If you live on the grid, you receive your energy source from a utility company. Electrical power from your Electric Company is necessary for all types of daily tasks, applications and operations. It’s imperative that homes have electricity in order to keep the atmosphere temperate for every season. During hot summers, you appreciate an HVAC system that uses electricity to cool down the temperature inside of your home. Understanding how the power grid words can also help you save on energy costs.
How Your Home Receives Power
In order to keep cool, you must live on a power distribution grid. When power travels from the power plant to your home, you are using the energy produced by the power plant for all of your necessities including lighting, refrigeration, heating and cooling. If you live in any kind of urban or rural area, you likely live on some kind of grid. Those who live in more remote areas may use another energy source, but even these homes are still likely apart of the power grid.
Understanding Power Plant Operations
Most power plants create electricity with a spinning electrical generator. Some use hydroelectric dams or large diesel engines. Others use a steam turbine that burns coal. Others may have a nuclear reactor to spin the generator. The generators create 3-phase AC power. However, single-phase power is what runs through your home.
Alternating and Direct Currents
A battery produces direct current where there is a steady flow of electrons but only in one direction. Power plants use alternating current, which uses oscillating power. Large electrical generators naturally create AC. Transformers use alternating current to use energy. A power grid depends on transformers, which is why they can be found on telephone poles outside of your home, and they are the main trouble when a powerful storm causes a power outage.
How Power Grids Create Energy
A power plant uses 3-phase AC power. This means that they are constantly creating three different phrases of alternating currents. Each carries power out of the plant and into your home through wires that are ground in the Earth, which is the best conductor. Before power enters your home, it also goes through a transmission substation, where there are large transformers that act as converters for the generator’s voltage. The substation creates a higher voltage so that it can travel longer distances and move through the grid.
Distributing Power to Homes
Once the voltage is converted, it is distributed through the transmission grid. However, it has to be taken down a notch before going to the distribution grid, which is what will bring power to your home. A power substation is responsible for converting transmission to distribution. The substation has a bus that splits the distribution power into as many directions as needed. There are also circuit breakers and switches so that the substation can be disconnected from the transmission grid when necessary.
All in all, your power can travel hundreds of miles from the power plant in order to provide electricity.