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AR318B BUILDING UTILITIES 2 (ELECTRICAL & SIGNAL SYSTEMS) Page 1

INTRODUCTION TO ELECTRICITY
JGEP
I. PRINCIPLES OF POWER SYSTEMS

TYPICAL POWER NETWORK. An understanding of basic design principles is essential in the
operation of electric power systems. This chapter briefly describes and defines electric power
generation, transmission, and distribution systems (primary and secondary). A discussion of
emergency and standby power systems is also presented. Figure 1-1 shows a one-line diagram
of a typical electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution system.


ELECTRIC POWER GENERATION.
A generator is a machine that
transforms mechanical energy
into electric power. Prime
movers such as engines and
turbines convert thermal or
hydraulic energy into
mechanical power. Thermal
energy is derived from the
fission of nuclear fuel or the
burning of common fuels such
as oil, gas, or coal. The
alternating current generating
units of electric power utilities
generally consist of steam
turbine generators, gas
combustion turbine
generators, hydro (water)
generators, and internal-
combustion engine
generators.


ALTERNATING CURRENT POWER TRANSMISSION SYSTEM. The transmission system is the bulk power
transfer system between the power generation station and the distribution center from which
power is carried to customer delivery points. The transmission system includes step-up and step-
down transformers at the generating and distribution stations, respectively. The transmission
system is usually part of the electric utility's network. Power transmission systems may include
subtransmission stages to supply intermediate voltage levels. Subtransmission stages are used to
enable a more practical or economical transition between transmission and distribution systems.

PRIMARY DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS. The transmission system voltage is stepped-down to lower levels
by distribution substation transformers. The primary distribution system is that portion of the power
network between the distribution substation and the utilization transformers. The primary
distribution system consists of circuits, referred to as primary or distribution feeders that originate
at the secondary bus of the distribution substation. The distribution substation is usually the
delivery point of electric power in large industrial or commercial applications.

SECONDARY DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS. The secondary distribution system is that portion of the
network between the primary feeders and utilization equipment. The secondary system consists
of step-down transformers and secondary circuits at utilization voltage levels. Residential
secondary systems are predominantly single-phase, but commercial and industrial systems
generally use three-phase power.
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II. ELECTRICAL POWER
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III. HOW ELECTRIC POWER GRIDS WORK

Power travels from the power plant to your house through an amazing system called power
distribution grid. Power grid distribution lines can be above or under ground. The grid is quite
public. If you live in a suburban or rural, chances are it is right out in the open for all to see.

Electric Power Grid
Power Plants
Transmission Lines
Substations
Power Lines
Transformers
Electrical Wiring and Circuit Box

POWER PLANT
Electric power starts at the power plant. In almost all cases, the power plant consists of a
spinning electric generator. Something has to spin that generator, i.e. a windmill, a nuclear
powered steam turbine, waterfall, coal, oil, gasoline, natural gas or combination thereof. But, in
most cases, the thing spinning the generator is a steam turbine. The steam might be created by
burning coal, oil, natural gas or nuclear fuel, or the steam may come from underground sources.

POWER PLANT ALTERNATING CURRENT
Single-phase power is what we have in our homes. We generally talk about household electric
service as a single-phase 120 volt, AC service. If you use an oscilloscope and look at the power
found in a normal wall plug in your home, what you will find is that the power in the wall looks like
a sine wave and that wave oscillates between 170 volts positive and negative. The peaks are,
indeed, at 170 volts. It is the effect RMS volt that is 120 volts; In other words, the effective electron

























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pushing power. The rate of oscillation for the sine wave is 60 cycles per second in the United
States and 50 cycles in Europe. Oscillating power like this is generally referred to as AC, or
alternating current. AC power has at least three advantages over DC power in a power
distribution grid:
One: large electrical generators happen to generate AC naturally, so conversion to DC
would involve an extra step.
Two: you can use transformers to transfer power over great distances.
Three: It is easy to convert AC to DC, but expensive to convert DC to AC, so if you were
going to pick one or the other, AC would be the better choice and it has worked that
way for 100 years.
The power plant, therefore, produces AC power in three phases.

