## Andy's Electric, Your One-Stop Electrical Contractor

Andy's Electric is your One-Stop for everything electric. If you need rewiring, adding new lighting or power circuits, low voltage, security, network, or high voltage electrical installation, make one call to 845-416-6936## Glossary of Terminology

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**ac** - abbreviation for
alternating current

**active power** - see
real power

**alternating current** -
an electrical current which reverses direction repeatedly due to a change in
voltage which occurs at the same frequency. Often abbreviated AC or ac.

**alternator** - an
electric generator designed to produce alternating current. Usually consists of
rotating parts which created the changing magnetic field to produce the
alternating current.

**American National
Standards Institute** - a private organization that coordinates and/or
approves some US standards, particularly those related to the electrical
industry. Abbreviated ANSI.

**American Wire Gauge** -
A standard measure which represents the size of wire. The larger the number, the
smaller the wire. Abbreviated AWG.

**ampacity** - the maximum
continuous current that a conductor can carry without overheating above its
temperature rating.

**Ampere** - electric
current produced by one volt applied across a resistance of one ohm. It is also
equal to the flow of one coulomb per second. Named after French physicist
Andre M. Ampère 1836.

**ambient temperature** -
the surrounding temperature.

**Ampere-hour** - the flow
of electricity equal to one ampere for one hour. Commonly used to rate the
capacity of batteries.

**analog **- a measuring
or display methodology which uses continuously varying physical parameters. In
contrast, digital represents information in discrete binary form using only
zeros and ones.

**apparent power** - the
mathematical product of voltage and current on ac systems. Since voltage and
current may not be in phase on ac systems, the apparent power thus calculated
may not equal the real power, but may actually exceed it. Reactive loads
(inductance and/or capacitance) on ac systems will cause the apparent power to
be larger than the real power.

**AWG** -
abbreviation for American Wire Gauge.

**battery** - a group of
two or more cells connected together to provide electrical current. Sometimes
also used to describe a single cell which converts chemical energy to electrical
current.

**battery cycle life** -
the number of discharge and recharge cycles that a battery can undergo before
degrading below its capacity rating.

**battery self-discharge**
- the gradual loss of chemical energy in a battery that is not connected to any
electrical load.

**black start** - refers
to certain electric utility generating units that can start upon demand without
any outside source of electric power. These are often combustion turbines that
have stationary battery banks to provide backup power to energize all the
controls and auxiliaries necessary to get the unit up and running. In the event
of an large area-wide blackout, these units are critical to restoring the
utility grid. Most utility generating units do not have black start
capability.

**bonding** - an
electrical conducting path formed by the permanent joining of metallic parts.
Intended to assure electrical continuity and the capability to safely conduct
any likely current. Similar to bonding jumper or bonding conductor.

**branch circuit** -
the conductors between the last overcurrent protective device and the outlets or
loads.

**capacitor **- a device
that stores electrical charge usually by means conducting plates or foil
separated by a thin insulating layer of dielectric material. The effectiveness
of the device, or its capacitance, is measured in Farads.

**cell** - a single device
which converts chemical energy into electrical current. Sometimes also referred
to as a battery.

**charge rate** - the rate
at which a battery or cell is recharged. Can be expressed as a ratio of battery
capacity to current flow.

**circuit breaker** - a
device designed to open a circuit either by manual action or by automatic action
when current exceeds a value longer than permitted. A circuit breaker can
provide overcurrent protection.

**conductor** - usually a
metallic substance capable of transmitting electricity with little resistance.
The best conductor at normal temperature ranges is silver. The most common is
copper. Some other recently discovered substances called super conductors
actually have zero resistance at extremely low temperatures.

**continuous load** - a
sustained electrical load current for three hours or more.

**Coulomb** - the
practical unit of electric charge transmitted by a current of one ampere for one
second. It is the charge carried by 6.2418 x 10^{18} electrons. Named
for the French physicist Charles A. de Coulomb 1806.

**current** - the flow of
electricity commonly measured in amperes.

**cycles-per-second**
- a measure of the frequency in an ac electric system. Abbreviated cps or
cycles. Now replaced with the unit Hertz.

**dc** - abbreviation for
direct current.

**decibel** - a
logarithmic measure of the ratio of two quantities. Abbreviated dB. For
electrical power, 1 dB = 10 x log_{10} P_{1}/P_{2}. For
electric voltage or current, 1 dB = 20 x log_{10} E_{1}/E_{2}.

