Thursday, March 1, 2012

Volts and Amps

It's March already! Can you imagine that? It's the first day of the month... and this blog thing always wants to have a theme day! They want to talk about electricity... I hate electricity because I can't touch it... but have no fear because I can talk at length about it. So here we go ...

Do you know how at a flip of a switch, you can turn on the light? It's magic! In a contemporary society, we use electricity. We need it and we love it. Your electricity is created at a power plant by a giant type of generator to yield between 300,000 to 400,000 Volts or even higher (you can fry a lot of eggs with this kind of power!) This monster electricity is transported on power lines efficiently because the voltages are so high. These power lines form an enormous grid that everything using electricity is attached to. In the US, virtually the entire country is wired to this same grid, with perhaps the exception of Texas. Then substations reduce the voltages to the less formidable level of about 10,000 Volts to be delivered to local distribution lines that carry the electricity to a transformer, a device used for reducing voltage to a level that matches the level of your home of 240 Volts.

Now look at the photo I took today. The three wires at the top of the poles are the three wires for a 3-phase power system. The three cylindrical objects are the transformers. The other fat cables are not part of the electrical system. They are cables for TV, telephone or internet. Because a house or a business needs only one of the three phases, a tap takes the 7,200 Volts of one or two of the three phases down a service line to a meter outside your house. Yes, a meter so they can count how much you use and send you a bill. That's the magic! You now know that the meter is the most important part of the rambling above. I still hate electricity!
High Voltage

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