Nationwide Electrician Directory
23 Sep 2016

Electrical Basics 101

We depend on electricity to light our homes, turn on our television sets, and even cook our meals. When the power goes out because of a storm, a short circuit, or another problem in the electrical circuit, understanding what the basic components of an electrical system is a must. Do you know what a light switch, an outlet, a range outlet, a dryer outlet, the difference between the cords is, the difference between a 15-amp and a 20-amp outlet, etc… As you can see, the list can go on and on.

Understanding how things work in the electrical system will educate you in the choosing of the appropriate devices needed to safely and effectively power your home and devices. It’s also important to know things like who is responsible for what portion of your electrical service components. The utility company services the line portion of your electrical service, but not the load side. For service after the attachment point, you’ll need to call an electrician. Let’s take a good look at the electrical breakdown to make you more informed of its parts.

1.  Electrical Service Connection

Your homes’ electricity starts with the power service. This is where the electric company connects their wires to your homes’ feeder wires that attach to the meter on your home or power pole. This is the device that measures the amount of electricity your home uses and determines the amount of money the electric company charges you on a monthly basis.

From here your meter either feeds a disconnect switch or a main breaker or fuse panel. A typical home has a single phase service consisting of an “A” phase and a “B” phase, a neutral and a ground wire.

2.  Disconnect Switch

A disconnect switch is mounted on the outside of your home close in proximity to the meter on the outside of your home or power pole. The advantage of having a disconnect switch is for safety. In the event of a fire or flash flood, you can shut the power off from the outside of your home verses having to enter a burning home or a flooded basement.

The other instance is having a transfer switch in which you can switch between live power and a generator for backup power.

3.  Breaker and Fuse Panels

A breaker panel consists of a main breaker that is sized according to your homes’ load needs. Typically, homes have a 100 amp or a 200 amp service.

A main breaker of 100 amps will only allow 100 amps to flow through it without tripping. In a tripped state, no current will flow throughout the panel. It is the interrupt between the service and the branch circuits of the panel.

This main breaker protects the main service wires from damages that would occur given an overload. In that case, the wires would heat up and eventually could cause a fire.

4.  Switches

Switches are the devices that turn on and off lights and fans in your home. These switches come in many different styles and colors to suit your design needs. There are single-pole, three-way, four-way and dimmer switches. Their purpose is to alter the flow of current to your lights and fans in a home.

5.  Outlets

Electrical outlets are used to plug portable devices into. Televisions, lights, computers, freezers, vacuums and toasters are all good examples of devices that can be plugged into an outlet.

Outlets consist of a hot feed, a neutral and a ground. Some outlets are used especially for wet areas.



13 Sep 2016

Electrical 101

Many homeowners are afraid to tackle simple electrical projects – and rightly so. Electrical projects can be intimidating. But jobs like light fixture replacements can be easy and safe. The following offers some basic information every homeowner can benefit from – nothing too scary.


Getting Started

When working with electricity always:

  • Turn OFF electricity at the main fuse box (or the circuit breaker box) that controls the power to the fixture or the room you’re working on.
  • Test the wires to ensure the power is OFF.
  • Place the wall switch in the OFF position.
  • All electrical connections must be in agreement with local codes. Check with local authorities to see if a permit is required.
  • If in doubt, consult a qualified electrician.
  • Do not use bulbs with wattage greater than specified for this fixture (if applicable).

Remove the wall plate and switch mounting screws so the switch can be pulled from the wall and the wires exposed. Don’t touch any of the wires until you’ve confirmed they aren’t carrying electrical current.


Two-and Three-Wire Cables

In contemporary wiring, individual wires run in a sheathed cable. Two-wire with ground and three-wire with ground cables are available. Two-wire with ground cables have a black wire, a white wire and an uninsulated ground. Three-wire with ground cables have a black wire, a white wire, a red wire and an uninsulated ground. Older houses may have knob-and-tube (K&T) wiring-a two-wire system. With this system, individual wires are insulated with white or black treated fabric.

Regardless of the type of wiring in your home, the white wire is usually the neutral wire, the black wire is “hot,” and the exposed copper wires are ground wires. The white wire is sometimes used as a hot wire because some wiring installations require it. In this case, the white wire should be coded black with paint or electrical tape. Note, however, that it is possible that whoever did the wiring may not have coded the wire. If a red wire is present, it should also be hot.


