Electrical Terms Every Homeowner Should Know
AFCI – Also known as an arc fault circuit Interrupter; this is a circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects an electric arc in the circuit it protects to prevent electrical fires.
AMPERAGE – Measurement of the flow rate of electricity. If you think in terms of water through a hose, amperage would be a measure of water volume flowing through the hose.
BACK FEED – When power flows in the opposite direction from its usual flow or when voltage is present on a conductor or associated equipment after it has been disconnected from its normal source.
CFL – Abbreviation for compact fluorescent lamp. It is a light bulb that uses 70 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.
CURRENT – The rate of flow of electrical energy through a conductor or wire, comparable to the amount of water flowing in a pipe. Electric current is measured in amperes or “amps.”
GFCI – Also known as ground fault circuit interrupter or ground fault interrupter; this type of receptacle protects people from electrical shock by monitoring the current flowing into or out of a plugged-in device. Should this receptacle detect a current exceeding five milliamps, it will shut off the flow of electricity in as little as .025 seconds.
GROUNDING WIRE – It is a safety wire that has intentionally been connected to earth. The grounding wire does not carry electricity under normal circuit operations. Its purpose is to carry electric current only under short circuit or other conditions that would be potentially dangerous. Grounding wires serve as an alternate path for the current to flow back to the source, rather than go through anyone touching a dangerous appliance or electrical box.
LED – Abbreviation for light-emitting diode, they are an energy efficient lightbulb and have a long lifespan (often more than 100,000 hours). They have begun to replace traditional lightbulbs in several areas.
LUMEN – A unit of measurement that describes the brightness of a bulb.
NMB – Also known as 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.
PANEL (ELECTRICAL PANEL) – An electrical panel is what provides the power to your home. It is the “power plant” of your home.
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.
UL – Underwriters Laboratories, an independent, non-profit product safety and certification organization.
VOLTAGE – The force or “push” driving electrical energy through a conductor or wire that can be compared to the pressure of water in a pipe.
WATT – A unit of measurement indicating how much electricity is being used in one second.