How Power gets to your house.

From Generation to your house (It’s not magic but it’s close)

I have had a lot of questions from apprentices and journeymen alike to do a quick run down of how power gets from generation to your house.  It is not as difficult to understand as you may think.  There are four basic steps to the process:

1- The power plant

This is where the power is generated.  This is done through:

  • Steam
  • Nuclear
  • Hydro
  • Co-generation

Basically, it is the same process for all.  A turbine spins a rotating magnetic field.  A voltage is induced into an armature and voila, you have your voltage.

These power plants typically generate 3 phase power at about 11,000 volts.  They generate the voltage at 3 phase as it is more efficient than single phase (another discussion for another time).

Once the voltage is generated we are ready for the next step in the process.

2- Transmission

Once it is generated it needs to be sent somewhere.  Thanks to Tesla we now are able transmit voltages long distances with minimal losses.

The 11 KV is not enough to transmit so we step the voltage up to 155 KV to 750 KV.  I know right!

These are the wires that run on the huge steel towers.

Fun fact: The maximum transmission distance is 300 miles!

3- Distribution substation

Once the voltage gets to the area it is needed in, it is run through a substation to step the voltages down.

It is not stepped down to 120/240 V yet.  It is brought down to a distribution voltage level.  These range from 7.2 to 25 KV.

This is where the voltage is split off on a bus system.  It is also converted into single phase from 3 phase.

4- Distribution Transformers

This is where the voltage is stepped down to the 120/240 volts that you get to your house.

See I told you it wasn’t magic.

Watch the video for a greater description.  It was taken from a facebook live video.

As always you can reach me anytime at chad@theelectricacademy.com.

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