POWER PLANT THREE PHASES
Power plant produces three phase power for all to use but a household only needs one of these
phases. Power plant produces three different phases of AC power simultaneously and the three
phases are offset 120 degrees from each other. There are four wires coming out of every power
plant: the three phases, plus a neutral or ground common to all three. If you were to look at the
three phases on a graph, they would look like this relative to the ground. Again, a sine wave, but
crowded together. There is nothing magical about three phase power. It is simply single-phase
synchronized and offset by 120 degrees or three single-phase wires together. Why three phase,
why not one or two or four?

In one-phase or two-phase power, there are 120 moments per second when a sine wave is
crossing the zero point of voltage. In three-phase power, at any given moment, one of the three
phases is nearly at peak. High power of three-phase motors used in industries therefore has more
power output or requirements. Four-phase would not significantly improve things, but would add
a fourth wire. So three-phase is a natural settle point for industries, both to produce and
consume high levels of power.
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TRANSMISSION SUBSTATION
The three-phase power leaves the generation station or power plant and enters the transmission
substation at the power plant. The substation uses large transformers to convert the generated
electricity voltage which is at thousands volts level up to extremely high voltage for long
distance transmission. All power towers have three wires with three phases. Many towers have
extra wires running along the top of these. These are ground wires and are there primarily to
attempt to attract lightning and diffuse it into the ground.



DISTRIBUTION GRID
For the power to be useful in a home or business, it comes
off the transmission grid and is stepped down to the
distribution grid. This may happen in several phases. The
place where the conversion from transmission to
distribution occurs is in the power substation. A power
substation typically does two or three things. It has
transformers that step transmission voltage in the tens of
hundreds of thousands of voltage down to distribution
voltage, typically less than ten thousand volts. It has a bus
that can split the distribution power off in multiple
directions. It often has circuit breakers as switches so that
the substation can be disconnected from the transmission grid or separate distribution lines can
be disconnected from the substation when necessary.
Pad Transformers : for underground grids
Pole Transformers : for overhead grids.

DISTRIBUTION BUS
The power goes from the transformer to the distribution bus. The smaller transformer attaches to
the bus for stepping the power down to standard line voltage, usually 7,200 volts for one set of
lines, while power leaves in the other direction at a higher voltage off the main transformer. The
power leaves the substation in two sets of three wires, each heading down the road in different
directions. The wires at the higher voltage need to be stepped down again, which will often
happen at another substation or small transformer somewhere down the line. In a typical scene,
the three wires on the top of a pole are the three wires of the three-phase power. The fourth wire
on the poles is a ground wire and in some cases there will be an additional wire, typical phone
or cable wire, riding on the same pole.

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REGULATOR BANK
You will also find regulator
banks located along the
lines, either underground
or in the air. They regulate
the voltage in the line
preventing over and under
voltage conditions. At the
top are three switches that
allow these regulator
banks to be disconnected
for maintenance, if
necessary. At this point, we
have typical line voltages
that are 7,200 volts running
through the neighborhood
with three wires with the
fourth ground wire lower
on the pole.

TAPS
A house needs only one of
the three phases of power.
So, typically you will see
three wires running down
the main road and taps for
one or two of the phases
running off on side streets.

AT THE HOUSE
Finally, we are down to the
wire that brings power to
your house. Past the
typical house runs a set of
poles with one-phase of
power, 7,200 volts and a
ground wire. At each house there is a transformer drum attached to the pole. In many suburban
neighborhoods, the distribution lines are underground and there are green transformer boxes at
every house or two. The transformers job is to reduce the 7,200 volts down to 240 volts that
makes up normal household electric service.
There are two wires running out of the transformer and three wires running to the house. The two
from the transformer are insulated and the third wire is bare. The bare wire is the ground wire. The
two insulated wires each carry 120 volts, but they are 180 degrees out of phase. So, the
difference between them is 240 volts. This arrangement allows the household to use both 120
and 240 volt appliances. The 240 volt enters your house through a typical kilowatt-hour meter.
The meter is an electric motor (electromechanical) and the amount of load and frequency of
turns is measured by the dials that calculate the electric bill. The newer meters are not motors
but circuits designed to measure power and transmit the data back to the power provider.


