In the electrical industry, many professionals or even the department and home improvement stores use terms and phrases that unless you have some sort of training or exposure to the electrical field, it sounds like a foreign language. In an effort to help the layman understand some of the common vocabulary words frequently heard, we at Sentry Electric have listed them today for your convenience.
Common Electrical Wiring Terms & Definitions
Adapter: Allowing for different devices to connect. The adapter is a cord or block style device with different ends.
Alternating Current (AC): Electric current in which the flow of electric charge periodically reverses direction.
Amperage (Amps): A measurement of the electricity’s flow rate.
American Wire Gauge (AWG): Non-ferrous conductors, such as non-iron and non-steal, standardized measuring gauge; the lower the gauge the larger the conductor size.
Cable: A set of wires, generally encased in protective outer jacket.
Conductor: Frequently made from copper, the conductor is internal material of a cord that conducts electricity. Silver is the optimal material but can be expensive as it does not corrode and gold can also be used as high-quality surface-to-surface contacts.
Connector: The conducting elements recessed behind the mating surface of the female end of the cord mounted wiring device.
Current: Flow electrical energy through the conductor wire.
Direct Current (DC): A single direction of steady flowing electrical currents.
Fuse: A strip of wire that melts and breaks an electric circuit if the current exceeds a safe level, which is a safety device.
Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (GFCI): In the event that the electric current is not balanced between the energized conductor and the return neutral conductor, the GFCI, an electrical wiring safety device, will disconnects a circuit.
Ground: An electrical device and the Earth or at the voltage connection.
Hertz: Frequency measurement of equaling one cycle per second.
International Color Code (ICC): Wire jackets standard colors; Ground=Green/Yellow, Hot=Brown, Neutral=Blue.
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC): An international organization that determines the standards for electrical products.
Inlet: The conducting pins protruding and exposed from a male flange mounted wiring device.
Insulation: To prevent leakage of current from a conductor, insulation is the material that encases a conductor.
Ingress Protection Rating (IP Rating): A 2 digit code, sometimes with an optional letter, specifying the degree of protection against foreign object; 1st digit references the protection from solids and the 2nd number is from liquids. The optional letter references hazardous parts.
Jacket: The material of the cord’s exterior.
North American Color Code (NACC): Ground=Green, Hot=Black, Neutral=White.
National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA): A U.S. based organization that sets the standards of electrical products.
Outer Diameter (OD): the cord’s exterior diameter.
OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer.
Plug: The conducting pins protruding and exposed from the male cord mounted wiring device.
Polarized: To allow proper connection, it is a plug and connector formed accordingly. Receptacle: Also known as an outlet; a receptacle is the conducting elements recessed behind the mating surface of a female flange mounted wiring device.
Slitting: Separating insulated parallel wires.
Stripping: The insulation or jacket removal from a conductor/wire.
Temperature Rating: The maximum temperature that the insulation will maintain its integrity.
Terminal: Providing a point of connection to external circuits, a terminal is the point at which a conductor from an electrical component, device or network comes to an end.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL): An independent non-profit organization that certifies product safety.
Voltage: The force driving electrical energy through a conductor or wire.
Watt: A unit of power, defined as one joule per second.