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What’s an Electric Grid

Ever wonder how the kilowatts that power your killer HDTV arrive on-scene? Every day, homeowners nationwide take advantage of the grid’s power prowess – without giving much thought as to the complicated distribution network that is the electric grid.

Who’s on first? The power plant.

The first of the three large, interconnected systems that comprise the electric grid, generating electricity is the name of the game for the power plant, whether its wind, water, coal or gas-fired or nuclear. A constant supply is key to keeping up with demand – lest a blackout or brownout occur. (This is also why the U.S. and Canadian systems are interconnected – to ensure a smooth, balanced flow of electricity, and to prevent power plant or transmission line failures from resulting in service interruptions.)

What’s on second? Transmission lines.

Carrying electricity long distances, tall, towering behemoths called high voltage transmission lines ferret power away from the plant, carrying it long distances to where it is needed. Though an efficient and inexpensive way to transport power, however, they do not make for a safe mode of delivery for areas homes and businesses.

The monkey in the middle: Transformers

Transformers step-up voltage for transmission – then step it down again once it reaches neighborhood distribution lines. They are also used to step it down once more before it enters your home. Think of transformers as sort of the monkey in the middle of each distribution checkpoint.   

Sliding home… Distribution lines.

After transformers pare-down voltage, power is more safely distributed and delivered through neighborhood distribution lines. (Though it is paired-down yet again by a hanging transformer before it enters your home.)

Who gets it?

You. Though the electrical service to your home or business may be delivered via a different circuit of the grid than your neighbors…. Explaining why, maddeningly, every time there is a storm your home or businesses loses power – but your neighbors does not. Think of it kind of like the electrical system in your house: When you trip a breaker with your hair dryer, power stays on in the kitchen. The same concept applies to the grid system and the neighborhood(s) each circuit of the grid serve.

Called out at home?

If you’re experiencing frequent dimming of the lights in your home – it may not be the electric grid system, it may be your service. Though 60 amps of electricity pumping into your home was enough in the past, today’s homes and businesses typically require 100-200 amp service to provide enough power to successfully operate the glut of large and technologically advanced appliances simultaneously in-use. If you’re experiencing frequent electricity ‘hiccups,’ contact Mr. Electric for a free electrical safety and wiring inspection today.

This blog is made available by Mr. Electric for educational purposes only to give the reader general information and a general understanding on the specific subject above. The blog should not be used as a substitute for a licensed electrical professional in your state or region. Check with city and state laws before performing any household project.