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Utah Electrical Experts has experience in small residential electrical tasks to large solar projects # Electrical Terms in Our Lives

There are tons of electrical terms in these days and some of them might be confusing for you. In this article of ours we have listed and defined some common and interesting electrical terms for you. Whether if you are about to hire an electrician and want to learn some terms before discussing with him or just interested in electrical terms you are in the right place.
##### ABSORBED GLASS MAT
A newer type of battery construction which started to popularize in 1980’s, Absorbed Glass Mat, also referred as AGM, uses saturated absorbent glass mats instead of liquid or gelled electrolyte. It is much more costly than the flooded (liquid) type but provides better reliability.
##### ACTIVE CIRCUIT AREA
Active circuit area is defined as the area where all functional circuit elements are present.
##### ALTERNATING CURRENT (AC)
An alternating current (Shortened as AC) is an electric current that reverses direction regularly and has a constant change of magnitude with time.
##### ALTERNATOR
It is a machine that transforms electrical power from mechanical power into AC.
##### AMMETER
A device used for the measurement of current in a circuit. There are also ammeter types which are used to measure small currents which are called microammeters or milliammeters.
##### AMPACITY
Ampacity is the current in amperes that can be carried continuously by a conductor under specified conditions of use without breaching its temperature rating.
##### AMPERE (A)
A measurement unit used for the magnitude of an electrical current flow in a circuit.
##### AMPERE-HOUR (AH)
The certain amount of Ampere used in an hour.
##### AMPLIFIER
A system which receives and input signal and then produces a replicate of it with a greater magnitude.
##### APPARENT POWER
Current times applied voltage in an ac circuit. The measurement unit for it is VA (volt-amps).
##### ARMATURE
The part of an electrical system that transforms electrical energy into mechanical energy or the opposite.
##### AZIMUTH
An angle determined clockwise from the north between the true north and the projection of a surface normal to the horizontal plane. 180 degrees azimuth, as applied to a Photovoltaic array, means that the array is facing south.
When every one of the phases in a three phased system is equally loaded, it is a balanced load.
##### BATTERY CELL
Batteries are devices that we encounter everyday which stores energy. They consist of negative and positive plates, electrolyte and a separator.
##### BUCK
Voltage lowering.
##### CAPACITANCE
A body’s capability for holding an electrical charge. The letter “C” is the commonly used for it and the measurement unit for capacitance is in Farads.
##### CAPACITOR
A component in an electrical field that can store energy, has capacitance.
##### CATEGORY 5 CABLE
Produced by four pair of twisted copper wires, these cables are used for rapid telephone and ethernet connections in buildings.
##### CIRCUIT
A path which is conductive where an electrical charge flow. Has types such as parallel, series or including both types.
##### CIRCUIT BREAKER
A switch, which is operated automatically and used to interrupt a short circuit or other fault. They must be closed and re-opened after diagnosing and solving the problem in order to restore service.
##### CLOSING TIME
The required time for a circuit breaker to close, starting with time of energizing of the closing circuit in the circuit breaker before contact is made.
##### CONDUCTOR
Whatever material that allows current to flow through.
##### CORONA DISCHARGE
An electrical discharge caused by the ionization of a substance such as air surrounding an electrically charged conductor is called a corona discharge.
##### CURRENT (I)
Electrical charge movements in a conductor. It is measured in amperes.
##### CURRENT TRANSFORMER
By sending a lower representative current to a measuring system, transformers measure the amount of current flow in a circuit.
##### CYCLE
From negative to positive and back, the change of poles in an alternating current.
##### DEPTH OF DISCHARGE
The amount of nominal capacity taken out during each discharge cycle from a battery or a cell. It is expressed in percent. Less then %10 depth of discharge is considered “Shallow”, more than %50 percent of discharge is considered “Deep”.
##### DEMAND
A related quantities or powers average value over a certain amount of time.
##### DIELECTRIC
Materials which do not let electric current to flow freely are called dielectric.
##### DIELECTRIC CONSTANT
A quantity describing the dielectric strength of a material.
##### DIELECTRIC STRENGTH
Without breaking down or insulating property failures, the maximum voltage that an insulation system overcome.
