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Electrical Wire and Cable

Basic House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers

home-electrical-circuits Summary: This article looks at common 120 volt and 240 volt house wiring circuits and the circuit breakers that are installed identifying the types and amperage sizes used in most homes.
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Electrical Circuits and Circuit Breakers for House Wiring

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The electrical circuit breakers serving your home wiring circuits are intended for switching and protection of your home's wiring from high temperatures caused by excess current higher than the rating of the wire.

While thermal-magnetic circuit breakers are the key element for overload and short-circuit protection of your electrical system, there are potentially dangerous conditions that do not involve over-current.

The following electrical circuit breakers should be utilized to provide further protection.

Basic House Wiring Circuits

circuit-breaker-15amp 15 amp 120 volt circuits
Lighting Living Room
General Purpose Outlets Living Rooms
circuit-breaker-20amp 20 amp 120 volt circuits
120 volt appliance outlets


2-pole-circuit-breaker 30 to 60 amp 240 volt circuits
Large Appliances Electric Clothes Dryer
Electric Water Heater
Air Conditioners
The size of the circuit breaker will depend on the required circuit as specified in the equipment installation manual.
afci-circuit-breaker AFCI Circuits 15 and 20 amp, 120 volt
General Purpose Outlets Bedrooms
Required for bedroom circuits and other areas as specified by the NEC Codes which have been adopted in the specific county or state.


House Wiring and Electrical Circuit Applications


Garage Sub-Panel - 4-Wire Feed

I connected a 60 amp sub panel in my garage,I used underground wire rate 600 volts, which has BX cable covered. I have connected the red and black as main power.the blue wire is taped white,connected to the left side of the grounding bar, and bare wire to the right side,I would like to know if this matters with the bare wire to ground,everything seems to be working fine, no breakers are getting warm , and I tripped a breaker to be sure all is working,your help in this matter would be appreciated,

Thank you AL.

Al, this looks good with one exception. Because this is a sub-panel it requires a 4-wire circuit feed with a dedicated neutral and a dedicated ground, with termination of each going to separate terminals strips or terminal bars. The neutral terminal strip is not connected to the ground at this sub-panel location and is dedicated for neutrals only. The ground wire gets terminated to a separate ground terminal strip that IS connected or bonded to the sub-panel enclosure and is dedicated for ground wires only. The ground wire and neutral wires can be terminated together ONLY at the Main Electrical Panel.

Questions about House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers

Why Does a Circuit Stop Working and the Breaker is Not Tripped?
Ben from Beason, Illinois asks:
I am wondering what could make the power to the center of my house go out. It acts like the breaker is tripping, but when I check it, the breaker is not tripped. It can set for a day or so and I can switch the breaker off and then back on and it stays on for a couple minutes and then goes back off. What could be wrong?

Dave’s Reply:
Great question Ben. Typically with your situation, the circuit breaker that provides power to the center of the house may be faulty and need to be replaced. Circuit power that turns on and off as you have described can be due to the amount of electrical load being increased which can cause a faulty connection to stop the flow of electricity. This can be a serious problem that can cause other components in the electric panel to become damaged s well. I would encourage you to contact a licensed electrician to have this problem evaluated as soon as possible.

More about: Circuits

3Wire and 4Wire Kitchen Range and Stove Circuits Video
Adding Circuits and Upgrading Home Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Adding Kitchen Circuits
Adding Circuits to an Electrical Panel
Adding Circuits to a Sub-Panel
How to Wire Electrical Circuits for a Kitchen
Ground Wires and 240 Volt Circuits
Using Copper and Aluminum Wire for Home Circuits