**depth of discharge** -
the percent of rated capacity of a battery that has been discharged from the
battery.

**diode** - an electronic
semiconductor device that predominantly allows current to flow in only one
direction.

**direct current** -
electrical current that normally flows in one direction only. Abbreviated dc.

**electrolyte** - a
nonmetallic conductor of electricity usually consisting of a liquid or paste in
which the flow of electricity is by ions.

**energy** - the
capacity for, or the ability to do, mechanical work. Electrical energy is
measured in kilowatt-hours for billing purposes.

**Farad** - a unit of
capacitance. One coulomb of charge will produce a potential difference of one
volt across a capacitance of one Farad. Named for the English physicist Michael
Faraday 1867.

**fault** - a short
circuit.

**feeder** - circuit
conductors between the service equipment and the last downstream branch circuit
overcurrent protective device.

**filter** - a device made
up of circuit elements designed to pass desirable frequencies and block all
others. It typically consists of capacitors and inductors.

**FLA - **
Full load amperes, also sometimes abbreviated RLA for full load amperes.
This is the current in amperes that a motor requires to produce rated nameplate
horsepower output when rated nameplate voltage and frequency is provided to it's
terminals.

**float charge** -
charging current supplied to a battery which overcomes the battery
self-discharge rate. This current, under otherwise normal conditions, will
maintain the battery in a fully charged state.

**frequency** - the
number of complete alternations or cycles per second of an alternating current.
It is measured in Hertz. The standard frequency in the US is 60 Hz. However, in
some other countries the standard is 50 Hz.

**gassing** - gas
by-products produced by the chemical reactions that occur when charging a
battery. Since one of these gasses is often hydrogen, safety precautions must be
taken to ensure proper ventilation to avoid the danger of explosion.

**generator** - a rotating
machine which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. In the
automotive industry traditional terminology uses generator to refer to only
those machines designed to produce dc current through brushes and a commutator
(as opposed to alternator).

**grid** - in the
electrical arena, a term used to refer to the electrical utility distribution
network.

**ground** - a
conducting connection between an electrical circuit or device and the earth. A
ground may be intentional, such as in the case of a safety ground, or accidental
which may result in high overcurrents.

**harmonic** - a sine wave
which is an integral multiple of a base frequency. For example, the third
harmonic on a 60 Hz system is a frequency of 180 Hz. Certain types of electrical
equipment generate harmonics which interfere with the proper functioning of
other devices connected to the same system.

**Henry** - the practical
unit of inductance. One Henry is equal to the inductance in which the change of
one ampere per second results in an induced voltage of one volt. Abbreviated H.
Named for the American physicist Joseph Henry 1878.

**Hertz** - unit of
frequency. One Hertz equals one complete cycle per second of an ac source.
Abbreviated Hz. Named after the German physicist Heinrich R. Hertz 1894. This
unit replaces the former "cycles-per-second."

**horsepower** - a unit of
power equal to 746 watts.

**Hz** -
abbreviation for Hertz.

**IEEE** - abbreviation
for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

**impedance** - the total
effects of a circuit that oppose the flow of an ac current consisting of
inductance, capacitance, and resistance. It can be quantified in the units of
ohms.

**inductance** - the
characteristic of an electric circuit by which a voltage is induced in it by a
variation of current. This can be a variation of the current in the circuit
itself (self-inductance) or in a nearby circuit (mutual inductance). The
magnitude of the characteristic is measured in the units of Henries.

**Institute of Electrical
and Electronics Engineers** - an independent organization which develops
electrical standards and furthers the profession of electrical and electronics
engineers.

**inverter** - an
electrical device which is designed to convert direct current into alternating
current. This was originally done with rotating machines which produced true
sine wave ac output. More recently this conversion has been performed more
economically and efficiently using solid state electronics. However, except for
the most expensive models, these devices usually do not produce perfect sine
wave output. This sometimes can result in electromagnetic interference with
other sensitive electronic devices.

**ion** - a
positively or negatively charged atom or molecule.

**Joule** - a unit of work
or energy equal to one watt for one second. One kilowatt hour equals 3,600,000
Joules. Named after James P. Joule, an English physicist 1889.

**Joule’s law** -
defines the relationship between current in a wire and the thermal energy
produced. In 1841an English physicist James P. Joule experimentally showed that
W = I^{2} x R x t where I is the current in the wire in amperes, R is
the resistance of the wire in Ohms, t is the length of time that the current
flows in seconds, and W is the energy produced in Joules.

