Electrical Definitions
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Be certain to also read the article (on
our sister website 'Wiring Done Right'  will open in new
window / tab) 'ELECTRICITY,
WHAT IS IT?' where some electrical terms are explained in
a very different way. 
Definitions
In the
articles on this website...
In layman's
terms we usually refer to electrical wiring as having a hot wire, a
neutral wire, and a ground.
Ungrounded
conductor in layman's terms is the hot conductor. Ungrounded in that is
does not cross earth ground until passing through an item using
electrical power such as a light fixture, appliance and so on, so that
wire is ungrounded as such and the most dangerous to work with if the
circuit is live, as anything touching it could be used as a passage way
to the return path including yourself. I will get more into the
dangers of working with electricity in the electrical safety and
electrical dangers articles on this website.
Also
electricians who want to be highly technical, or technically correct in
the language may refer to ungrounded conductor (hot) in the switch
portion of the circuit as the ungrounded conductor leg (hot), or
switched ungrounded conductor (hot).
Grounded
conductor in layman's terms is the neutral. By true technical definition
a neutral serves two ungrounded conductors.
The layman term
ground is technically an equipment grounding conductor an extra measure
of safety built into modern wiring.
Bellow is a more
detailed definitions list originally written by my long time partner
(Warren Goodrich) in making previous self help websites, unfortunately
he is now deceased, but I do not think I could write it any other
way, his knowledge and expertise would be hard to come by after all he
served as an electrical and building inspector for many years as well as
a renowned teacher on this subject.
Definitions and Symbols
AMPS
= 746 watts times horse power and then divided by volts.
C
= Roman numeral for one hundred.
CM = Circular mill which is the cross sectional area of a conductor.
D = Distance which is the amount of length from the power source and in
some calculations plus the amount of length for the return path
combined.
E = Volts.
EMF = electromotive force or [voltage].
ETC.
= “and so on , and so on”.
Ground = A loose terminology that could be referring to either grounding
or grounded.
Grounded = neutral conductors which are normally current carrying
conductors.
Grounding = Bonding ground conductors or earth ground conductors.
GFCI = “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter”. A device that in generic
terms monitors the hot conductor, the grounded conductor, and the
grounding conductor. The device monitors the electrical circuit that it
is to protect for a leakage between these lines with a limit of a
maximum leakage of 5 milliamps, or .005 of one amp.
In generic terms the GFCI was discovered, and utilized in our wiring
method to protect accidental loss of life, due to shock hazards.
The GFCI has been very successful by all available statistics at saving
many lives since it’s conception and use began. When “us”old folks? were
kids, and if a radio dropped in our bathtub while we were in it, we most
likely were dead! Now with the GFCI protection device we might have a
half a chance at survival. A GFCI is so sensitive that a leakage of .005
of one amp between the grounded conductor and hot conductor, or between
the hot conductor and the grounding conductor, or even between the
grounded conductor {white} and the grounding conductor {green} is
designed to kick out the device, and deenergize the circuit that GFCI
is to protect.
Horsepower = a measurement of mechanical power that a motor produces. In
electrical, one horse power equals 746 watts. In mechanical terms one
horse power is produced when 33,000 pounds are lifted one foot in one
minute. Horse power represents the work being done by the output of an
electric or internal combustion style motor.
Hot = A current carrying conductor with voltage present.
I = Load in amperes which is the resistance multiplied by the voltage.
Input = What you pay for
Input = In another term input can be a Primary of a transformer
K = Short for kilo in Greek meaning/one thousand. Remember this term for
electrical terminology. Example kilowatt / KVA / “K”= a terminology of
conductor resistance which is the resistance of a conductor multiplied
by the circular mill and then divided by one thousand, normally found in
a voltage drop calculation.
Kilowatt = Units of watts in calculation of one thousand.
M = Roman numeral for one thousand. Not normally found in electrical
terminology.
Megawatt = units of watts in calculation of one million.
Neutral = The return path of a circuit carrying only the unbalanced load
of two ungrounded conductors. A neutral may not be broken by a switch or
other type of device. A neutral will be referred to as a grounded
conductor.
Ohms = A measurement of resistance. The resistance through which one
volt will force one ampere.
Output = Work performed
In another term output can be a Primary of a transformer
Parallel Circuit
= Where the current divides, and therefore
has more than one path to flow, their total resistance is the sum of
individual currents. The voltage across each of the loads are the same.
The total resistance is less than any individual resistor. In a parallel
circuit, you can remove one resistance [light bulb etc.] without
affecting the work performance of any of the other resistance [light
bulb etc.] on that parallel circuit.
PF = Power factor which is the ratio between the power in watts, and the
apparent power in voltamps. Power factor is normally expressed in
percentages.
R = Resistance which is the opposition
that a device, or material offers to the flow of current. The opposition
which results in the production of heat in the material carrying the
current. Resistance is measured in ohms. All resistance have two
dimensions. Cross sectional area, and length.
Series Circuit = Where the current flow is the same. The total
resistance equals the sum of the individual resistance. In a series
circuit you can not remove one resistance [light bulb etc.] on that
series circuit. [The circuit will deenergize unless you replace the
connected void created by the removal of that resistance, {light bulb
etc.}].
V = Volts which is a nominal value assigned to a circuit or system for
the purpose of conventionally designating it’s voltage class. The
pressure required to force one ampere through a resistance of one ohm.
VA
= Volt amps which is the electric current that will flow through one
ohm under the pressure of an applied voltage.
VD = Waste of electricity due to the heating of a conductor.
Voltage drop which is the amount of voltage reduced due to the
resistance and length and load of a wire used.
VD = The load applied to a conductor multiplied by the resistance
created by that conductor.
W = Watts, which is a unit of electrical power of the rate that a form
of energy [work performed]. A unit measure of power.
Ungrounded = Hot Conductor.
Volt Amperes = Watts divided by the power factor.
If carefully said, and in general (Laymans) terms, volt amperes and
watts are generally the same, unless dealing with electronics. VA = W or
watts divided by power factor.
PF
Watts
= W = VA x PF or volt amperes multiplied by the power factor
If carefully said, and in general (Layman’s) terms,
voltamperes and watts are generally the same, unless dealing with
electronics.
Written: Dec. 21. 2011 Revised: June 21, 2013
Proof
Read / Released: July 10, 2013
Diagrams redrawn with Transparency: Jan. 9, 2014
By: Donald Kerr
