1. Most power stations constructed these days produce AC current. In India, the AC changes direction after every 1/100 second, that is, the frequency of AC is 50 Hz.
2. In our homes, we receive a supply of electric power from the main supply (also called mains), either supported by overhead electric poles or by underground cables.
3. One of the wires in this supply, usually with red insulation cover, is called live wire (or positive). Another wire, with black insulation, is called neutral wire (or negative). In our country, the potential difference between the two is 220 V.
4. At the meter-board in the house, these wires pass into an electricity meter through the main fuse.
5. Through the main switch, they are connected to the line wires in the house. These wires supply electricity to separate circuits within the house.
6. Often, two separate circuits are used, one of 15A current rating for appliances with higher power ratings such as geysers, air coolers, etc. The other circuit is of 5A current rating for bulbs, fans, etc.
7. The earth wire, which has the insulation of green colour, is usually connected to a metal plate deep in the earth near the house. This is used as a safety measure, especially for those appliances that have a metallic body, for example, electric press, toaster, table fan, refrigerator, etc. The metallic body is connected to the earth wire, which provides a low-resistance conducting path for the current. It ensures that any leakage of current to the metallic body of the appliance keeps its potential to that of the earth, and the user may not get a severe electric shock.
8. The figure below gives a schematic diagram of one of the common domestic circuits. In each separate circuit, different appliances can be connected to the live and neutral wires. Each appliance has a separate switch to ‘ON’/‘OFF’ the flow of current through it. In order that each appliance has an equal potential difference, they are connected parallel to each other.
9. An electric fuse is an important component of all domestic circuits. A fuse is a device used for preventing damage to the appliances and the circuit due to overloading.
10. Overloading can occur when the live wire and the neutral wire come into direct contact. (This occurs when the insulation of wires is damaged or there is a fault in the appliance.) In such a situation, the current in the circuit abruptly increases. This is called short-circuiting. The use of an electric fuse prevents the electric circuit and the appliance from a possible damage by stopping the flow of unduly high electric current. The Joule heating that takes place in the fuse melts it to break the electric circuit. Overloading can also occur due to an accidental hike in the supply voltage. Sometimes overloading is caused by connecting too many appliances to a single socket.