**kilovar** - unit of ac
reactive power equal to 1000 vars. Abbreviated kVAr or KVAR.

**kilovolt** - unit of
electrical potential equal to 1000 volts. Abbreviated kV or KV.

**kilovolt amperes** - a
unit of apparent power equal to 1000 volt amperes. Here, apparent power is in
contrast to real power. On ac systems the voltage and current will not be in
phase if reactive power is being transmitted. Usually abbreviated kVA or KVA.

**kilowatt** - unit of
power equal to 1000 watts. Abbreviated kW or KW.

**kilowatt-hour** - unit
of energy or work equal to one kilowatt for one hour. Abbreviated as kwh or
KWH. This is the normal quantity used for metering and billing electricity
customers. The price for a kwh varies from approximately 4 cents to 15 cents. At
a 100% conversion efficiency, one kwh is equivalent to about 4 fluid ounces of
gasoline, 3/16 pound LP, 3 cubic feet natural gas, or 1/4 pound coal.

**kV** - abbreviation for
kilovolt and equal to 1000 volts.

**kVA** - abbreviation for
kilovolt amperes.

**kVAr** - abbreviation
for kilovar. A unit of ac reactive power equal to 1000 vars.

**kW** -
abbreviation for kilowatt. A unit of power equal to 1000 watts.

**listed **- an electrical
device or material that has been tested by a recognized organization and shown
to meet appropriate standards. Many local governmental authorities require that
installed electrical products be listed. A well-known listing organization is
Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

**load** - a device
which consumes electrical power and is connected to a source of electricity.

**LRA** -
Locked rotor amperes. This is the current that a motor would require if the
rotor were locked in place and prevented from rotating and rated nameplate
voltage and frequency were applied to its terminals. This is also the current
that could appear briefly during motor starting. While the motor comes up to
speed this current gradually drops off and when the speed approaches running rpm
this current rapidly falls to the RLA value. Often the starting current is less
than the LRA value because the voltage at the motor terminals dips during
starting. This LRA value is important when sizing a generator because the
generator's surge rating must be large enough to handle it.

**MCA** -
Minimum circuit amperes. This is the minimum current rating
allowed for the wiring and circuit breaker or fuse protection for the
equipment. It is used by the installer and electrician to size the branch
circuit to feed the equipment.

**National Electrical Code**
- a code for the safeguarding of people and property from hazards related to the
use of electricity. Compliance with this code along with proper maintenance will
result in an installation essentially free from hazard. Abbreviated NEC. The NEC
was first developed in 1897 as a result of the efforts of various insurance,
electrical, architectural, and allied interests. It is sponsored and regularly
updated by the National Fire Protection Association.

**NEC** - abbreviation for
the National Electrical Code.

**neutral** - a
conductor of an electrical system which usually operates with minimal voltage to
ground. Depending on the type of system, it may carry little current or only
unbalance current. Systems that have one conductor grounded use the neutral for
this purpose.

**Ohm** - a unit of
electrical resistance. A circuit resistance of one ohm will pass a current of
one ampere with a potential difference of one volt. Abbreviated using the Greek
letter omega (W ). Named for the German physicist
George Simon Ohm 1854.

**Ohm’s Law** - defines
the relationship between voltage, resistance, and current. In 1828 the German
physicist George Simon Ohm showed by experiment that the current in a conductor
is equal to the difference of potential between any two points divided by the
resistance between them. This may be written as I = E / R where E is the
potential difference in volts, R is the resistance in Ohms, and I is the current
in amperes.

**open circuit voltage** -
the maximum voltage produced by a power source with no load connected.

**overcurrent** - any
current beyond the continuous rated current of the conductor or equipment. This
may be value slightly above the rating as in the case of an overload, or may be
far above the rating as in the case of a short circuit.

**overload** -
operation of electrical equipment above its normal full-load rating or of a
conductor above its rated ampacity. An overload condition will eventually cause
dangerous overheating and damage.

**power** - the rate at
which work is performed or that energy is transferred. Electric power is
commonly measured in watts or kilowatts. A power of 746 watts is equivalent to 1
horsepower.

**power factor** -
the ratio of real power to apparent power delivered in an ac electrical system
or load. Its value is always in the range of 0.0 to 1.0 or 0% to 100%. A unity
power factor (1.0) indicates that the current is in phase with the voltage and
that reactive power is zero.

**reactive power** - the
mathematical product of voltage and current consumed by reactive loads. Examples
of reactive loads include capacitors and inductors. These types of loads when
connected to an ac voltage source will draw current, but since the current is 90^{o}
out of phase with the applied voltage they actually consume no real power in the
ideal sense.

**real power** - the rate
at which work is performed or that energy is transferred. Electric power is
commonly measured in watts or kilowatts. The term real power is often used in
place of the term power alone to differentiate from reactive power. Also called
active power.

