What Is Electrical Service?

Electrical service is a system that connects your house’s internal wiring to the external wires coming in from the street. It includes a meter base, service riser and main disconnect. It is governed by the providing utility and must follow National Electric Code (NEC) standards and specifications. The meter base and service riser are generally the responsibility of the homeowner. The NEC requires that overhead electrical conductors be kept 3 ft from doors that open, windows, porches and fire escapes.

Whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner, understanding the basic components of your electrical service is essential for maintaining a safe and reliable operation. A few preventative measures can save you time and money, especially if you need to make repairs to your electrical equipment or systems.

The breaker panel, fuse box or service panel is the control center for the electricity that flows throughout your home and into your appliances, lights and other equipment. It can be found in a utility area of the home, such as the garage, basement or furnace room. It is sometimes contained inside a finished cabinet mounted on the wall. Regardless of where it is located, it will have a metal door that you must be careful not to touch with your hands or tools as it contains dangerous high-voltage electrical wires.

Electric service has a wholesale and retail component. The wholesale component is associated with high-voltage transmission facilities that transport electricity from power plants to the electric distribution network overseen by ISO-NE and regulated at the federal level by FERC. The retail component is associated with lower-voltage distribution facilities that transport electricity within your electric company’s service territory to your homes and businesses.

It’s important to make sure the electrical service to your house is properly sized for the amount of electricity you use. Under-sizing could result in frequent breaker trips and even serious safety hazards. Over-sizing can lead to hefty utility bills and wasted energy.

You can determine the size of your electrical service by adding up the total wattage of all the electrical equipment in your home or business and then comparing it to the maximum capacity of your breaker panel. A general rule is to keep your total wattage below the capacity of your electrical service.

If you’re planning an upgrade to your electrical service, the right size breaker panel can make all the difference. Knowing the size of your existing service can help you plan for future projects, such as a remodeled kitchen or a room addition.

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