Glossary of Electrical Terms

A

Amp or Ampere
The measurement of electrical current flowing through a conductor past a given point in one second. It is analogous to cubic feet of water flowing past a given point in one second. Another analogy is gallons per minute.

B

Breaker or Circuit Breaker
An automatic switching device that disconnects power to a circuit when current or heat exceeds a certain level for a certain amount of time.

C

Circuit
The actual or intended path that electricity follows.

Conductor
An electrical conductor is something that allows the flow of electrical current. It is usually a wire made of metal. While silver is the best conductor, copper, aluminum, steel, brass, and gold are also excellent conductors. Water is also an excellent conductor of electricity.

Current
The rate of flow of electrons in a circuit, measured in amps.

E

Electricity
Electricity is a form of energy that is carried through wires. It is the flow of electrons from atom to atom in a conductor.

F

Fuse
A replaceable device that interrupts current to a circuit by melting apart. It must then be replaced using a fuse of the same size and rating and after correcting the reason for the cause of the failure.

G

GFI or Ground - fault Interrupter
A GFI is a type of receptacle or device to prevent electrocution. They are used primarily in kitchens and bathrooms. They do not prevent electrical shocks, only deadly shocks.

Ground
The earth or any object that makes an electrical connection with the earth.

Grounded
Anything touching an electrical current and ground at the same time is "grounded".

I

Insulator
Any material that strongly resists the flow of electricity through it. Insulators are usually made of glass, rubber, porcelain, or plastic.

L

Load
Anything that consumes electrical energy such as lights, heaters, and electrical appliances.

Lumens
Lumens are the amount of light emitted from a light bulb. More lumens equal brighter light.

O

Ohm
A unit of the measurement of resistance in a circuit.

P

Power
The rate at which electrical energy is transferred by an electrical circuit measured in watts.

R

Receptacle
A receptacle is an outlet or plug.

Resistance
Resistance is the opposition to the passage of electrical current. It is analogous to the friction experienced by water when flowing through a pipe. Resistance is measured in ohms.

T

Transformer
A device that either raises or reduces the voltage of electricity.

V

Volt
A unit measure of voltage.

Voltage
A unit of electrical force. It is analogous to water pressure in pounds per square inch.

W

Wattage, Watts
Wattage is the rate of electricity usage. The lower the watts, the lower the electrical usage.

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