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Service Drops  110, 220 480V

In an electric power distribution grid, a service drop is an overhead electrical line running from a utility pole, to a customer's building or other premises. It is the point where electric utilities provide power to their customers. The customer connection to an underground distribution system is usually called a "service lateral". Conductors of a service drop or lateral are owned and maintained by the utility company.

At the customer's premises, the wires usually enter the building through a weatherhead that protects against entry of rain and snow, and drop down though conduit to an electric meter which measures and records the power used for billing purposes, then enters the main service panel. The utility's portion of the system ends, and the customer's wiring begins, at the output socket of the electric meter. The service panel will contain a "main" fuse or circuit breaker, which controls all of the electrical current entering the building at once, and a number of smaller fuses/breakers, which protect individual branch circuits. There is always a main shutoff switch to turn off all power; when circuit breakers are used this is provided by the main circuit breaker.

Commercial and industrial service drops can be much bigger, and are usually three phase. In the USA, common services are 120Y/208 (three 120V circults 120 degrees out of phase, with 208V line to line), 240V three phase, and 480V three phase. 600V three phase is common in Canada, and 380-415V or 690V three phase is found in many other countries. Generally, higher voltages are used for heavy industrial loads, and lower voltages for commercial applications.


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