Understanding Electrical Systems at Home

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Learn the basic principle of a residential electrical system to better understand how your home is powered with this tutorial.

This video is designed to be a learning support to help train people to become electricians. It's the first in our free program Electricity for Everyone which can be found in full on our website

This simple video will take you through the connection to the electrical distribution network, the electrical cabinet and the distribution circuit to explain how a residential electrical system works.

Translated by Anne Duthoit

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In this video, we will discover the principle of a residential electrical system.

An electrical system responds to specific needs and established safety and protection norms.

In this presentation, we will use an electrical panel, lightbulbs and domestic appliances.

This presentation will be separated into three parts, as set out below.


The system is usually supplied through a distribution network.

The first protective system you will encounter is general, at the level of the subscriber’s terminal: it is limited to the current subscribed to


The electrical panel or box connects the network input to the residential electrical circuits.

It consists of the network

- the network supply

- a residual current device for the users

- main and individual circuit breakers, which limit the load of the current in each circuit and protect against fire

To learn more about main and individual circuit breakers, please watch the video "How to Protect an Electrical Circuit”


The distribution circuit is divided into two parts.

There is the lighting circuit, which includes the cables or electrical wires, one or several on/off switches and one or several lights.

And then there is the second part, the outlets, or plug sockets, which include the cables or electrical wires and one or several electrical outlets.

Now you know how a residential electrical system is set up.

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