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Electrical Terms & Definitions | Metric Conversion Tools | Links to Helpful Web Sites

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Electrical Terms & Definitions

AWG   - American Wire Gauge. A wire diameter specification. The lower the AWG number the larger the wire diameter.

TEW   - Canadian Standard Association type appliance wires. Solid or Stranded single conductor, plastic insulated, 105C, 600V.

THHN - 600V, 90C nylon jacketed building wire.

UL - Underwriters Laboratories is a not-for-profit, privately owned and operated product safety testing and certification organization. Based in Northbrook, Illinois, UL develops standards and test procedures for products, materials, components, assemblies, tools and equipment, chiefly dealing with product safety. UL also evaluates and certifies the efficiency of a company’s business processes through its management system registration programs. Additionally, UL analyzes drinking and other clean water samples through its drinking water laboratory in South Bend, Indiana.

CSA – Canadian Standards Association. Similar to UL in the United States.

IEEE   - Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. An international professional society that issues its own standards and is a member of ANSI and ISO.

Relay  - is an electrical switch that opens and closes under the control of another electrical circuit. In the original form, the switch is operated by an electromagnet to open or close one or many sets of contacts. Because a relay is able to control an output circuit of higher power than the input circuit, it can be considered, in a broad sense, to be a form of an electrical amplifier.

Resistor - is a two-terminal electrical or electronic component that resists an electric current by producing a voltage drop between its terminals in accordance with Ohm's law: R = V/I
The electrical resistance is equal to the voltage drop across the resistor divided by the current through the resistor. Resistors are used as part of electrical networks and electronic circuits.

Diode  - is a component that restricts the direction of flow of charge carriers. Essentially, it allows an electric current to flow in one direction, but blocks it in the opposite direction. Thus, the diode can be thought of as an electronic version of a check valve. Circuits that require current flow in only one direction typically include one or more diodes in the circuit design.

Capacitor - An electrical device capable of storing electrical energy. In general, a capacitor consists of two metal plates insulated from each other by a dielectric. The capacitance of a capacitor depends primarily upon its shape and size and upon the relative permittivity εr of the medium between the plates. In vacuum, in air, and in most gases, εr ranges from one to several hundred.

Lght-Emitting Diode (LED) - is a semiconductor device that emits incoherent narrow-spectrum light when electrically biased in the forward direction of the p-n junction. This effect is a form of electroluminescence. An LED is a small extended source with extra optics added to the chip that makes it emit a complex radiation pattern. The color of the emitted light depends on the composition and condition of the semiconducting material used, and can be infrared, visible or near-ultraviolet.

Short - A low resistance path that results in excessive current flow and often in damage.

Surge - A temporary and relatively large increase in the voltage or current in an electric circuit or cable.  Also called transient.

Suppressor - A device used to reduce or eliminate unwanted voltages in electric or electronic circuits.  For example, a resistance conductor in, or a resistor in series with, a sparkplug cable, to suppress interference which would otherwise affect radio reception in and near the vehicle.

STP - Shielded Twisted Pair.  Two wires, usually loosely wound around each other to help cancel out any induced noise in balanced circuits. Multiple pairs of wires are contained in one sheath, and each wire pair is shielded by another sheath.

Bus-Bar Wire - Uninsulated tinned copper wire used as a common lead.

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Metric Conversion Tools

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Links to Helpful Web Sites

Copper Report

DSIRE - Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

Indiana Gas Prices

US Customs and Border Protection

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