Electrical Questions Frequently Asked in Sydney
What is the difference between 3 phase and single-phase electricity?
A single-phase circuit is an alternating-current using only one, sine wave type, current flow. A three-phase circuit consists of three different sine wave current flows, different in phase by 120 degrees from each other.
Single phase: a circuit that consists of three wires – live, neutral, and ground (earth). The main breaker in a single phase system is a single pole breaker, resembling the others in the panel, only with a higher capacity.
Three phase: a circuit where the main breaker switches off three poles. For most home owners this is the equivalent of having 3 separate main breakers that are divided among the circuits of the home. In most homes there are not many devices that run on three phase electricity. However, examples may include a three phase central air conditioner, a three phase oven, a 3 phase swimming pool pump, or a large 3 phase hot water boiler.
Do I need a surge protector?
Most people are welßl acquainted with the normal surges that cause permanent damage to appliances in a blink of an eye. But few people are aware of the smaller surges that are going on all the time. Unlike the larger surges that wreck havoc all at once, these smaller surges can slowly wear out the wiring insulation and electronic circuitry in your appliances, causing them to operate improperly and wear out prematurely. A good quality surge protector can do a lot to protect your computer as well as other appliances such as TV, amplifier.
Does air conditioner cost less for heating than using regular electric room heaters?
Electric heaters work by converting electric current into heat. These heaters come in a wide variety of types and designs (baseboard heaters, radiant, convection space heaters...). All convert almost all of the electric current to usable heat and are generally considered to be 98-100 percent efficient. However, it is usually considered one of the most expensive means of heating.
Air-conditioning units use a heat pump system to heat your home. Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from one place to another. During the winter, the heat is directed inside your home while the cold air is thrown outside. The reverse is done in the summer to cool your home off. This form of heating is much more economical.
Sometimes the main breaker jumps but none of the smaller ones do. Why?
A basic, standard electrical panel found in many homes includes, in addition to other parts, a main breaker, and other "line" breakers. The main breaker supplies electricity to the line breakers, and is rated at a higher current rating (usually 25 or 40 amps in a standard one phase system). The other breakers supply electricity to the various lines around your home (usually rated between 10–20 amps).
Let’s assume, that your main breaker is rated at 25 amps, and you have 5 other breakers rated at 10 amps each. Now let us suppose that you are using on each line (each 10 amp breaker) only 8 amps. Each 10 amp breaker, having only 8 amps going through it, would be fine. They would have no reason to trip. But if you add up what each breaker is using, you get 40 amps. This is way over the amount that your main breaker is rated for, and will therefore cause it to trip.
What do the colors of the plastic insulation mean on wires?
They are designed to indicate their use. In Australia, the hot (live) wires carrying current at full voltage are usually red or brown. Neutral wires are usually black or blue. Ground wires are usually yellow with a green stripe.
Save Electricity in Sydney
There many tips to save electricity. You should remember to follow because they will save you money. You also save the resources of our planet.
- Turn off the lights, computers, TV when you don't need them on.
- Use energy saving bulbs
- Don’t leave electrical appliances on standby
- Avoid using tumble dryer as much as possible
- Turn on washing machine only between 8 PM - 7 AM
Many of us with use the remote to switch off the TV or stereo, leaving the appliance running on standby.
The appliance is still using up electricity and wastes a considerable amount of energy. By switching off at the main power button, or even the socket, you could be saving both energy and money.
Items left on standby use up to 85% of the energy they would use if fully switched on. An extra million tonnes of carbon will be released into the atmosphere through this power wastage.
Electric tumble dryers are commonly the second biggest energy user in the home, after the fridge. They are obviously used less frequently, but still use a huge amount of electricity when switched on.
In most homes, about 10-15% of the electricity bill is for lighting so energy saving light bulbs can cut your costs considerably. Traditional bulbs waste a lot of energy by turning it into heat but energy saving bulbs work in the same way as fluorescent lights, the tubes coating glows brightly as an electric current passed through gas in the tube.
Clothes-drying is a very energy-intensive activity. To remove a kilogram of water from clothes in an electric dryer uses up to one kilowatt-hour of electricity.
Older washing machines leave around a kilogram of water per kilogram of clothing at the end of the wash program. The best performing front loaders with high spin speeds leave half as much water in the clothes – halving the drying time on the clothes line or in the dryer.
Drying clothes naturally uses no commercial energy. Indeed, even partially drying clothes will mean a shorter drying time in a clothes dryer, saving on money and emissions.