- Abbreviation for ampere, the measure of the rate of flow of electric current.|
|Arc-fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI)
A breaker that shuts off current in a circuit instantly when an arc fault is detected. Code-required for bedroom circuits began in 2002.|
- This cable contains two insulated conductors and a thin aluminum or copper bonding strip inside a metal sheath.
The metal sheath is the ground, not the bonding strip. Also called Armor-clad, AC, or BX.|
- The device (or transformer) that provides the current needed for fluorescent and HID lights. |
- A heavy duty type of circuit breaker for commercial / industrial use.|
- The connecting of electrical items to a single earth ground.
All items having the exact same path and potential to ground.|
- Device for mounting electrical fixtures and their wiring in walls and ceilings.
Common varieties include new work, old cork, single gang, two-gang, fan, and junction.|
- One of many power supply wires starting at the circuit breaker panel or fuse box,
(serving a single device or several).|
- A special electrical connector for splicing the conductors of heavy cables.|
- The "live" part(s) inside the circuit breaker panel in which circuit breakers connect to for power.|
- A threaded protector screwed to the end of a nipple or connector.|
- A brand name of armored cable. |
- Typically, a group of individual conductors bundled together.
Also a name for electrical conductors bigger in size than wire. |
- The full circle path of electrical current. |
- An over-current protection device.
The operating device used to open or close (off / on) a power supply circuit.|
- The current carrying wire, cable or bus-bar.
May also refer to anything that carries current, intended or not.|
- The rate of flow of electricity. |
- When conductors run from one device to the next.
Saves wire, but if one device fails, all downstream devices are affected. |
- Electrical items (such as switches, receptacles, timers, thermostats, dimmers, etc.) made for outlet boxes|
- The conductors (or cable) from a main service panel supplying power to a sub-panel. |
- A coiled spring-steel line used for pulling, or fishing, cable and wire through enclosed spaces. |
- Accessories such as bushings and clamps that serve a mechanical rather than an electrical function. |
- A set of three switches wired to control the same fixture or group of fixtures. |
- An over-current protection device that contains a thin strip of metal that will melt and open the circuit
in case of circuit overload. Must be replaced after a circuit overload.|
- The measure of the size of a wire.
The smaller the number, the thicker the wire and the higher its current-carrying capacity.|
- An oversize cover plate designed to hide a rough patching job around a box.
Note that drywall and plaster must be repaired to within 1/8" of any box; larger gaps may not simply be hidden behind a goof plate.|
- The connection of a wire, cable, connector or hardware that will safely conduct current to the earth.|
- The leaking of current to the grounding conductor. |
|Ground-fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
A device designed to interrupt the flow of power when a minuscule imbalance is detected between the flow and return of current.|
- A type of incandescent lighting - lamp, bulb and lighting fixture (also known as "Quartz").|
- High Intensity Discharge.
A type of lighting fixture - High Pressure Sodium (HPS) or Medal Halide (MH).|
|High Bay Lighting
- A type of lighting fixture used for very high ceilings - High Pressure Sodium (HPS) or Medal Halide (MH).|
- A wiring term for communications and structured wiring, when conductors are run from each device back to the source.|
- Current is present. A hot lead is the one carrying current along a circuit. It usually has black or red insulation.
A hot circuit is one in which the breaker is closed and current is present.|
- The unseen portion of a lighting fixture, vent fan, speaker, etc. that is installed before drywall.
A specifically designed outlet box mounted in the "open-stud" stage of a renovation project.|
- A material that is a poor conductor of current and therefore used to shield wires, cables, and connectors.|
- Chain used to as a secondary support for lighting fixtures.|
- A box containing splices in cables. Has a removable cover that must be accessible (cannot be buried in ceilings and walls).
Also called a J-box.|
|Knob and Tube
- The oldest system of wiring in which individual, loom-covered hot and neutral conductors were run using porcelain
knobs to support the wires along framing members and porcelain tubes to protect wires passing through framing members.|
- A partially prepunched opening in a box that is removed to allow the entry of cable. A knockout that is mistakenly
opened or is open because a cable is removed must be filled with a knockout seal.|
- Local Area Network.
The modern term for intercom, cable TV, telephone, security systems, etc. LV wiring (or Multi-Media).|
- Hot, power is present.|
- Used to terminate conduits or connectors to a box or cabinet.
A threaded ring with teeth for proper bonding.|
- Used to terminate a wire. A special electrical connector for connecting the conductors of heavy cables.|
- A common name for the hardware used to support an electrical outlet box.|
- A common name for hardware with bolt-through ends used to support electrical cables, wires, etc.|
- The modern term for intercom, cable TV, telephone, security systems, etc.
LV wiring (or non-electrical power wiring).|
- National Electrical Code.|
- Commonly, the return conductor in a circuit. It usually has white insulation.
More properly called the grounded conductor because it returns current to ground at the service panel.
Note that this is different from the green-sheathed or bare copper grounding conductor that does not
carry current except in case of equipment fault.|
- The bar with many set screws inside an electrical panel box where neutral wires are connected
to the main incoming neutral conductor.|
- A term used for working electrical items to a new wall or ceiling.|
- A threaded pipe for containing a group of wires, used to couple electrical boxes, panels, etc.|
- The measure of electrical resistance.|
- A term used for working electrical items to an existing wall or ceiling (without demolition).|
- A circuit in which the flow of current is interrupted due to an open breaker or fuse.
