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Glossary of Electrical Terms
Electrician—a professionally certified tradesman who is licensed to install, service or repair electrical wiring and electrical components for buildings, machines, powerlines, and other equipment based on a specific certification class.
Electrical Apprentice—an individual, who is learning to become an electrician, is registered with a trade apprenticeship authority as a student, and is sponsored by an electrical contractor who provides job site training and experience.
Commercial electrician—an electrician who performs electrical work for commercial buildings.
Industrial electrician—an electrician who performs electrical work primarily in an industrial environment.
Residential electrician—an electrician who performs electrical work for residential buildings.
Electrical contractor—a licensed person or business that employs electricians, who can legally perform electrical work related to designing, installing, and maintaining electrical systems.
Electrical Apprenticeship—a period of training before becoming a licensed electrician which includes 4 levels of theory and exams, 6000 hours of supervised work experience and usually takes 4 years to complete.
Handyman—a person who is never legally allowed to do regulated electrical work, but can perform other general household tasks and repairs.
Licensed, Bonded & Insured Company—a contracting company that has acquired the necessary certification and insurances for the benefit and protection of their clientele.
Electrical Code—regulations which are revised or updated every 3 years for designing, installing and repairing electrical installations.
Receptacle—an electrical outlet in which devices can be plugged into.
Electrical Plug—the end of an electrical cord that is inserted into the receptacle or outlet
Extension Cord—a length of electric cord that can be used to provide temporary power to an appliance that is located too far from a receptacle.
Rewiring—to replace existing wiring in a building, appliance, or device with new wires.
GFCI protection—Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection shuts off electrical power to an outlet to prevent dangerous exposure to electrocution.
Arc Fault protection—protection that provides both series and parallel arc fault protection to the entire branch circuit.
Arc—the spark or electrical discharge created when an electrical current leaps across the gap between electrodes.
Surge protector—a device designed to protect appliances or other electrical devices from voltage spikes.
Load—the component of a circuit that consumes power or energy.
Knob-and-tube wiring—an early standardized form of ungrounded electrical wiring that was commonly used in North American buildings from the 1880’s to the 1940’s.
Aluminum wiring—a type of electrical wiring used extensively during mid 60’s to late 70’s but now used only in very specific applications.
Copper —a type of electrical wiring now considered to be the standard in most modern applications.
Electrical Insulation—the dielectric covering on electrical wiring and conductors.
Electrical panel—a service box that contains circuit breakers which distribute electrical current to circuits throughout the building.
Circuit breaker—an automatically operated electrical switch that protects an electrical circuit from damage due to excess current from an overload or short circuit condition.
Fuse Panel—a service box that contains fuses
Fuse—a circuit interrupting device with an internal link that is designed to melt or break if a circuit exceeds the rating of the fuse.
Ampere (amp)—a unit of measurement for an electrical current.
Circuit—the path that electricity flows through.
Conductor—any material that allows electricity to flow through it.
Semiconductor—materials that are neither good conductors nor good insulators.
Insulator—any material that resists the flow of an electrical current.
Current—the rate at which electricity flows through a circuit.
Generator—a machine that turns mechanical energy into electricity.
Ground—an electrical connection with the earth that creates zero energy potential.
Grounded—anything touching an electrical current and the ground at the same time.
Grounded conductor—a circuit conductor that has been intentionally grounded.
Substation—a collection of electrical equipment that is designed to raise, lower, and regulate electrical voltages.
Transformer—a device designed to raise or lower the voltage of electricity.
Volt—a unit of electrical force or pressure.
Voltage—the force that causes electricity to flow through a circuit.
Volt Meter—a device used for measuring the voltage of an electrical current.
Kilovolt—a unit of pressure that is equal to one thousand volts.
Voltage drop—a drop in pressure in an electrical circuit due to conductor resistance.
Amp Meter—a device used for measuring an electrical current’s flow in amperes.
Amplitude—the maximum value of a pulse or wave of an electrical current.
Amplifier—a device used to increase power and voltage.
Inductor—a coil of wire wrapped around an iron core.
Ohm—a unit of measurement used to define the resistance of a material to an electrical current.
Ohm Meter—a device used to measure the ohms of an electrical current.
Open circuit—when a circuit is broken and the flow of current through the circuit is interrupted.
Watt—a unit for measuring the electrical power used in a circuit.
Watt Meter—a device used to measure a circuit’s electrical power usage in watts.
Kilowatt—a unit of electrical power that is equal to one thousand watts.
Alternating current (AC)—electric current that periodically reverses direction.
Direct current (DC)—electric current that only flows in one direction.
Stripping—removing insulation from a conductor or wire.
Dead—free from any electrical connection or charge.
Leakage—electrical current escaping from the circuit.
Output—current, voltage, or power delivered by a device or circuit.
Hertz—a unit of measurement for frequency.
Kelvin—the measurement of the colour temperature found in the light spectrum