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IV. ELECTRICAL SERVICE
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ELECTRIC GROUND

When the subject of electricity comes up, you will often hear about electric grounding, or just
ground. For example, electric generators will say, Be sure to attach to an earth ground before
using, or an appliance might warn do not use without an appropriate ground or grounded
plug. It turns out that the power company uses the earth as one of the wires in the power
system. The earth is an excellent conductor and it is used so it makes good return paths for
electrons. Ground in the power distribution grid is literally the ground that is all around you when
you are walking outside in the dirt, rocks, etc. The power distribution connects into the ground
many times.

The wires labeled as grounding wire are bare wires coming down the side of the pole and
connecting the aerial wire directly to the ground. Every utility pole on the planet has a bare wire
like this. If you ever watch the power company install a new pole, you will see that the end of
the bare wire is stapled in a coil to the base of the pole. That coil is in direct contact with the
earth once the pole is installed and buried 6-10 under ground giving a good, solid ground
connection. If you examine the pole carefully, you will see the ground wire running between
poles and often the guide wires are attached to this direct wire connected to the ground.
Similarly, near the power meter at your house or apartment, there is a 6 or 2 meter long copper
rod driven into the ground. The ground plugs and all the natural plugs in every outlet in your
house connect to this rod. That is how power is grounded.

SAFETY DEVICES: FUSE AND CIRCUIT BREAKERS
Fuses and circuit breakers are safety devices. Lets say that you do not have fuses or circuit
breakers in your home and something went wrong. What could possibly go wrong? Here are
some examples:
A fan motor burns out a bearing, seizing, overheating and melting, causing a direct
connection between power and ground. A wire comes loose in a lamp and directly connects
power to the ground. A mouse chews through an insulation in a wire and directly connects
power to ground. Someone accidentally vacuums up a lamp wire with a vacuum cleaner,
cutting it in the process and directly connecting it to the ground. A person is hanging a picture in
the living room and the nail used for hanging happens to puncture the power line in the wall
directly connecting the power to ground.

When the 120 volt power line connects directly to ground, its goal is to pump as much electricity
as possible through the connection, and either the device or the wire in the wall will burst into
flames in such a situation. The wire in the wall will get hot like an element in an electric oven gets
hot, which is to say, very hot. A fuse is a simple device designed to overheat and burn out
rapidly. In such a situation, a fuses thin piece of foil or wire quickly evaporates and kills the
power to the wire immediately protecting it from overheating. Fuses must be replaced, they
cannot be reset. A circuit breaker uses the heat from the overload to trip the switch. Therefore,
the circuit breakers are resettable. The power enters the home from the typical circuit breaker
panel.

Inside the circuit breaker panel, secondary wires from the transformer enter the main circuit
breaker at the top. The main breaker lets you cut power to the entire panel when necessary.
Within this overall setup, all the wires of the different outlets and lights in the house each have a
separate circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker is on, then power flows through the wire in the wall
and makes its way eventually to the final destination the outlets or appliances.



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V. ELECTRICAL CIRCUITS



















































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VI. ELECTRICAL CIRCUIT COMPONENTS















































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ELECTRICAL WIRING















































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ELECTRICAL SWITCHES AND OUTLETS



















