Electrical Switches

A switch is what opens or closes an electrical current to a light fixture, ceiling fan, garbage disposer or other electrical device. There are single-pole, three-way and multi-location switches, double switches and dimmer switches. Switches may be wired at the end or in the middle of a circuit.

If only a single cable enters the box (or one set of black and white wires), the fixture is at the end of the circuit. This is usually, but not always, the situation with ceiling light fixtures. If two cables enter the box (or two sets of black and white wires in older K&T installations), the fixture is in the middle of a circuit. A third cable (or set of black and white wires) may also enter the fixture, depending upon the installation. The placement of the fixture within the circuit affects how it is wired.

The black, or hot wires, are connected to the brass screw terminals on receptacles and switches. The neutral wires are connected to the silver terminals. Ground wires should not be ignored. They should be connected to each other, to the grounding screw terminals (painted green) on receptacles, and to grounding screws in metal electrical boxes when metal boxes are used.

Pigtail Leads

Pigtail Leads

Pigtail leads are short wires which are connected to terminals on receptacles or switches. The leads are then connected to the home wiring using plastic wire connectors. Codes in some areas require that pigtails be used on all standard receptacle connections. Always use pigtails when more than one wire must be connected to a single terminal.



03 Sep 2016
YOKOSUKA, Japan (June 2, 2011) Interior Communications Electrician Fireman Michael Colonna, left, from Sterling Heights, Mich., and Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Anthony King, from Nacogdoches, Texas, checks for voltage on an aircraft carrier elevator bell buzzer circuit during a dock trial aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington is the U.S. Navy's only full-time forward-deployed aircraft carrier, homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, and ensures security and stability across the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cheng S. Yang/Released)

How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Electrician?

Are you frustrated because you need an outlet where there is none or have an outlet where you don’t need it? Want to install a dimmer? With technology booming and becoming a more prominent fixture in our lives, adding or updating your electrical outlets and fixtures in your home is becoming more of a necessity.

What do you need done?

Often, an electrician will charge a minimum trip fee for a job, plus additional labor and parts. Since you may be paying a minimum fee just for the visit, it’s better to get a quote for everything you want at one time instead of piecemeal one-off bids. Do you want to install a ceiling fan? Add an outlet? Rewire a plug? Do you need dedicated circuits for your high-end electronics? The possibilities are endless and doing a quick walk-through of your home to see where you might need work might save you time and money in the end.

Pricing and Guarantees

Licensed electricians can charge anywhere from $50-$100 an hour depending on experience level and complexity of the job. This does not include additional costs for parts or minimum trip fees. An apprentice electrician could charge less than this for simple jobs.

Get detailed bids on the price of parts and labor for each project in your home. Additionally, make sure all expectations are in writing and that you completely understand the terms and conditions of the work to be done. Talk to your contractor about what happens if you aren’t satisfied with the work or if unforeseen circumstances cause changes in the bid. See what kinds of warranties are offered and make sure you understand what is included in the price of the estimate.

Want to save money?

Light dimmers provide control over your lighting design and may add some extra savings on your electric bill and allow you to adjust the light to meet your needs. Light timers and motion sensor light controllers are another great way to enhance your home’s lighting design and an easy way to reduce your energy spend. Have you thought about energy efficient ceiling fan installation? Ask your electrical professional about these and other great ways to reduce your energy consumption.

Urgent Repairs

It’s very disconcerting to plug in an appliance and see a spark shoot out, or to flip the bathroom light switch and nothing happens. These are all potential fire hazards and need to be looked at by a qualified professional as soon as possible.

Choosing the Right Electrician

Choosing the right electrician doesn’t have to be scary and you shouldn’t live with dangerous problems for fear of choosing a bad contractor. Make sure the person you hire is licensed and ask for references to ensure their work and reliability. Meet the electrician and make sure that you feel comfortable with that person in your home or office. Trust is an important factor in your choice. Make sure that you see their insurance policy as well as any insurance policies they have for their employees and ask about their liability in the event of property damage.