Electrical Service consists of the conductors, materials and equipment that transfer electricity from the utility system to the home’s wiring system. This includes all components that are connected to the electric meter, which is usually located in the front of the house.
Most homes are served by a 120/240-volt split phase system. This means the incoming service line has two hot legs with black thermoset or polymer conductor insulation and a grounded neutral, which is what carries the electricity to the home.
The power reaches the house through overhead wires that enter a service mast or through buried lines. The service mast or meter head are the points where the meter and main panel connect to the power lines coming from your energy provider. The meter is what shows your energy usage and the electric panel is where the power is distributed to each circuit in your house.
Each residential service has a set amount of capacity that is measured in amps (a measure of electricity’s voltage and flow). This ranges from 100 to 200 amps for most single-family homes, which was sufficient for the needs of most homes 30 years ago. However, many homeowners are now adding appliances that require more amperage.
Always have a professional inspect and make changes to the main electrical service to ensure it is up to code. Doing so on your own can be very dangerous, as the service drop conductors are always live and could electrocute you. It’s important to make sure that the meter and meter enclosure are clearly visible to avoid cutting into the buried line. Electrical Service