Electrical Terms Every Homeowner Should Know
Colorado Springs Electricity Tips
By Dave Donahue
As a homeowner, it really helps to know at least a few electrical terms when it comes to electricity. All too often frustrated people call an electrician when something goes haywire in their electrical systems. They remain in the dark as to what questions to ask or what exactly their electrician is talking about. Put it this way, the more aware you are when it comes to electricity and the terms used, the more apt you are to be “in the know” when your electrician explains what he is doing. Here I have compiled a few electrical terms (words) that can help you become more familiar with the lingo when it comes to electricity. You may know some of them already by now.
1) Current. This is also known as electrical charge. In layman’s terms electrical charge is when there is current flowing through a conductor. Although this is just a basic description of current, there are many factors which contribute to the actual process of creating current. Current can be calculated using a standard Ammeter. This is what we mean when we say AC current and/or DC current. DC current is the flowing current you get when using a voltage producer such as a car battery. AC current is used in electrical systems such as your electrical panel.
2) Receptacle. A receptacle can have a variety of meanings. It can mean a number of different things like possibly a flower pot or vase but in this blog we will refer to it as an electrical receptacle. A receptacle is also known as an outlet. These are the devices we use to “plug” our appliances in. Receptacles commonly are placed along walls, in bathrooms, garages and elsewhere. A receptacle can become “overloaded” when too many appliances are connected to the same circuit. Receptacles are commonly grouped together and share the same electrical breaker in your panel. So, when your electrical receptacle stops working, it may very well be because it is overloaded or has shorted out inside the handybox it sits in or the wires carrying the “current” have broken or touched bare metal.
3) Panel. (Electrical Panel) An electrical panel is what provides the power to your home plain and simple. An electrical panel is the “Power Plant” of your home. A panel will have a “Line” side and a “Load” side. The load side is the side of power that actually provides electricity to your branch circuits. These are circuits commonly used like lighting, receptacles, washer dryers, hot water heaters, etc. The “Line” side is the side of electricity that comes into your panel. More than likely this is the power provided by the power company. Without a “Line” side of electricity, you cannot have a powered up “Load” side. The panel is referred by Colorado Springs electricians as a “Panel” or “Electrical Panel.”
4) NMB (or non-metallic, high temperature wire). NMB is in simple terms the wire that carries the current from your panel to the electrical devices you are using. It is also known simply as “wire” or “wiring”. In homes it is common to see 14/2 or 12/2 NMB. The first number is the size of the wire. The larger the number the smaller the wire. The second number is the number of the wires. A hot wire is one wire and a neutral is one wire. Grounds are not included in the number. So if you are wiring a circuit which requires one hot wire, a 14/2 wire is sufficient. This wire is used frequently for your lights and receptacles. For larger loads, (washer dryers) a larger wire sized is required. NMB is available in a number of sizes and conductor numbers. An electrician may refer to NMB wiring as simply NMB.
5) Voltage. This is a term that may be misconstrued to be current. However there are distinct differences between voltage and current. Current is what carries power and voltage is what actually “supplies” the power. Easy right? In all honesty it really is that simple. Current is the electricity that is carried to to the device being powered and voltage is the supplier of the electricity. So voltage would be the source of electricity like say a car battery. This is the supplier of the power that is then taken to the device by the wire which carries the current. For an in depth look at what voltage actually is see this link! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltage. Colorado Springs electricians have many electrical qualifications that can answer your questions about voltage! Check with Swartz Electric for more information on voltage and how it works.
These are just a few terms that are frequently used by electricians when talking to homeowners about work being performed. It is always recommended to know some basic electrical terms when it comes to electricity. For more answers to your electrical questions contact Greg Swartz at Swartz Electric or one of his qualified Colorado Springs electricians. Electricity and installation techniques and terms can be confusing to understand. Fortunately with a little clarification as to what terms are used, you may find yourself a bit more at ease when dealing with electrical issues.
Swartz Electric is Colorado Springs highest rated Electrical Contractor and is licensed and insured to perform electrical work throughout the entire State of Colorado. Please see our website for our licenses, insurance, and links to reviews and testimonials. In addition, Swartz Electric provides a 2 year material warranty and a lifetime workmanship warranty.
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This is an original article written by Dave Donahue for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.
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