Electrical Power Systems in Buildings Explained for Those in Electrician School

August 25, 2020

Have you ever wondered how electricity flows into buildings? An electrical power system helps make this into a reality. With electrical power systems and their parts and conductors, they can vary based on how big or small the building is. The processes used to deliver electricity into those buildings can also differ based on the size and nature of the building. Electrical power is delivered and converted to any load in the building using the electricity. The power being distributed within the buildings can differ depending on both the size of the building using it and the system itself.

Understanding how electricity travels towards outlets in rooms in a building is important to know for your electrician career, as well as the necessary procedures for it to travel efficiently within the building, regardless of size. Here’s what an aspiring electrician should know about electrical power systems in buildings.

Important Facts for Electrician School Students to Know

For any electrical power system, electricity is delivered via conductors, which brings power between two different areas of the building. Usually in electrical cable form, conductors deliver electricity to a load device from a generator, and are often made of copper. It’s typically at extremely high voltages that power is transmitted from the plant to buildings, as this is what is most effective. However, smaller buildings have electricity delivered through a meter with lower voltage numbers via a transformer. A switchgear will then be used to not only be an on-off switch for the circuit (with current flow being either automatic or manual), but also to protect equipment from the power supply. Lastly, a load device such as a heating unit is used to turn electricity into energy types like light or heat.

Electricity is usually brought into buildings at extremely high voltages

Larger-Sized Buildings: Bigger Spaces Need Bigger Systems

A big building needs an equally big load of electricity. Electrical equipment must also be proportionately sized for the power it would carry, and a transformer would be used to lower the high voltages coming through it. A switchgear—or multiple ones, if the building needs more than one transformer—then delivers electricity to various parts of the building, via either a bus or feeder. Students in electrician school probably already figure this is the case, but large-scale buildings need more power, and electrical systems for these types of buildings are used to study factors like load flow to ensure the conductors and equipment are sized accordingly. With taller buildings such as high-rise apartment complexes, high-voltage lines can be brought into the building in order to place different transformers in rooms on different floors. 

Smaller-Sized Buildings and Residences: A Simpler Process for Power

Those in electrician training may already know that smaller buildings and homes do not have a very complex system for distributing electricity. In these instances, either a utility pole or a pad will have the transformer attached to it–reducing the voltage before power goes to the meter. About 13,800 volts from the utility is significantly reduced, with power later going from the meter into the building. It then travels to a panel board with a series of breakers. Various circuit-based components in a home, such as lights or electrical outlets, will have this power flowing toward it. Residential homes often use low voltages of electricity, ranging between 110 and 260 volts. Smaller buildings such as low-rises tend to use step-down transformers, which reduce voltage to various levels depending on the size of the device using it.

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