##### DIELECTRIC WITHSTAND
Without puncture or occurrence of flashover, the maximum voltage that an insulation system overcome.
##### DIODE
A circuit element which consists of two terminals with a favored direction of current flow
##### DIRECT CURRENT (DC)
An electrical current where the electrons only flow in one direction, in contrary of alternating current.
##### ELECTRICAL HAZARD
Electrical issued hazards which may be dangerous due to equipment failure or contacting an electrically charged area.
##### ELECTROLYTE
An electric current carrying medium in form of ions which may be solid or liquid.
##### ELECTROMOTIVE FORCE
The electrical potential difference between two points which may be produced by a generator or battery.
##### ELECTRON
An atomic particle rotating around the nucleus of an atom while carrying a negative charge of electricity.
##### ELECTRON THEORY
The theory that explains the exchange of electrons between atoms of a conductor and electricity nature.
##### EMBEDDED GENERATION
A distribution system connected generation that is likely to be at low voltage rather than high voltage.
Unit used for capacitance.
##### FAULT CURRENT
The current that flows as an outcome of short-circuit situation.
##### FERRO RESONANCE
When a circuit that contains nonlinear inductance gets fed from another source having series capacitance and the circuit is exposed to kind of a disturbance, ferro resonance occurs. This is a risky situation where overcurrent and overvoltage situations may occur damaging the equipment and harming people nearby.
##### FREQUENCY
Expressed in Hertz (Hz), the rate where the current changes direction in alternative current systems.
##### FULGURATE
When a current limiting fuse operates, a glass-like structure is formed around it and that if defined as fulgurate.
##### FUSE
A device which interrupts the circuit and has a melting point designed for safety measures. They protect equipment and prevent harmful situations in case of problems.
##### GENERATOR
Generators are generally fuel-run machines that turn mechanical energy into electrical energy.
##### GROUND
As an electrical term, ground means to connect a component into to earth.
##### GROUND FAULT
It is an unwanted connection between an electrical potential and ground.
##### GROUND FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS (GFCI)
These are rapid-acting circuit breakers which are designed to shut off electrical power if there is an occurrence of a ground fault.
##### GUY STRAIN INSULATOR
Guy strain insulators are generally made of porcelain and serve for the purpose to electrically isolate a part of a down guy from another one.
##### HENRY
A unit used for measurement of inductance, found by Joseph Henry and named after him.
##### HERTZ (Hz)
In AC (Alternating Current) it is the change of positive and negative poles. A unit used for measuring frequency.
##### HID
Shortened version for High Intensity Discharge. Commonly used for lights and bulbs, where light is created by sending a discharge between two electrodes and mostly through an ionized gas or plasma.
##### IMPEDANCE
The sum of the force against the flow of current in an alternating current. Usually expressed in ohms.
##### INDUCED CURRENT
Current in a conductor that occurs due to a nearby electromagnetic field.
##### INDUCED VOLTAGE
Voltage in a circuit that occurs due to a nearby electromagnetic field.
##### INDUCTANCE
Inductance is defined as an electrical conductor’s tendency to resist a change in the current flowing through it. Henry (H) is the measurement unit for it.
##### INDUCTOR
A component in a circuit that is a coil and stores energy in a magnetic field. Inductance is relative to the number of turns in coil.
##### INSULATION
A material, which is non-conductive used on a conductor for separating conducting materials in a circuit. There are insulated cables being produced by these non-conductive materials.
##### INSULATOR
The material that does not allow free current flow. These materials can be seen a lot in our daily lives. Rubber, glass, most of the plastic, mineral wool etc. are all insulative materials possessing high resistance.
##### INVERTER
A converting apparatus which is designed to convert direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC).
##### IRON LOSS
Iron loss is the loss that occurs in an unloaded transformer.
##### KILOWATT-HOUR (kWh)
Multiplication of Watt-Hour by 1000. Watt is the unit for power, and time is defined in hours. Used for calculating electrical energy consumption.
##### KILOWATT-HOUR METER
The device designed for measuring the usage of electrical energy in kWh.
