Alternating Current (AC) – A current flow whose direction changes in regular cycles.
American Wire Gauge (AWG) – The North American standardized wire and cable-sizing system for identifying wire diameter of copper conductors. The higher the gauge number, the smaller the cable.
Ampacity – Also known as “current carrying capacity,” it is the capability of handling electric current, as expressed in amperes.
Arc Resistance – The time it takes for an arc to create a conductive path in a material.
Attenuation – Expressed in decibels (db) per unit length, it is the loss of power in an electrical system.
Braid – A covering of one or more wires made from fibrous or metallic filaments that are interwoven in cylindrical form.
Breakdown Voltage – The amount of voltage at which the insulation between two conductors or a conductor and ground deteriorates.
Bunch Stranding – The twisting of wires together within the same frequency, in order to achieve a specific gauge.
Conductivity – A term describing the capability of any material to carry an electrical charge, typically expressed in terms of the percentage of conductivity of copper, which has 100% conductivity.
Conductor – Any material in which electrons can freely move from atom to atom (i.e. electrical current flow). Conductors, which are usually metal, could be a wire that is solid or a stranded multi-wire cable.
Conduit – A tube or trough through which wires and cables are run.
Continuity Check – A test used to determine if an electrical current will flow continuously throughout the length of a wire or cable.
Dielectric – An insulating material used in a cable to shield one conductor from another.
Direct Current (DC) – Electric current that flows in one direction only.
Electrical Circuit – The complete path of an electrical current. An electrical circuit is considered to be an open circuit when the continuity is broken and a closed circuit when continuity is maintained.
Fatigue Resistance – Resistance to the crystallization of metal, eventually leading to the breakage of conductors and wires due to flexing.
Flanged Inlets/Outlets – A flanged nylon housing that permits mounting in a panel on the front of the equipment for an electrical inlet or outlet, which is held in place by screws and bolts.
Frequency – The number of times an alternating current repeats its cycle in one second, measured in Hertz (Hz). The standard international frequency is 50Hz, while the standard North American frequency is 60Hz.
Gauge – An indication of the physical size of a wire or the wire diameter specifications. The number of the gauge is in an inverse relationship to the size of the wire (i.e. the larger the wire, the smaller the gauge number).
Ground – A complete circuit accomplished through a conductive connection between an electrical circuit and the earth or another large conducting body.
Hi-pot – A test applied to a cable to determine whether any damage has occurred during shipment.
High Voltage – Generally considered to be any operating voltage over 600 volts.
IEC 60320 – Formerly “IEC 320,” it is the International Electrotechnical Commission standard that applies to a series of connectors, plugs, outlets and inlets designed for use on electrical or electronic equipment, including such portable equipment as computers, printers and medical equipment.
Insulated Wire – A conductor of electricity covered by a non-conducting material.
Insulation – Any material having high resistance to the flow of electric current that protects the inner conductors of an electrical cord.
Jacket – Material, usually extruded plastic or elastomer, that covers wire and cable, providing protection and additional insulation.
Line Cord – A cord that ends with a plug at one end and is utilized for connecting equipment to a power outlet.
Molded Plug – A connector molded on one or both ends of a cable or cord.
Multiconductor – A cord or cable complex containing more than one conductor.
National Electric Code (NEC) – A compilation of wiring practices and requirements from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Neoprene – Also called “polychloroprene,” it is a synthetic rubber that has good resistance to chemical, oil and flame.
Ohm – A unit of measurement referring to electrical resistance.
Outlet – A female connection that supplies access to electricity from a source of power.
Pin and Sleeve – A receptacle, connector or plug that has round pins or sleeve-type contacts.
Plug – Also called an “attachment plug,” it is the cable mount portion of an electrical connection or male contact device that has pins or blades protruding from the face.
ROJ – Removal of jacket, length of exposed conductors on a pigtail cord.
Sheath – Often referred to as a jacket, it is the material that is applied to the outermost part of a wire or cable. Sheaths are typically made of extruded plastic or elastomer.
Shield – In cables, a metallic layer that prevents electrostatic or electromagnetic interference between wires and external fields when placed around a conductor or group of conductors.
Signal – An information conveying current, including digital, analog, audio and video information.
Single Phase – An electrical circuit that has a neutral, a line and a ground.
Socket – A device that establishes an electrical connection with plugs through tension connections. Sockets could be metal contacts that are either bent to receive the blade or pin or spring-loaded.
Surge – Also called a “transient,” it is the temporary and relatively large increase in the voltage in an electric circuit or cable.
Three-phase – An electrical circuit that holds three lines and a ground or three lines, a neutral and a ground.
Voltage Rating – The maximum voltage that can be continuously applied to a wire in conformance to standards or specifications.
VW-1 – Formerly designated as “FR-1,” it is a rating established by UL for wire and cables that pass a specifically designed vertical flame test for flammability.
W – Any cord that is designated by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) for outdoor use.
Watt – A unit of measurement that refers to electric power.
Wire Gauge – Any standard system of numerical designations for wire sizes (e.g. the AWG).