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Indoor Electrical Safety Check Glossary

FCIC: Indoor Electrical Safety Check - Glossary


Ampere (amps) - A measure of electrical current flow.

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) - Provides protection from fires caused by effects of electrical arcing in wiring. An AM device will de-energize the circuit when an arc fault is detected.

Circuit - The path (usually wire) through which current flows between an electrical energy source and an electrical device, appliance or fixture.

Circuit breaker or Fuses - Protect against over-current and short circuit conditions that could result in potential fire hazards by opening a circuit path in case of an overcurrent.

Electrical faults - A partial or total failure in an electrical conductor or appliance.

Energized - Electrically connected to a source of potential difference, or electrically charged so as to have a potential different from that of the ground.

Gauge - Standard or scale of measure for circuit conductors.

Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) - Provides the best available protection against severe shock and electrocution. A GFCI device will de-energize a circuit when it senses a difference in the amount of electricity passing through the device and returning through the device, or a "leak" of current from the circuit.

Grounded/grounding - A conducting connection, whether intentional or accidental, by which an electric circuit or equipment is connected to the earth, or to some conducting body of relatively large extent that serves in place of the earth.

Overcurrent - Any current in excess of the rated current or ampacity of a conductor. May result in risk of fire or shock from insulation damaged from heat generated by overcurrent condition.

Outlet - A contact device installed along a circuit for the connection of an attachment plug and flexible cord to supply power to portable equipment and electrical appliances. Also known as receptacles.

Three-pronged plugs and outlets - Grounded appliances and outlets (unless marked otherwise) have a third socket or prong. The third wire, or grounding conductor, provides a path from the frame or housing of grounded electrical appliances back to the circuit breaker panel to permit current flow in event of an electrical fault in the equipment. When a ground fault occurs, the circuit breaker can trip to remove energy from the faulty equipment but does not respond quickly enough to prevent the risk of severe shock.

Short circuit - An abnormal electrical path.

Voltage (volts) - A measure of electrical potential

Wattage (watts) - A measure of power or the rate of energy consumption by an electrical device when it is in operation, calculated by multiplying the voltage at which an appliance operates by the current it draws (Watts = Volts X Amperes).

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