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Branch Electrical Circuits & Wiring

A typical home has several circuits to deliver electricity to different areas of the property.

A Typical Home’s Branch Circuits

The circuits that deliver electricity to the various areas of a home are referred to as branch circuits. They originate at a service distribution panel, which has two hot bus bars and one neutral bus bar.

Depending on the amount of electricity a given circuit needs to deliver, it may attach to only one hot bus bar and the neutral bus bar or to both hot bus bars. For example, a circuit that delivers 120 volts connects to one hot bus bar and the neutral bus bar, while a circuit that delivers 240 volts connects to both hot bus bars.

The means of attachment is commonly known as a fuse or circuit breaker, and it protects the circuit from sudden surges in current. Neutral conductors are all grounded through direct contact with the soil. Unlike the hot bus bars, a neutral bus bar does not have an over-current protection device so it can maintain 0 volts at all times.

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About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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