If you plan to upgrade your electrical system in your home, just make sure you know exactly what you are doing. If not, this type of task is what a professional should do. Obviously, working with electricity is serious business and without the proper knowledge and expertise, injury or worse could occur. To help get you started, we have provided some general information to help you understand how an electrical system works. The key is to understand the principles so you are safe and stay within strict regulations.
Electrical Current - The current is the flow of electricity that occurs around the electrical circuit. This flow has to make a complete circuit. What happens is that this circuit contains some type of power source, which is typically the national electrical distribution system - something you would not mess with. For home electrical work, your current is measured in amps, ranging from 0.5, which is what you would find in a light bulb, to around 40, which would be something like an electric shower.
Conductor - For the electrical current to flow, it needs a conductor, which would consist of anything that can carry the flow of electricity. Many times, a conductor will be something like copper bars or wire. In most cases, the conductor is tucked away and protected inside a plastic sleeve.
Insulator - This is the plastic sleeve referenced above. The insulator is what provides protection from the electricity flow and keeps the current inside the cable where it should be.
Distribution - Interestingly, electrical currents will change direction up to 60 times per second as they travel. The reasons are that transformers need to work with alternating currents and electricity is generated by winding wires around the inside of a magnet. Once the current is close to changing direction, a very brief amount of time when the current is nonexistent occurs.
Voltage - This measure is the amount of strength of the electrical supply. An important thing to remember is that voltage can still exist even when the electrical current is not flowing.
Resistance - As mentioned above, it is crucial that you have a good conductor. The reason is that most materials will have some level of resistance between the insulator and conductor, regardless of how great the material. Keep in mind that when materials have low resistance, they are good conductors but when resistance is high, they make excellent insulators.
Ring Wiring - This type of wiring is used if an appliance needs to have two conductors run to it. For instance, if you have an oven that has two conductors, by running wiring to both conductors, you are literally doubling the amount of current that can be carried to that appliance.
Power - This is defined as the rate at which an electrical appliance is able to consume electrical energy or the rate at which a generator can produce it. Power is measured in two ways - watts, or kilowatts, which is 1,000 watts.