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Glossary of electrical terms
Accessible: Not permanently concealed or enclosed by building construction.
Accessible, as appplied to equipment: Capable of being removed or exposed without damaging the building finish or structure. A piece of equipment can be considered accessible even if tools must be used or other equipment must be removed to gain access to it.
Accessible, readily: Capable of being reached quickly for operation or inspection without the necessity of using tools to remove covers, resorting to ladders, or removing other obstacles.
Alternating current (AC): Current that flows in one direction and then in the other in regular cycles; referred to as frequency or Hertz.
Apparent power: See power.
Approved: Acceptable to the AHJ. The AHJ will usually approve materials that are listed and labeled.
Arc fault: An Electric current propated through air.
AFCI, Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter: Device intended to provide protection from the effects of arc faults by recognizing certain characteristics unique to arcing and by functioning to de-energize the circuit when an arc fault is detected.
AFCI, branch/feeder type: An AFCI meeting the standard for interrupting parallel arcs if 75A of current are available at the device.
AFCI, combination type: An AFCI meeting the standard for interrupting both series and parallel arcs, and requiring <75A available current to facilitate operation.
Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ): The building official or person(s) authorized to act on his or her behalf.
Bonded, bonding: Connected to establish continuity and conductivity.
Branch circuit: The circuit conductors between the final OCPD (breaker or fuse) protecting the circuit and the outlet or outlets.
Branch circuit, general purpose: Branch circuit that supplies two or more receptacles or outlets for lighting and appliances.
Branch circuit, individual: Branch circuit supplying only one piece of equipment.
Branch circuit, multiwire, residential: Branch circuit consisting of two hot conductors having a 240V potential between them and a grounded neutral having a 120V difference between it and each hot conductor F17.
Branch circuit, small appliance: Branch circuit supplying portable house-hold appliances in kitchens and related rooms and that has no permanently installed equipment connected to it (see p. 18 for exceptions).
Clothes closet: A non-habitable room or space intended primarily for storage of garments and apparel F37.
Controller: A device to directly open and close power to a load.
Derating: A reduction in the allowable ampacity-of conductors because of ambient temperatures >86°F or more than three current-carrying conductors in the same raceway, or cables without spacing between them.
Device: A piece of equipment that carries or controls electrical energy as its primary function, such as switch, receptacle, or circuit breaker.
Equipment: A general term including materials, fittings, devices, appliances, luminaires (fixtures), apparatus, machinery, and the like used as a part of, or in connection with, an electrical installation.
Equipment Grounding Conductor (EGC): A wire or conductive path that limits voltage on metal surfaces and provides a path for fault currents F16.
Flexibility after installation: Anticipated movement after initial installation, such as that caused by motor vibration or equipment repositioning.
Feeders: Conductors supplying panelboards other than service panels.
Gooseneck: A curve at the top of a service entrance cable designed to prevent water from entering the open end of the cable.
Ground: The Earth.
Grounded conductor: A current-carrying conductor that is intentionally con-nected to earth (a neutral).
Grounding electrode conductor (GEC): A conductor used to connect the service neutral or the equipment to a grounding electrode or to a point on the grounding electrode system F6.
Ground fault: An unintentional connection of a current-carrying conductor to equipment or conductors that are not normally intended to carry current.
GFCI: A device to protect against shock hazards by interrupting current when an imbalance of 6 milliamps or more is detected.
GFPE: A device to protect equipment from ground faults and allowing higher levels of leakage current than a GFCI.
Hertz: A measure of the frequency of AC. In North America, the standard frequency is 60 Hertz.
Individual branch circuit: A circuit supplying only one piece of utilization equipment.
In sight: See within sight
Load: The electrical demand of a piece of electrical equipment measured in amps or watts.
Lighting outlet: An outlet intended for the direct connection of a lampholder or a luminaire.
Location, damp: An area protected from weather, yet subject to moderate degrees of moisture, such as a covered porch.
Location, dry: A location not normally subject to dampness or wetness.
Location, wet: All installations underground or in concrete or masonry in direct contact with the earth and areas subject to direct saturation with rain water or other liquids.
Luminaire: (formerly lighting fixture) A complete lighting unit, including parts to connect it to the power supply and possibly parts to protect or distribute the light source. A lampholder, such as a porcelain socket, is not itself a luminaire.
Neutral conductor: The conductor connected to the neutral point of a system that is intended to carry current under normal conditions F17.
Open conductors: Individual conductors not contained within a raceway or cable sheathing, such as a typical service drop.
Outlet: The point on a wiring system at which current is taken to supply equipment. A receptacle or a box for a lighting fixture is an outlet; a switch is not an outlet.
Overcurrent: Any current in excess of the rating of equipment or conductor insu-lation. Overcurrents are produced by overloads, ground faults, or short circuits.
Overfusing: A fuse or breaker that has an overload rating greater than allowed for the conductor it is protecting.
Overload: Equipment drawing current in excess of the equipment or conductor rating and in such a manner that damage would occur if it continued for a sufficient length of time. Short circuits and ground faults are not overloads.
Panelboards: The “guts” of an electrical panel; the assembly of bus bars, termi-nal bars, etc., designed to be placed in a “cabinet?’ What is commonly called an electrical panel or load center is, by NEC terms, a panelboard mounted in a cabinet F16.
Power: Electrical power is the product of volts times amps and can be expressed as either watts (true power) or VA (apparent power).
Service: The conductors and equipment providing a connection to the utility F2.
Service drop: The overhead conductors supplied by the utility F2.
Service entrance conductors: The conductors on the customer’s premises that convey power to the service equipment.
Service equipment: The equipment at which the power conductors entering the building can be switched off to disconnect the premises’ wiring from the utility power source. A meter can be a part of or separate from the service equipment.
Service lateral: Underground service entrance conductors.
Service point: The connection or splice point at which the service drop and service entrance meet—it is the handoff between the utility and the customer.
Short circuit: A direct connection of current-carrying conductors without the interposition of a load, resulting in high levels of current.
Short circuit rating (SCR): The amount of current that a piece of equipment (such as a breaker or switch) is rated to sustain without damage.
Snap switch: A typical wall switch, including 3-way and 4-way switches.
Ufer: A concrete-encased grounding electrode, named after the developer of the system, Herbert Ufer F6.
Unit switch: A switch that is an integral part of an appliance.
Within sight: (also written as “in sight”) Visible, unobstructed, and not more than 50 ft. away.
And one of the most important laws: OHM’S LAW
The rate of the flow of the current is equal to electromotive force divided by resistance.
I = Intensity of Current = Amperes
E = Electromotive force = Volts
R = Resistance = Ohms
P = Power = Watts
The three basic Ohm’s law formulas are:
I = E/R R = E/I E = I x R