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GLOSSARY

ALTERNATING CURRENT an alternating current that reverses direction ate regularly recurring
intervals, having a magnitude that varies in a sinusoidal manner; abbr: AC
ALTERNATOR a generator for producing alternating current
APPLIANCE CIRCUIT a branch circuit that supplies current to one or more outlets specifically
intended for appliances
BRANCH CIRCUIT the portion of an electrical system extending from the final overcurrent
device protecting a circuit to the outlets served by the circuit
BUS a heavy conductor, usually in the form of a solid copper bar, used for collecting, carrying,
and distributing large electric currents; also called busbar
CABLE a single insulated conductor or a bound or sheathed combination of conductors
insulated from one another
CIRCUIT BREAKER a switch that automatically interrupts an electric circuit to prevent excess
current from damaging apparatus in the circuit or from causing a fire; a circuit breaker may be
reused without replacement of any components; also called breaker
CONDUCTOR a substance, body, or device that conducts heat, sound, or electricity
CONDUIT a tube, pipe, or duct for enclosing and protecting electric wires or cables
CONNECTED LOAD the total load of an electrical system or circuit if all connected apparatus
and equipment are energized simultaneously
CONVENIENCE OUTLET an outlet usually mounted on the wall and housing one or more
receptacles for portable lamps or appliances
DEAD not electrically connected to a source of voltage
DEMAND FACTOR the ratio of the maximum demand to the connected load of an electrical
system, used in estimating the required capacity of the system to account for the probability
that only a portion of the connected load may be applied at any time
DIRECT CURRENT an electric current flowing in one direction only and having a magnitude that
does not vary or varies only slightly; abbr: DC
DISTRIBUTION PANEL a panel for distributing power to other panels or to motors and other
heavy power-consuming loads
DIVERSITY FACTOR the ratio of the sum of the maximum demands on the various parts of an
electrical system to the maximum demand on the whole
FACEPLATE a protective plate surrounding an electric outlet or light switch
FAULT a local failure in the insulation or continuity of a conductor, or in the functioning of an
electrical system
FEEDER any of the conductors extending from the service equipment to various distribution
points in a building
FUSE a device containing a strip or wire of fusible metal that melts under the heat produced by
excess current, thereby interrupting the circuit
FUSIBLE METAL any of various metal alloys having a melting point below 300F (70C), used as
solder and in various safety devices; also called fusible alloy
GENERAL PURPOSE CIRCUIT a branch circuit that supplies current to a number of outlets for
lighting and appliances
GENERATOR a machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy
GROUND a conducting connection between an electric circuit or device and the earth or
other point of zero potential
GROUND FAULT a momentary, usually accidental, grounding of a conducting wire
GROUND WIRE a conductor connecting electric equipment or a circuit to a ground
connection; also called grounding conductor
GROUNDED CONDUCTOR any conductor of an electrical system intentionally connected to a
ground connection
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GROUNDED ELECTRODE a conductor, as a metal ground rod, ground plate, or cold-water pipe,
firmly embedded in the earth to establish a ground connection
GROUND-FAULT INTERRUPTER a circuit breaker that senses currents caused by ground faults and
instantaneously shuts off power before damage or injury can occur; abbr. gfi
GROUNDING OUTLET an outlet having an additional contact for a ground connection
GROUNDING ROD firmly embedded in the earth to establish a ground connection
HIGH-VOLTAGE operated on, powered by, or transmitting high voltage
INDIVIDUAL CIRCUIT a branch circuit that supplies current only to a single piece of electrical
equipment
INSULATOR a material that is a poor conductor of electricity, used for separating or supporting
conductors to prevent undesired flow of current
LIGHTNING ARRESTER a device for protecting electric equipment from damage by lighting or
other high-voltage currents, using spark gaps to carry the current to the ground without passing
through the device
LIGHTNING ROD any of several conducting rods installed at the top of a structure and
grounded to divert lightning away from the structure; also called air terminal
LINE DROP the decrease in voltage between two points on a power line, usually caused by
resistance or leakage along the line
LINE VOLTAGE the voltage supplied by a power line, measured at the point of use
LIVE electrically connected to a source of voltage, or electrically charged so as to have a
potential different from that of earth; also, hot
LOAD the power delivered by a generator or transformer, or the power consumed by an
appliance or device
LOAD FACTOR - the ratio of the average load on an electrical system over a specific period of
time to the peak load occurring in that period
LOW-VOLTAGE of or pertaining to a circuit in which alternating current below 50 volts is
supplied by a step-down transformer from the normal line voltage, used in residential systems to
control doorbells, intercoms, heating and cooling systems, and remote lighting fixtures; low-
voltage circuits do not require a protective raceway
MAXIMUM DEMAND the greatest load delivered to an electrical system or circuit over a
specified interval of time
NEUTRAL not electrically charged
OUTLET a point on a wiring system at which current is taken to supply an electric device or
