An Electricity Glossary of Terms for Homeowners

Ampere: An ampere is a metric unit used to measure an amount electric current in motion per unit of time.

Alternating Current (AC): Alternating current is the type of electric current that alternates directions and is most commonly used in power lines.

Battery: Batteries are chemical cells that have the ability to store electricity. They are used to power various devices, including computers, smaller toys, and larger machinery.

Capacitor: A capacitor is made of two electrically conductive materials separated by an insulator, and it stores an electric charge.

Conductor: Conductors are substances that allow electrical energy to pass through them easily. Copper wire used in homes is the most common conductor.

Coulomb's Law: This law states that charged particles elicit an electrostatic interaction and describes how this interaction works.

Diode: Diodes are devices that allow and regulate current flow in a particular direction.

Direct Current (DC): A direct current is a form of electric current that only allows the flow of current in one direction.

Electric Charge: Electric charge is determined by the ratio of protons to electrons. Protons have a positive electric charge, and electrons have a negative charge.

Electric Circuit: You create an electric circuit when two or more components are connected by wiring that allows electricity to flow between them.

Electric Current: An electric current is the flow of electric charge through a material, and it's measured in amperes.

Electric Potential: The electric potential is defined as the difference in electrical charge between two points, and it is measured in volts.

Electromagnetism: The interaction between electric currents and magnetic fields is known as electromagnetism.

Electrons: These are negatively charged particles that have the ability to carry electricity through their ability to jump from one atom to another.

Farad: A farad is a measurement of capacitance.

Henry: A henry measures inductance.

Inductor: An inductor provides measurable resistance in electric current.

Insulator: A material that prevents the flow of electric current. Electrical insulators use materials such as glass, ceramics, or plastic to attenuate the flow of electricity through a substance.

Magnetic Field: Electric currents and the physical materials they interact with create a magnetic influence that is known as a magnetic field.

Ohm: An Ohm is a unit of measurement of electrical resistance based on how much voltage an object in the circuit takes and how much current it will move.

Ohm's Law: This is often written as V = IR and explains the interconnection between voltage, current, and resistance.

Resistors: A resistor is a device that regulates and lowers the electric current and prevents it from flowing.

Semiconductor: Semiconductors are in the middle between conductors and insulators. Depending on a multitude of other variables, they can carry electrons well or less well.

Static Electricity: When an object becomes charged from a buildup of electric current, this buildup of current is known as static electricity.

Transformer: In a transformer, energy is transferred between two circuits using inductive coupling.

Transistor: Transistors are made of semiconductor material and act as gates or amplifiers for electric currents.

Volts: The amount of change in electric potential between two points that is produced by an electric field through a circuit is measured in volts.

Watts: A measurement of electric power is watts.

Additional Reading on Electricity

By: Jim Olenbush