Wiring can be most commonly be defined as a metal that carries electricity between two points. As electricity flows along the material, resistance occurs, generating heat and electromagnetic fields. Circuit breakers interrupt electrical currents, and insulators, non-conductive materials; deter electrical currents where they are contraindicated.


Conductive Materials

Conductive materials are rated and used according to the degree to which they conduct electricity.

  • Copper - the best conductor when considering cost and usability
  • Aluminum - ideal for certain applications, such as power lines, where aluminum and steel are used for greater strength
  • Gold plating - used on occasion for wire bond integrated circuits because it doesn't easily corrode.

The voltage of wiring is controlled by the circuitry; amps refer to the amount of current that can be carried. If the current is too great, the current is shut off by an insulator, also known as a fuse, or a circuit breaker.

Standard Household Wiring

Typical household electrical wiring begins with two 120-volt lines, providing a 240-volt capacity and a neutral line originated at the service panel-the circuit breaker box or fuse box. The neutral line completes the loop. To carry the current into a ground when a short occurs, the 120-volt circuit has a:

  • Black "hot" wire
  • White "neutral" wire
  • Green copper safety ground wire.

Restoring Power After a Shut Off

In the event of electrical overload, the service panel will shut off the power. Power can be restored by resetting the circuit breakers or replacing the blown fuse. To prevent electrocution of the person doing the work, the service panel must be turned off when electrical work is being done.

Make sure to use the proper amp fuse with a fuse box. If the wires entering the house are damaged, request an inspection from the utility company and they will usually fix it for free.

It is crucial to use a fuse puller instead of removing fuses by hand. Though working with electricity can be tricky and needs to be done with extreme caution, there are a number of online resources that provide articles on topics such as:

  • The basics of electrical wiring
  • Installation of specific electrical appliances and lighting
  • Preventing electrical overloads
  • Dealing with power outages, including blackouts and brownouts
  • Important safety and troubleshooting tips.