apparatus
OUTLET BOX a junction box designed to facilitate connecting an electric device or receptacle
to a wiring system
PANEL a board upon which mounted are switches, fuses, and circuit breakers for controlling
and protecting a number of similar branch circuits, installed in a cabinet and accessible from
the front only; also called panelboard
PHASE the fractional part of a period or cycle through which time has advanced, measured
from a specified reference point and often expressed as an angle
PLUG a male fitting for making an electrical connection to a circuit by insertion in a receptacle
POWER DISTRIBUTION GRID through this system, power travels from the power plant to a building
for use
RACEWAY a channel expressly designed to hold and protect electric wires and cables
RECEPTACLE a female fitting connected to a power supply and equipped to receive a plug;
also called socket
SERVICE the supplying of utilities as water, gas, and electricity, required or demanded by the
public
SERVICE CONDUCTOR any of several conductors extending from a main power line or
transformer to the service equipment of a building
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SERVICE DROP the overhead portion of service conductors extending from the nearest utility
pole to a building
SERVICE ENTRANCE CONDUCTOR the portion of a service conductor extending from a service
drop or service lateral to the service equipment of a building
SERVICE EQUIPMENT the equipment necessary for controlling, metering, and protecting the
electric power supply to a building located near the entrance of the service conductors and
usually consisting of a main disconnect switch and secondary switches, fuses, and circuit
breakers
SERVICE LATERAL the underground portion of service conductors extending from a main power
line or transformer to a building
SERVICE SWITCH the main disconnect for the entire electrical system of a building, except for
any emergency power systems
SHOCK the muscular spasms caused by an electric current passing through the body
SHORT CIRCUIT an abnormal, usually accidental condition of low resistance between two
points in an electric circuit, resulting in a flow of excess current; also called short
SINGLE-PHASE of or pertaining to a circuit energized by an alternating current with one phase
or with phases differing by 180
SPARK GAP a space between two terminals or electrodes, across which a discharge of
electricity may pass at a prescribed voltage
STANDBY GENERATOR a generator for providing emergency power during a power outage;
also called emergency generator
STEP-DOWN TRANSFORMER a transformer having a greater number of turns in the primary
winding than in the secondary, serving to transform high voltage to low voltage
STEP-UP TRANSFORMER a transformer having fewer turns in the primary winding than in the
secondary, serving to transform high voltage to low voltage
SUBSTATION an auxiliary power station where electrical current is converted, as from DC to AC,
or where voltage is stepped up or down
SWITCH a device for making, breaking, directing an electric current
SWITCHBOARD one or a group of panels on which are mounted switches, overcurrent devices,
metering instruments, and buses for controlling and protecting a number of electric circuits; also
called switchgear
SWITCHGEAR ROOM a room containing the service equipment for a large building
THREE-PHASE of or pertaining to a combination of three circuits energized by alternating
currents or voltages differing in phase by one third of a cycle or 120
TRANSFORMER an electric device consisting of two or more windings wound on the same core,
which employs the principle of mutual induction to convert variations of alternating current in a
primary circuit into variations of voltage and current in a secondary circuit
TRANSFORMER VAULT a fire-rated room housing a transformer and auxiliary equipment for a
large building, usually located on grade or below ground and ventilated directly to the outside
air
TWO-PHASE of or pertaining to a circuit energized by two alternating currents or voltages
differing in phase by one quarter of a cycle or 90
UNINTERRUPTIBLE POWER SUPPLY an emergency system designed to provide power
automatically and instantaneously upon failure of the normal power supply
UNIT SUBSTATION a freestanding enclosure housing a disconnect switch, a step-down
transformer, and switchgear for a number of electric circuits
WATT-HOUR METER a meter measuring and recording the quantity of electric power consumed
with respect to time
WIRE a pliable metallic strand or a twisted or woven assembly of such strands, often insulated
with a dielectric material and used as a conductor of electricity


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BIBLIOGRAPHY



Ching, Francis D. K. "Electricity." A Visual Dictionary of Architecture. USA: John Wiley & Sons, 1995.
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Ching, Francis D.K. "Mechanical and Electrical Systems." Building Construction Illustrated. 4th ed.
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Edison Electric Institute. "Electricity 101." 2 June 2007. Minnesota Power| An Allete Company.
Web. 14 Aug. 2014.
<http://www.mnpower.com/Content/Documents/Company/EducationalMaterials/electricity-
101.pdf>.

Layton, David. "Electricity." (n.d.): n. pag. Powerkuff LLC. Powerkuff LLC, 16 Feb. 2009. Web. 14
Aug. 2014. <http://www.powerkuff.com/Download_Electricity.pdf>.

Naval Facilities Engineering Command, ed. "Principles of Power Systems."Electric Power
Distribution Systems Operations. Alexandria, Virginia: Naval Facilities Engineering Command,
1990. 1-9. Print.

Whitlock, Laura. Electricity - You Light Up My Life! N.p.: SSU, 30 June 2009. PPT.

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