Here is a glossary of electrical terminology that will come in handy for you.
Alternating current (AC): Electric current that reverses its flow direction at constant intervals.
60 amp electrical service: Most homes built before the 1960s will have a 60 amp electrical service. Modern homes demand more than 60 amps as our dependence on electrical appliances has increased significantly. If you have bought an older home then you need to upgrade your electrical system immediately as a power overload can cause serious harm to people and property. More over, insurance companies are unlikely to insure your home if it is still running on the 60 amp standard.
100 amp electrical service: You will find a number on your main electrical panel which will tell you the amp capacity. 100 amps is the minimum allowed according to today’s electrical code. The standard available sizes now are 100 amps, 200 amps and 400 amps.
Ampere (A): The unit used to measure an electric current.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI): This is a newly developed electrical device that has been designed to protect your home from fires that can be caused by arcing faults in your electrical wiring. These arcing faults are caused due to corroded or damaged wires. Traditional circuit breakers respond to overloads in the circuit while AFCIs respond to specific arcing conditions. The AFCI will shut off electricity immediately once a fault is detected and reduce the chance of a fire. It is important to note that AFCIs will diminish the chances of fire but will not prevent them entirely.
Circuit breakers/fuses: These devices are installed in the service panel of your home to limit the flow of current through a circuit. The rating of the breaker will determine its maximum flow.
Circuit extensions: This is when you extend or add on to an existing circuit to provide an additional source of power.
Code Corrections: The Code that states what wiring standards and requirements are required to meet safety standards.
Cycle: Electric current which flows in one direction and then reverses its direction.
Demand: This is the size of any electrical load that is expressed in kilowatts that is averaged over a specified period of time.
Direct current (DC): Electric current that flows only in one direction.
Distribution Equipment: A device that provides electricity to multiple connections.
Distribution system: This refers to the system that delivers electricity to customers. This system transforms high voltages to lower, more usable levels.
Electric current: Charged particles (electrons) flowing through a conductor (for electricity, a cable).
Energy: Energy is the source of power that enables your devices and appliances to work.
Energy Saving Devices: Devices that make more efficient use of energy sources while providing heating, cold air or light.
Export load: Energy that is produced beyond the needs of the area is sold to other areas.
Firm power: This is electricity that must be provided as agreed in a contract.
Frequency: This refers to the number of completed cycles that an electric current or voltage goes through in one second.
Generator: This is a machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.
Gigawatt (GW): The unit of electrical power which is equivalent to one billion watts or one million kilowatts.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI): These devices protect people from electric shock. When there is an abnormal amount of current flowing through the wires there is generally a leak and the ground wire is not doing its job. A normal circuit breaker is designed to detect 20 amps but a person can get electrocuted with 100 miliamps. A GFCI is designed to detect even this minute amount of current and trip the breaker to avoid anyone from getting hurt.
Heater: The heat source can be powered by gas or electricity.
High Tech Troubleshooting: This is a procedure performed by a qualified electrician to detect any problems within an electrical system.
Interconnections: These are systems that interconnect one utility’s power system with another.
Kilovolt (kV): The unit of electrical pressure, or force, equivalent to 1,000 volts (V).
Kilowatt (kW): The unit of electrical power equivalent to 1,000 watts (W).
Kilowatt-hour (kWh): This is the unit by which electrical energy is measured. For example, ten 100-W light bulbs switched for on for one hour would use one kilowatt-hour(1,000 W for one hour).
Load: This refers to the amount of electricity required by a system or device.
Load Center: This is the central distribution for your home, which is the source of power for your home. All your circuits will originate from this load centre or service panel. The circuit breakers are also located within this panel.
Low Voltage: This refers to a wiring system that provides a lower voltage to an electrical system or appliance, which is lower than the standard 100 volts. Examples of such devices are door bells or thermostats.
Megawatt (MW): The unit of electrical power which is equal to one million watts or 1,000 kilowatts (kW).
Motors: These are electric devices that are used to move, switch or adjust systems in your home.
Ohm: The unit of measurement of electrical resistance against the flow of electric current.
Peak load: This is the record of the maximum amount of electricity used in a given time period.
Power: This refers to the rate of using electrical energy, usually measured in watts, kilowatts or megawatts.
This is a collection of interconnecting electrical power systems which link together electrical utilities covering a large geographical area.
Receptacles: These are power sources located throughout your home.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: These are sensors used to detect any deadly gases or smoke that might be in the air stream in your home. They are generally mounted on the ceiling or on the wall.
Switches: These are also known as circuit interrupters and they are used to start or stop the flow of electricity.
Surge Arrester: This is a protective device that connects the conductor of an electrical system to the ground to avoid appliances or equipment from fusing due to sudden high voltages of power passing through them.
Surge Protector: This is an appliance that protects your devices from sudden spikes in voltage. The surge protector will regulate the voltage that flows through your appliances. Many power strips now come with their own built in surge protectors.
Tamper Resistant Outlets: These are standard wall outlets that have a shutter mechanism to protect children from getting electrocuted in case they try to put their fingers or any foreign object into a power outlet. These devices are spring loaded so electricity will only flow when there is equal pressure on both shutters, which happens when a plug is inserted.
Thermostat: This is a low voltage electronic device that monitors temperatures inside the home.
Track And Accent Lighting: This allows you to change the lighting to create ambiance. The light can be distributed in different directions.
Transfer Switch: This is used to changed your source of power from one to another.
Transmission system: These are mainly towers and conductors that transport electricity in bulk form from a source of supply to local distribution centers. Electricity is usually transported via transmission lines in amounts ranging from 66 kV to 500 kV.
Volts or Voltage: This is a measure of the rate or force of electricity.
Watts: This is used to measure power. Watts is referred to the rate at which electricity is used.
Wiring: This is what your power distribution network is called. It is a collection of receptacles, network of wires, conduits and switches that supply power to where it is needed.