Top 10 Electrical Terms

October 17, 2013 by Valerie Griffiths

Does electrical lingo leave you feeling a bit lost? You’re not alone! Here, we break down 10 electrical terms you need to know.

1. Amps – Amps measure electrical current. Amp is short for ampere. More amps = more electricity flowing. Your electrician may recommend a service upgrade if your electrical needs surpass your home’s capacity. Older homes often have a 60-amp service, compared to 200-amp services in new homes. The more power you use, the more amps you need.

2. Circuits – A circuit is the looped path in which an electrical current flows. Circuits direct electricity from your home’s main panel through to the lights and appliances.

3. Conductors – Conductors are materials such as copper that freely transfer electricity to and from a device. Silver is a great conductor, but the wires in your home are likely to be copper as it is much more affordable.

4. Current – Current refers to electrical current, or the flow of an electrical charge within a circuit. Before your electrician begins a project in your home, they will turn off the electrical current to the area being worked on. This important safety precaution eliminates the risk of shock.

5. LED – LEDs are light emitting diodes, or semiconductors that light up when a current passes through them. LEDs are known for being energy efficient and long lasting. For more information on LEDs for your home or business, click here.

6. Energy efficient – Energy efficient products require less energy to operate. They reduce pollution, lower energy costs and last longer. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, most energy efficient appliances last 10-20 years. And Energy Star reports that efficient light bulbs last six times longer than traditional bulbs. Choose an electrician who is committed to energy efficiency and can help you make informed, money-saving decisions.

7. Wattage – watts measure electrical power released by circuit per second. This tells us the amount of energy an appliance uses. A 40-watt light bulb is more efficient than a 60-watt bulb. Choosing bulbs with lower wattage is an easy way to save energy in your home.

8. Circuit Breaker – Circuit breakers measure the electrical current flow in a building. If it becomes too high, the breaker cuts the power to reduce the risk of fire and other dangers. Circuit breakers are crucial for safety, and it’s important to know where the electrical service panel is located in your home. From there, you can flip the breaker back to the “On” position to restore power if it needs to be reset.

9. Transformer – Transformers transfer energy from one circuit to another, while altering the voltage (or strength of electricity). Power lines are electrical transformers that transfer high voltage power from the plant and make it usable for your home or business. The electricity that powers your appliances has passed through many electrical transformers on its journey to your home.

10. Fuse – An electrical fuse plugs into a fuse box connected to a building’s wiring. Fuses contain a piece of metal that melts when overheated, quickly interrupting the electrical flow. This prevents overload and danger. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the fuse box to quickly and easily change a blown fuse.

Don’t let electrical terminology overwhelm you. Go forward with a better understanding of the electricity in your home!