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Glossary of Terms

Energy Words

Watts, volts, amp, all those energy words can be pretty confusing. Here are some definitions that might help you understand.

Amp

This is short for "ampere" - it measures the amount of electricity moving through a wire. Amps are what give electricity its "shock." This term was named after the scientist who discovered it - physicist Andre-Marie Ampere (1775-1836).

Volt

A volt, or voltage, is the pressure that pushes the electricity through the wires. This is how electricity gets from the power plant to your house.

Professor Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) invented the first electric battery.

Watt

Watts, or wattage, named after the Scottish engineer, James Watt, is the unit of measurement of electric usage - the amount of power a device consumes. Wattage is equal to the amperage multiplied by the voltage (amps X volts = watts).

Kilowatt

A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts ("kilo" is Latin for "thousand"). This is how electric companies measure how much electricity your family uses at home. Kilowatt is abbreviated "kW."

Conductor

A conductor is a material that allows electricity to flow through easily. Most types of metal are good conductors of electricity – that’s why copper is used for electrical wiring inside your home.

Insulator

An insulator is a material that slows or stops the flow of electricity. The special gloves and sleeves that utility workers wear are made of rubber, which is a good insulator to protect them from electric shock.

 
   
 
 
 
 
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