Homeruns, Feeders, Service Entrance Conductors, & Branch Circuits
Often it’s difficult to understand what certain wires are called when you begin your path in the electrical trade. Here are some terms and what they mean.
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As an apprentice, I remember always shaking my head trying to understand what the difference between a service-entrance conductor and a feeder was. It didn’t make sense to me that some branch circuits look like feeders, and on top of it all, why do some of them get called homeruns?
Well a homerun is a specific term that means “comes from a breaker.” A lot of receptacles and light switches have jumpers between them, but only the wire/cable that goes from the first device in the circuit, back to the electrical panel, is called the homerun. This is to help identify it as the conductor that is bringing the incoming power – which is very useful for both wiring and troubleshooting the circuit.
A service-entrance conductor is a wire that comes into the service. It connects the utility power to the meter and main disconnect out at the service. In that service panel you’ll most likely have breakers, which will have either feeders or branch circuits leaving from them. Feeder describes a wire or cable assembly that leaves a breaker and goes to another breaker. We call the wire running between two panels a feeder for this reason. This is not always the case, sometimes there are feeders run from a breaker to a disconnect, then down to a piece of equipment, then back up to another breaker in a new panel. These are all still considered feeders.
A branch circuit though, is any circuit that branches off to multiple devices. Then a multi-wire branch circuit is simply when multiple circuits are run together in the same raceway or cable assembly – often sharing a neutral (grounded) and ground (grounding) conductor.
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