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
- How to Understand Electricity: Watts, Amps, Volts, and Ohms
- Basic Electrical Theory: Understanding Electricity
- Understanding Basic Electrical Theory
- Electricity 101: An Introduction to Electricity
- About the U.S. Electricity System and its Impact on the Environment
- Electricity and Electronics: What You Need to Know
- Electricity Production and Distribution
- Interesting Facts About Electricity
- The Future of Electric Power in the U.S.
- The Future of Electricity: Electrification
By: Jim Olenbush