##### KILOWATT (KW)
Watt times 1000. Commonly used for electrical energy calculations.
##### LED
Abbreviation for “Light Emitting Diode”. Commonly used in lights in our homes and surroundings.
##### LIGHT LOSS FACTOR (LLF)
The factor used for luminance calculation under certain conditions and a period of time.
Every kind of energy consuming device, machine, systems.
When there is a sudden loss of load in a system this might cause the generating equipment to be over-frequency. There are load rejection tests available to diagnose and solve these problems.
##### LUMEN
Lumen is the measurement unit used for light energy or light flux. The output in our lamps at home are measured in lumens.
##### LUX
The “international system of units” unit for luminance. One lumen per square meter is the equivalent of one lux.
##### MELT TIME
The required time for the melting of a fuse element. It is also known as “Fuse Melt Time”.
##### MUTUAL INDUCTION
Mutual Induction happens when the voltage in a second coil is caused by a change in current in one coil.
##### MW
Abbreviation for “Mega Watt”. A watt multiplied by million.
##### NEUTRAL CONDUCTOR
In circuits which are multiphase, it is the conductor to carry unbalanced current in the circuit. In a single-phase circuit, it is the conductor that is used to return a current path.
##### NOMINAL VOLTAGE
To have a safe, convenient design according to the voltage class, a nominal value is assigned to a system.
##### OHM
The unit used for the measurement of resistance. It is equal to resistance in a circuit with a current flow of one ampere and a voltage of one volt. The Greek letter (Ω) is used as abbreviation.
##### OHM’S LAW
Ohm’s law is the law which explains the relation between voltage, resistance and current. It suggests that Voltage is the product of current and resistance.
##### OHMMETER
A device which measures resistance in a circuit in terms of ohms.
##### OPEN CIRCUIT
When a circuit is broken due to a broken wire or an open switch there will be no electrical current flow between terminals. Short circuit is the opposite for open circuit.
The sum of effective resistance of circuits and other systems connected to it across output terminals.
##### PARALLEL CIRCUIT
When a circuit is not only in series, and there are multiple ways for current to flow through it is a parallel circuit. The total voltage of the “ways” is equal to the full voltage of the circuit.
##### PHOTOVOLTAIC
To express in a simple way, it is the conversion of light into electricity. Photovoltaic cells are also called as solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity.
##### PIEZOELECTRICITY
Occurrence of electric polarization in a substance which happens due to pressure (mechanical stress application).
##### POLARITY
A term used to define the positive and negative ends of an electrical mechanism like a battery or the ends of a magnet.
##### POTENTIAL
It is the amount of work required to move a unit charge from a certain point to another against an electric field.
##### POWER
Rate for the transfer of electrical energy done by an electrical circuit. The measurement unit for it is Watts.
##### POWER FACTOR
It is the percentage of the energy used compared to the flow of energy through the wires.
##### PROTECTIVE RELAY
Protective relay devices trip circuit breakers when a fault is detected for safety measurements.
##### RATED CAPACITY (BATTERY)
The value of Amp-Hours that can be delivered by a battery under specified conditions.
##### REACTIVE POWER
Reactive Power, which is measured in VARS, is a quantity of electricity that is designed to sustain and establish the magnetic fields of an alternate current equipment.
##### RECTIFIER
Rectifiers are electrical devices which can convert an alternating current into direct current by allowing the one directional flow of a current through it.
##### REGULATOR
A device which allows the control of voltage of a circuit by raising and lowering the voltage.
##### RELAY
An electrically operated coil switch where a small amount of current is used to control a larger current.
##### RELUCTANCE
Defined as the resistance against force in a magnetic field that is offered by a magnetic circuit.
##### RESISTANCE
It is measured in ohms and defined as the opposition against current flow.
##### RESISTOR
Resistors are devices generally a production of carbon or wire which has a resistance against current flow.
##### RIPPLE
Ripple is the magnitude of alternative current fluctuation after filtering, in a direct current signal. Usually defined as a percent of rated output.
##### ROTOR
The part which rotates in a machine such as motor, alternator or generator. Rotation occurs due to magnetic field and windings which creates torque around the rotor’s axis and causes it to rotate.