**resistance** - the
characteristic of materials to oppose the flow of electricity in an electric
circuit.

**RLA - **
Running load amperes, also sometimes abbreviated FLA for full load
amperes. This is the current in amperes that a motor requires to produce rated
nameplate horsepower output when rated nameplate voltage and frequency is
provided to it's terminals.

**rms **
- "root-mean-square", a method of computing the effective value
of a time-varying electrical wave. For example, an ac current is said to have
an effective or rms value of one ampere when it produces heat in a certain
resistance at the same average rate as a continuous (or dc) current of one
ampere would in the same resistance. rms -
"root-mean-square", a method of computing the effective value of a time-varying
electrical wave. For example, an ac current is said to have an effective or rms
value of one ampere when it produces heat in a certain resistance at the same
average rate as a continuous (or dc) current of one ampere would in the same
resistance. rms - "root-mean-square", a method of
computing the effective value of a time-varying electrical wave. For example,
an ac current is said to have an effective or rms value of one ampere when it
produces heat in a certain resistance at the same average rate as a continuous
(or dc) current of one ampere would in the same resistance.
rms - "root-mean-square", a method of computing the effective
value of a time-varying electrical wave. For example, an ac current is said to
have an effective or rms value of one ampere when it produces heat in a certain
resistance at the same average rate as a continuous (or dc) current of one
ampere would in the same resistance.

**separately derived system**
- an electrical system whose power is provided by a stand-alone generator,
transformer, or converter and which has no direct electrical connection or
ground connection to another source (such as the utility). The NEC contains
special grounding and bonding requirements for such systems.

**service** - the
equipment and conductors that transmit electricity from the utility supply
system to the building being served.

**service equipment** -
the circuit breaker or fused switch located near where the service conductors
enter the building which is intended as the primary means of disconnecting the
supply.

**short circuit** - a low
resistance connection unintentionally made between points of an electrical
circuit which may result in current flow far above normal levels.

**sine wave** - in ideal
electric systems, the characteristic shape of the alternating voltage or current
wave. This shape matches the trigonometric sine function of the acute angle in a
right triangle and equals the ratio of the side opposite the angle to the
hypotenuse.

**single-phase** - an ac
electric system or load consisting of at least one pair of conductors energized
by a single alternating voltage. This type of system is simpler than three-phase
but has substantial disadvantages when large amounts of power have to be
delivered.

**surge capacity** -
the ability of an electrical supply to tolerate a momentary current surge or
inrush imposed by the starting of motors or the energizing of transformers.

**three-phase** - an ac
electric system or load consisting of three conductors energized by alternating
voltages that are out of phase by one third of a cycle. This type of system has
advantages over single-phase including the ability to deliver greater power
using the same ampacity conductors and the fact that it provides a constant
power throughout each cycle rather than a pulsating power, as in single-phase.
Large power installations are three-phase.

**transformer** - a
device that converts one ac voltage and current to a different voltage and
current. Constructed using two or more coils of wire around a common magnetic
core. The energy is transferred from one coil, usually considered the primary
winding, to the other coil, the secondary winding by means of mutual induction
in the magnetic core. Transformers are an efficient and economical means of
transferring large amounts of ac electric power at high voltages. This is the
primary advantage of ac systems over dc systems.

**Underwriters Laboratories**
- a non-profit organization that was established by the insurance industry to
test electrical devices for safety.

**uninterruptible
power supply** - a device that provides a constant regulated voltage output in
spite of interruptions of the normal power supply. It includes filtering
circuits and is usually used to feed computers or related equipment which would
otherwise shutdown on brief power interruptions. Abbreviated UPS.

**VA** - abbreviation for
volt ampere. Unit of apparent power.

**VAR** - abbreviation for
volt ampere reactive. Unit of ac reactive power.

**volt** - The electrical
potential difference or pressure across a one ohm resistance carrying a current
of one ampere. Named after Italian physicist Count Alessandro Volta 1745-1827.

**volt ampere** - a unit
of apparent power equal to the mathematical product of a circuit voltage and
amperes. Here, apparent power is in contrast to real power. On ac systems the
voltage and current will not be in phase if reactive power is being transmitted.
Usually abbreviated VA.

**voltage drop** - a
voltage reduction due to impedances between the power source and the load. These
impedances are due to wiring and transformers and are normally minimized to the
extent possible.

**watt** - A unit of
power equal to the rate of work represented by a current of one ampere under a
pressure of one volt. Named after the Scottish engineer James Watt, 1819.

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