When an electrician comes to your house, or when you’re looking at electrical items at the hardware store, you might be exposed to some language you absolutely do not understand. That’s completely understandable, as electric work is a highly specialized field that many homeowners don’t know about. To make it a little easier to understand, we provide some plain English definitions of some of the most frequently used electrical terms.

When you’re in need of electrical maintenance, repair or installation services, don’t hesitate to contact the licensed electricians at Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric. We’ve provided the homeowners in Lincolnshire, IL and throughout Chicago’s North Shore and Chicago’s Northwest suburbs with reliable and trustworthy service for decades.

Key Electrical Terms to Know

Unless you’re familiar with working with electricity, we recommend leaving electrical repair and installation work to the professionals to avoid damaging your electrical system and home and to limit the possibility of injuries. However, it’s always helpful to know what some of the key electrical terms are so you can better explain what the issue is to your electrician.


The rate of flow of electricity. There are two types of currents – alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC), which we’ll explain in more detail.

Alternating Current (AC)

Current in which the direction of the flow of electrons switches back and forth at regular intervals or cycles. The current that flows in power lines and normal household electricity that comes from a wall outlet is alternating current. The standard used in the U.S. is 60 cycles per second (i.e. a frequency of 60 Hz), meaning the direction changes 60 times a second.

Direct Current (DC)

Direct current moves in only one direction. Batteries and most electronic devices operate on DC current.


A material that conducts electricity. Copper is the most common conductor, while silver and occasionally gold can also be used.

Amperage (Amps)

The unit of measure of electric current. Think of it as the amount of water flowing through a pipe.

Voltage (Volts)

The force driving electrical energy through a conductor or copper and aluminum wire. Think of it as the pressure of the water flowing through a pipe.

Wattage (Watts)

A unit of electric power. Wattage is calculated as Voltage x Amperage.


A connection between an electrical device and the earth, or at the voltage defined as zero.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)

An electric wiring system that disconnects an electric circuit when it detects that the electric current is not balanced. Receptacles that may require a GFCI are located in bathrooms, garages, outdoors, in unfinished basements, kitchens, laundry/utility rooms and by pools or spas.

Why Hire Ravinia Plumbing for Electrical Work

When you hire Ravinia Plumbing for electrical repair or installation work, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that all of our electricians are not only knowledgeable and familiar with the latest codes, but they’re also properly licensed and insured. We are happy to provide you with proof of licensing and insurance coverage upon request.

We are a family-owned and operated company that understands how important electrical work is, as one mistake can put your home and family at risk. That’s why we go out of our way to hire only the most capable electricians in Illinois. The professional electricians at Ravinia Plumbing ensure electrical safety and proper installation of all electrical equipment and devices to minimize any risks and to ensure you’re receiving the safest, most reliable service in all of Chicago.

Contact Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric for Electrical Service

Don’t leave your home’s electrical needs to just any company; trust the licensed and professional electricians at Ravinia Plumbing. We’ve been in business since 1928, and we’ve made a name for ourselves as one of the most trusted and reliable plumbing, sewer, HVAC, and electrical companies in Chicagoland. Contact Ravinia Plumbing online, or give us a call today to schedule an appointment.