A Homeowner’s Guide to Electrical Terms

A Homeowner’s Guide to Electrical Terms

A Homeowner’s Guide to Electrical Terms

Table of Contents

Most of us don’t know anything about our electrical system and would benefit greatly from a guide to electrical terms. If we so much as flick a light switch and nothing happens, we panic.

Knowing these terms not only will help us better understand our electrical system but make it easier to describe any problems we may be having. They are terms we hear all the time.

A Homeowner’s Guide to Electrical Terms

Most of us know better than to attempt anything DIY with our electrical system more complicated than changing a light bulb. But, these terms can come in useful, just the same.


Fuses serve as safety devices. They are made up of wires that can melt and break an electrical circuit when the current overloads. Once blown fuses need to be replaced.


Voltage refers to the amount of electrical pressure pushing currents through circuits. Voltages are measured the same way water moves through a pipe.

Guide to Electrical Terms: Watts

A watt is a unit of electrical power that measures the amount of energy used per second by a current. One watt is equal to one joule per second.


A current is the movement of electricity through a conductor or wire. An alternating current reverses its direction at regularly recurring intervals, while a direct current flow is in only one direction.


This refers to the electric currents flowing through closed pathways, which are called circuits. Circuits can be in series, parallel, or any combination of the two.

Guide to Electrical Terms: Circuit Breaker

These devices allow you to stop the flow of an electric current in certain areas of the home. You can manually flip a switch to the “on” or “off” position to manage the electricity. This is done before any work can be done.


Any material where electricity can flow freely is a conductor. Copper and aluminum are the most common conductors used for electrical wiring, but there are others, as well.

Grounded Conductor

A system or circuit conductor that is intentionally grounded. This is for safety.

Guide to Electrical Terms: Load

Anything which consumes electrical energy, such as lights, transformers, heaters, and electric motors.


A fault is an abnormal electric current. If a current bypasses the normal load, there is a fault in electricity, often referred to as a short circuit.


When the use of equipment is more than normal, full-load rating, or of a conductor of what is normal, can cause the system to overload. This is different from a fault.

Guide to Electrical Terms: Diode

A semiconductor device with two terminals typically allows the flow of current in one direction only.

Main Service Panel

This is where the electricity enters your home. It comes through the wires outside and reaches your main breaker panel.


Transformers are the large or small cylinders on your power poles, or at the power generating plant.


A lumen is a measurement that measures the brightness of the light bulb. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light will be,

GFCI Outlet

This stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. These outlets are different from regular outlets. These are used where there is a lot of water around, They protect you from electrical shocks.

A Homeowner’s Guide to Electrical Terms

These terms can help you understand what is happening with your electrical system. They may also come in handy if something goes wrong. It may make it easier for you to explain to your electrician why you need your electrician’s help.

Please contact us here at Teague Electric for more information or a consultation.

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