May be intentional or unintentional (as caused by a short).|
- The opening in a wall or ceiling with an electrical box, made ready for the installation of electrical devices
such as receptacles, switches, light fixtures, speakers, etc.|
- To run equipment or wire in excess of its normal full-load rating.|
- A short length of wire attached to an existing wire or wires.|
- A system in which the slots/blades for the hot leads are narrower than those for the neutral leads.|
- A special plastic piping system.|
- The custom built channel (plastic or metal) used to run wires or cables from one point to another.|
- Lighting fixtures recessed or built-in to the ceiling (also known as "High Hats").|
- Wire type - Plastic covering over a group of wires. A brand of nonmetallic-sheathed cable.|
- Wiring installations before drywall.
Any wiring installed in the "open-stud" stage of a renovation project.|
- The point where the electrical service enters the property, becoming your responsibility instead of the electric
- Usually installed near the service entrance, this panel contains the main switch or circuit breakers
used to distribute power through out the property. The main power source and main grounding source.|
- An accidental connection between two conductors or between a conductor and ground
or some other unintended surface.|
- A standard light switch with off and on positions for controlling flow of current to one or more devices.|
- A receptacle in which each of the two outlets is wired on a different circuit or in which one outlet is always
live and the other is switched. Also called split-wired.|
- A common name for wiring termination connectors.|
- A common name for hardware used to support electrical cables, wires, etc.|
- A common name for heavy duty hardware used to support electrical conduits, (Uni-Strut System).|
- Common names for the variations of electrical power. Un-predictable current. |
- A pair of switches wired to control the same fixture or group of fixtures.|
- Devices or cord connectors that lock and connect together by a quick twist.|
- Underwriters ' Laboratories is a nonprofit organization that tests electrical devices to
assure their compliance with the NEC.|
- The name for heavy duty 10ft. lengths of a special support system.
Hardware used to support electrical conduits, panels, etc.|
- or Voltage. The measure of electrical pressure.
Normal property voltages - 120V., 277V., 208V, 240V., 480V.|
- Another term for an outlet box.|
|Watt - The basic measure of electricity.
Amps x volts = watts.|
- Plastic covered wiring connector with a metallic pressure coil inside.
A brand of twist-on wire connector.|
Information about Electrical Receptacles:
Be sure the power is turned off to that circuit (or shut all power off).|
To begin removing the existing device(s), remove the wall plate and test for voltage first.
Then remove the two mounting screws and pull the existing device forward as far as the wires will reach.|
Take notice of all the wiring connections to the existing device before removing them (colored wires, screw connections, wire nut connections, etc).
Also take notice of the colored screws (dark, silver, brass, green, etc.). Correct wiring is very important! Then cut the wires off close to the
device or loosen the screws to remove the wires. Other wires in the outlet box do not matter and should be left alone.|
NOTE - If the existing wires have an insulation cover that is crumbling apart, an electrician should be brought in to complete this job!
|STEP 4. Make the wiring connections to the new device. Strip the wire insulation back 1/2" to 3/4".
Wire always wraps around a screw clockwise. Dimmer wires should be connected with spring insert type wire nuts. Make sure all connections are tight!
(More trouble calls are due to loose connections than any other reason). Wrapping electrical tape around the device to cover the screws can be a
good idea. It can provide temporary safety if the cover plate is to remain off during a painting or wall repair job.|
Some Helpful Tips:
3-way switch - odd color screw wire (from old device) to odd color screw (on new device) the other two wires do not matter.
- Standard dimmer - wire colors do not matter (unless it's a 3-way dimmer).
- Standard switch - wire colors do not matter.
- Standard receptacle - light colored screws connect to the white wire(s), dark colored screws connect to the black wire(s).
- G.F.I. Receptacle - same as a standard receptacle but watch out for the "load" connection
(input power does not get connected to the load or output side of a G.F.I. receptacle).
Grounding a device properly is your responsibility.
Metal boxes should be grounded and devices should be grounded (your voltage tester will be used to test the ground when the power is turned back on).|
Folding the wires back into the wall outlet box should be done with care. Some wall outlet boxes may lack space due to other wires and other wire nuts.
Also take notice that the ground wire does not come close to any screws on a switch or receptacle (instant short circuit).
Make sure that the device can freely touch the wall surface (top & bottom) without crushing the wires inside.|
Install the two screws and turn the power on. Test the device for polarity and grounding with your voltage tester (the voltage should be the same
from "hot to ground as neutral to ground). Install the wall plate.|
When you need an electrician
A handy person can usually perform some of the simple electrical jobs. We want to stress the importance
that all electrical jobs must be done mechanically correct and according to the local codes. Incorrect electrical work is very common. Most folks try to
save money by doing it themselves but, at the same time they may create situations that are costly to cure. We always recommend hiring a licensed
electrical contractor. Here are some things you should know :
- 3-way Switch - is double operation switching for lighting from two or more locations.
If you confuse the wiring you may never make it work right. This is the most common error made by a non-electrician.
- Very Old Receptacles or Switches - If the existing devices are older then yourself, you won't want to deal with them.
The photos of receptacles (on the right) have very old wires inside, they are short and fragile!
- Aluminum Wiring - All work dealing with aluminum wiring and/or cables must be performed by an electrical contractor.
Please don't try it.
- Electrical Problems - Replacing switches and/or receptacles usually will not solve electrical problems,
unless you feel certain the problem is limited to that device only.
- New Wiring Installations - Any new wiring installations and/or electrical service work should always
be performed by an electrician. Your safety and property are at stake!
- Understanding the Do-It-Yourself Instructions - If any of the instructions on this page are
unclear to you - Call an electrical contractor.