Category Archives: Electrical Terms and Definitions

Electrical Terms

Alternating current

Electric current that often reverses direction when a change of voltage occurs


American Wire Gauge (AWG)

The standard measurement of electrical wire


Ampacity

The maximum amount of electrical current a conductor or any device can carry before degeneration occurs

 

Ampere

A unit of electrical current

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI)

A circuit breaker that disconnects the power preventing an arc that can cause a fire

 

Arcing

Current that passes through the air between a gap, using the air like a wire

Ballast

An electrical device that limits the amount of current in an electrical circuit therefore, as to impede a constant voltage power supply to a device that would be destroyed otherwise

 

Branch Circuit

An electrical wiring run that is between the breaker or fuse and the outlet, light-fixture or devise it powers

Busbar

A rigid metal piece in an electrical panel or fuse box that distributes electricity to the circuits

Circuit Breaker

An automatic switch designed to safeguard the electrical circuit from overload and damage

 

Conductor

Anything that can carry electrical current A common electrical conductor is copper used for electrical wiring.

Current

An electric charge carried by a flow of electrons over a conductor such as wire

Dimmer

A device used to adjust the light by increasing or decreasing the voltage. Always follow the wattage recommended for the dimmer as, to high of wattage can cause overheating in the dimmer

Direct Current

An electrical charge that flows in a constant direction

Fuse

An over-current protection devise that interrupts the current to the circuit by melting apart

Ground

A conductor to safely run current between a device or circuit to the earth

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) (GFI)

A device that can be in a receptacle or as a breaker that detects excessive or imbalanced electrical current and stops the flow of electricity preventing electrical shock

Insulation

A material that is used to shield wires and cables, because it is a poor conductor of current

 

Junction Box

A  plastic or metal container for housing electrical connections

National Electric Code (NEC)

United States standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment

Neutral

The wire that returns current to the ground at the service panel

OHM

A unit of electrical resistance equal to that of a conductor in which a current of one ampere is produced by a potential of one volt across its terminals

Outlet or receptacle

A point along the circuit where a light or appliance receives it’s connection to the circuit

Overload

When a circuit has carried more current than was intended and can cause overheating and damage to equipment

Panel

The breaker or fuse box that is the main source receiving the power from the utility company to your home

Power

The electric power that is measured in watts or kilowatts

Resistance

The properties of an object or material to dissipate the flow of electricity in a circuit

Resistor

A device designed to have the properties of resistance

Short circuit

A large unintended path of current on a circuit that is above an acceptable level

Single Pole Switch

A switch that turns a receptacle or device on and off

Terminal

A screw or other component that wires are connected to in order to pass electrical current through

 


Three-way Switch

An electrical switch with three terminals and is used to control a light or device from two locations such as a switch on either end of a hallway

Transformer

An electrical device that converts electricity voltage and current to a different voltage and current

Uninterruptable Power Supply

A device designed to provide a constant voltage in spite of power outages and is used in electronic systems such as a computer

Underwriters Laboratories

An independent not for profit organization that performs safety testing on products

Voltage

A measure of the energy of electricity

 

Wattage

An amount of electric power measured in watts and kilowatts required by an appliance or device Amps x Volts = Watts

 



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