Allied Electrical Electrical Jargon Buster

At Allied Electrical, we always strive to explain to customers exactly what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, but there is no escaping the jargon you may hear a registered electrician use when carrying out work; it comes as second nature when you’ve been doing it for as long as we have!

To help ensure you’re never left in the dark again, we’ve come up with a handy jargon buster. If you need any further explanation on the terms in this post – don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Accessories – You may hear this term or see it referenced on your bill – this is a general term used for any additional extras such as sockets, switches, adapters and connectors.

Amp (A) – ‘Ampere’ is the unit of measurement for the flow rate of an electric current.

Apprentice – Hide your biscuits from these.

BS 7671 – ‘British Standard (7671) The Wiring Regulations’, this document details the British Standard that all electrical installation work must adhere to.

Building Regulations – The building regulations are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations of almost every building – electrical work falls under ‘Part P’ of the building regulations.

Capping – Capping is a thin metal or plastic covering that is used to make it easier for several cables to follow the same route. It also protects fixed wall cables during plastering.

Circuit Breaker – A circuit breaker is a device that stops the flow of current in an electric circuit, should there be a fault.

Competent Person Scheme – Being part of a competent person scheme such as NICEIC allows electricians to self-certify work carried out without needing to get building regulations approval.

Consumer Unit – Often referred to as a fuseboard or fusebox, this unit is where the electricity in your premises is controlled and distributed. Many units we come across are old, outdated and dangerous – take a look our blog for five signs it's time to upgrade your consumer unit.

Cuppa – White and one, if you would.

Daisy Chaining – This refers to the act of plugging several extension leads into each other – this can cause electrical fires – if you're stuck for socket space, buy a larger extension cable or have new sockets installed.

DC – ‘Direct Current’ – In a DC, the current is only flowing in 1 direction, you will find a direct current in batteries and cells. In an AC (alternating current), the current is constantly changing direction – mains electricity in the UK is an AC supply.

Earthing – Earthing is done to prevent electric shocks by providing a path to earth for the current should there be a fault. Earthing also causes the protective device such as fuse or RCD to switch off the current in the event of a fault.

EIC – ‘Electrical Installation Certificate’ – This is a declaration of any new installation, alteration or electrical addition is safe at the time it is put in service.  You will receive one of these upon completion of electrical work in your home.

EICR – ‘Electrical Installation Condition Report’ – this is an official document that is produced following a periodic assessment of a premises’ electric installation. You can find out more about EICR’s and the recommended frequencies for different types of properties here.

Flush Fitted – Electrical accessories such as switches or sockets are often ‘flush fitted’ to look nicer – this means that their back boxes are contained in the wall and only the front plates are visible. You may find that electrical accessories in rooms such as the garage are not flush fitted.

Fuse – Almost everyone will have experienced a ‘blown fuse’ at some point. This safety device consists of a strip of wire that melts to break the electric circuit should the current exceed a safe level.

Fusebox / Fuseboard – See ‘Consumer Unit’.

Generator – A general term given to a device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Grounding – See ‘Earthing’.

HMO – House in Multiple Occupation – a property or residence occupied by 3 or more people who form 2 or more households. An HMO should have an EICR carried out every 5 years.

HV – High voltage

Incandescent Lightbulb – This type of lightbulb contains a wire filament heated to such a high temperature that it glows – they are a lot less efficient and more expensive to run than other types of electric lightbulb and thus have been phased out.

IR – ‘Insulation Resistance’, this is the measurement of how well an electrical circuit or piece of electrical equipment can handle the leakage of electricity.

Junction Box – A junction box is a box containing electric wires and cables, often used to extend circuits and direct power to additional electrical outlets. These boxes are usually made from plastic to protect the wiring inside.

Kilowatt (kW) – A measure of Watts in increments of 1,000. 1kW = 1,000 Watts.

Kilovolt (kV) – A measure of Volts in increments of 1,000. 1kV = 1,000 volts. Did you know that a single bolt of lightning can contain up to one billion volts of electricity!

