Most electricians will try and talk in layman’s terms to avoid confusing customers and help them understand what the electrical faults for work needed to be carried out and why. Many homeowners may not have some basic understanding of even the simplest of terms so here is a glossary of common electrical terms to help you out.
This is a measurement of the force of an electrical current. Different countries have different voltage levels of what is sent down through the cables to your home, and each appliance will require varying amounts for them to operate correctly. In Australia, we run off 240 volts whereas the USA uses 120 (hence why you need a converter for specific appliances).
This is a universal measurement for the number of electrons flowing through a conductor. The current is the speed or rate at which the electrons flow. Whereas volts is the pressure, amps are the flow. The more amps, the more electricity you are generally using. For instance, a modern home wouldn’t usually exceed 100 amps, but a business or commercial use may go up to 400.
Your Meter box is your main electrical panel where the electricity comes into your property. It’s where the power is distributed from and often called a “Switchboard” or “fuse box”. It’s the major start and endpoint for all the power in your home. Although modern units don’t contain fuses anymore, they do contain safety switches which are a lot safer. Surge and short circuit protection are often built into modern units.
A circuit is a loop of power or flow. These are separated into things like aircon, lighting, outlets (sockets, often upstairs, downstairs or outside) etc. When you get a shock it’s because you are completing the circuit, hence why electricians can work on live power lines in certain situations because they are not completing the circuit and allowing electricity to flow.
This is the modern equivalent of a fuse and is also known as a safety switch. It can be used on an individual circuit of the whole supply to switch off if there is a fault or even a surge. Fuses blow and need to be replaced, but circuit breakers are switches that just need to be reset when it’s safe.
Normally a length of plastic or PVC pipe that’s used to conceal wiring. In domestic application, they are required when cables are run outside and need to be of a certain safety rating for what they are concealing and usually need to be buried or concealed.
The gauge is simply referring to the thickness (or diameter) of your electrical wires. Different gauges are required for different applications. The higher the number, the thinner the wire and so the less current it can handle. Often the reason to upgrade the wiring in your home if it’s old.
The device is used to measure your electricity. This is how your energy supplier measures your usage and derives its bill from.