are held in place by metal cable clamps. The outer sheathing of the cable should only extend about 6 or 7 inches into the box. Any longer and the bare conductors are exposed, which could pose a fire risk. To prevent this from happening, a small segment of the new wire is cut and stripped and then used as a "pigtail" to reconnect the new outlet to the larger bundle of wires in the electrical box.

Electrical wiring is a critical aspect of your home. Understanding its basics can help you avoid electrical emergencies and damages. Power first flows through your electricity meter box, then through the circuit wires. The black wires (or "hot") carry current to outlets and lights. This linear power movement is controlled by switches and circuit breakers.…