LED – ‘Light Emitting Diode’ – LED lighting is a lot more efficient than halogen, CFL and incandescent bulbs, the bulbs cost more to purchase – but savings are made through lower energy bills and extended lifespan. Find out more about the benefits of LED here.

Live Wire – In a mains powered electrical appliance, the live wire (brown) carries the current to the appliances at a high voltage.

Live Conductors – Wires with an electrical current running through them.

LV – Low Voltage

mA – ‘Milliamp’ this is the equivalent of 1/1000 of an amp.

MCB – ‘Minature Circuit Breaker’. An MCB automatically switches off the electrical circuit if there is a fault such as an electrical overload.

MEIWC – ‘Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate’ – This is an EIC for minor electrical works where no new circuits have been added.

Neutral Wire – In a mains powered electrical appliance, the neutral wire (blue) completes the circuit and carries current away from the appliance.

NICEIC – ‘National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting’, well that's certainly a mouthful.  Contractors that are registered under NICEIC (like us) are assessed regularly to ensure that they are competent in adhering to various standards set out by NICEIC.

Overcurrent – An electrical overcurrent may damage insulation within cables that can cause electric shocks and pose a fire risk – an overcurrent occurs when an electrical current exceeds the maximum limit of a circuit.

Part P – ‘Part P of the Building Regulations’ states that anyone carrying out electrical installation work must ensure that the work is designed and installed to protect from fire and electric shocks. All electricians carrying out work in England and Wales must comply with Part P of the building regulations.

Portable Equipment – This term entails electrical equipment that is designed and capable of being carried or moved. This includes common household appliances such as fans, toasters, kettles etc.

Portable RCD – A portable RCD is a temporary solution that plugs into a socket that’s not already protected by an RCD. You should test your portable RCD before and after every use.

PAT – ‘Portable Appliance Testing’ this is the inspection and testing of electrical equipment to ensure that it is safe to use. Whilst PAT is not a legal requirement, landlords and business owners are legally required to ensure that their electrical equipment does not pose a danger to those they are responsible for.

Quote – As Which? Trusted Traders – we’ll stick to our quoted prices.

RCD – Residual Current Device – this life-saving device can be found inside your consumer unit designed to prevent fatal electric shocks – they work by cutting off the electricity when a fault such as a surge in electricity is detected. You should aim to test your RCD every 6 months - watch our handy video tutorial to find out how to trip test your RCD.

Rewire – An electrical rewire of a premises is the process of removing and replacing all accessible old wiring and accessories with new ones. We recommend a rewire if your home hasn’t been rewired in the last 30 years.

Socket Outlet RCD – These are RCD’s designed to protect 1 power outlet – these are often used in outdoor sockets for protection should a wire be cut when using electrical appliances for gardening or outdoor DIY.

Sparky – Slang for electrician.

Spur – An additional connection, often taken from an existing socket in order to provide a supply to a new socket.

Tripping – If your electricity is constantly tripping out it can be a sign of faulty wiring or an appliance causing a fault in the circuit.

VIR cables – ‘Vulcanised Indian Rubber Cables’, are an older type of cable that may still be present in some homes. These cables deteriorate over time especially when disturbed – if you spot them, don’t touch them and give an electrician a call immediately.

Volt (V) – Volt is the electrical unit of voltage or potential difference – we use specialist equipment to measure voltage when carrying out EICR’s.

Watt (W) – The energy consumed by an appliance or lightbulb per second is measured in watts.

Which? Trusted Trader – The Trusted Trader scheme from Which? is set up to protect consumers from rogue tradesmen. Traders must go through a rigorous assessment of their business and processes to become recognised. You can find more about the scheme and its benefits to customers here.

Xmas – Christmas is a wonderful time for all, but we see a surge in the number of electrical fires caused by fairy lights and overloaded power sockets. Take a look at our top tips for staying safe from electric faults this Christmas.

Zzz – The only noise you’ll hear from an electricians room after long days work.

More Help and Advice

So there you have it, we hope you found the jargon buster useful. If you’re confused about any of the above terms or are looking for a reliable electrician for your domestic or commercial premises; don’t hesitate to give one of our team a call on 0117 303 9000 or fill out a contact form below and we’ll get back to you.

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