Electrical Service is the supply of electricity from a utility and includes the transportation to and distribution inside a home or business. The service point, where the power lines connect to a structure, is generally where the customer’s meter is located. The NEC requires that all conductors and equipment between this point and the meter be in compliance with the Code. It also provides that a meter must be read regularly, by an authorized meter reader. The meter readers are a valuable part of society, working in rain, snow and freezing temperatures to ensure the flow of electrons in our modern world continues as it should.
Generally speaking, electric services enter buildings in two forms, 120 volts and 240 volts. Voltage is the measurement of electricity carried through a wire, while amperage is a measure of the capacity of that service. The two are sometimes used interchangeably, as they are both relative to the amount of energy being carried in a wire.
The size of a service can vary from 30 amps in some older homes that have not been updated to up to 400 amps in the largest homes with extensive electric heating systems. Having an understanding of the size of a home’s service can help a homeowner determine whether or not the current wiring is sufficient for new additions, renovations and updates to existing rooms.
A residential home’s electric service will usually enter the house through a service panel, which is a vertical gray metal box mounted in a utility area of the home. The panels are typically located in a garage or other room in the house that is not finished living space, such as a basement. In some cases, the service drop may be buried and the panel will be located underneath the home.
While most homes have a single service panel, three-phase and other voltages may be available. Contact your local electric utility for more information on availability and requirements.
A fee may be charged to cover initial expenses for extending the primary and/or secondary distribution system to provide electric service to buildings, residences or subdivisions/developments that have not previously been served. This includes, but is not limited to, the costs of poles, transformers and meter bases. These charges are levied in accordance with the provisions of Article 100.