##### SELF-DISCHARGE
Over an amount of time, a batteries or cells state of charge decreases because of internal electro-chemical losses. This is defined as “self -discharge”.
##### SELF INDUCTION
The occurrence of voltage in a coil where there is no change in current.
##### SEMICONDUCTOR
A substance that may perform as an insulator or electrical conductor depending on some external conditions or chemical variations. Germanium, silicon, gallium arsenide or cadmium selenide are example semiconductor materials.
##### SERIES-PARALLEL CIRCUIT
A circuit type where both series and parallel connections are present. Flow does not flow from only one path. SERIES CIRCUIT The type of a circuit where flow is going through from only one path. Every current in the system flows through all the loads.
##### SERVICE
The equipment and conductors that are used for delivering energy to the desired system from an electrical supply.
##### SHORT CIRCUIT
The occurrence of a load when an ungrounded conductor contacts another grounded object or conductor.
##### SIDEWALL PRESSURE
Sidewall Pressure is defined as the force applied on a cable that is being dragged around a bend.
##### SOLID STATE CIRCUIT
Instead of vacuum tube or mechanical circuits, circuits that rely on semiconductors are called solid state circuits.
##### SWITCHGEAR
The term switchgear is used for a composition of circuit breakers or fuses, disconnect switches that are used to protect, provide isolation and control electrical equipment in an electrical power system.
##### TRANSISTOR
A device which enables or disables current flow between two terminals based on the values of current or voltage delivered to another third terminal.
##### TRUE POWER
Without getting into complex definitions, True Power can simply be defined as the actual power consumed by an equipment to do the necessary work in an AC Circuit. It is also referred as Actual Power, Useful Power, Watt-full Power or Real Power.
##### THUMPER
A system, which is high voltage and used for the detection of an underground cable fault. A high voltage is applied by the system to the fault cable with a subsequent discharge to the ground at the fault site.
##### ULTRA HIGH VOLTAGE (UFV)
Systems where voltage is more than 800,000 Volts (or 800kV) are considered ultra-high voltage systems.
##### UNIT PROTECTION
A safety mechanism that is configured to function within a specifically specified zone of the power system only under abnormal conditions.
##### VACUUM CIRCUIT BREAKERS
These circuit breakers use vacuum interrupters in-order to shut off the flowing current and extinguish the electrical arc.
##### VARS
A unit for reactive power measurement. Vars may be viewed either as the imaginary component of the apparent power or as the power that flows through the reactive load, where voltage and current are represented in terms of volts and amps.
##### VARIABLE RESISTOR
An adjustable resistor which has different value ranges.
##### VOLT-AMPERE (VA)
It is the product of Voltage and the current sustaining an electric load.
##### VOLT (V)
The unit used for the measurement of Voltage, difference for electrical potential.
##### VOLTAGE
The difference for electrical potential between two points.
##### VOLTMETER
A device used for potential difference measurement.
##### VR CABLE
Cable used for Virtual Reality (VR) which is getting common in our lives.
##### WATT-HOUR (WH)
Watt-Hour is an energy unit which is equal to the power consumption of a watt for an hour.
##### WATT (W)
The SI unit for electrical power.
##### WATTMETER
A device made for measuring the electric power in terms of watts.
##### WAVEFORM
A graphic which represents the amount of change in amplitude over a specified time for electrical cycles.
##### WEBER
Unit of magnetic flux.
##### WIRE LUBRICANT
Wire lubricants are chemical compounds which are used to reduce tension in wire rope cables.
##### ZIGZAG TRANSFORMER
Transformers which are occasionally used for grounding, Zigzag transformers are multi-winding and three phase transformers.
##### Learning Electrical Terms is useful!
Learning these electrical terms will become handy when you get an electrical problem and need to discuss it with an expert. It will make things easier for both sides by leading to an easier communication and do not forget that knowledge is power! We hope that you enjoyed our article about electrical terms and make sure to check our other articles. ###### Justin Therrien

Justin is passionate electrician with 12 years experience in many small residential electrical to large solar projects the Salt Lake City Utah area.

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