Glossary of Workplace Electrical Terms

workplace electrical terms

If you work in the electrical industry, you are likely to hear many workplace electrical terms on a daily basis. In order to function in your line of work, it is necessary to become familiar with these terms.

Workplace Electrical Terms for Circuits

These are some basic workplace electrical terms that come up often when referring to electrical circuits.

AC (Alternating Current): This type of current will alternate its direction many times a second at regular intervals.

DC (Direct Current): Current will flow in only one direction.

Feeder: These are circuit conductors between the service equipment, the source of a separately derived system or other power source and the final branch circuit overcurrent device.

Fuse: This is a circuit interrupting device. It consists of a strip wire that melts and breaks when an electric circuit exceeds a safe level.

Ground: This is the point in an electrical circuit from which voltage is measured.

Ground Fault: An unintentional, electrically conductive connection between an ungrounded conductor of an electrical circuit and the normally non-current carrying conductors.

Load: Anything that consumes electrical energy.

Overload: Operation of equipment in excess of normal full-load rating. If such a condition persists for a sufficient length of time, damage and overheating can occur.

Short Circuit: A fault in an electric circuit due to apparatus that is not well insulated causing the current to follow a path that could lead to damage or cause the electricity to be wasted.

Electrical Terms for Components

These are some basic workplace electrical terms that come up often when referring to components.

AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter): This is a special type of receptacle or circuit breaker that opens the circuit when it detects a dangerous electrical arc.

Capacitor:  A passive two terminal electrical component that stores electrical energy temporarily in an electric field.

Circuit: Closed path in which electron forms a voltage or current source flows. These can be in series, parallel or a combination of the two.

Circuit Breaker: An automatic device the stops the flow of an electric current in a circuit due to overload or failure.

Conductor: Material where an electric current can flow freely.

Generator: Converts mechanical energy into electrical energy for use in an external circuit.

GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter): Used to protect against electrical shock by shutting off electrical power circuit when it detects current is flowing along an unintended path like water or a person

Transistor: A semiconductor device with three connections, capable of amplification and rectification.

These are some of the basic workplace electrical terms you are likely to encounter. Although there are many more electrical terms you are likely to come across, this is a pretty good start.  Familiarizing yourself with these terms will give you a pretty good understanding of electrical devices and help you hold your own if you are a newcomer in the electrical field.

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