Electricity Chapter 12 Glossary Terms

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  1. Direct Current (DC)
    Charged particles traveling through a circuit in one direction, are a direct current.

    Example; Electronic devices such as computers, phones and calculators all use direct current.
  2. Alternating Current (AC)
    Electrons moving back and forth between the positive and negative terminal of a circuit with a cell in it, as well as electrons just moving back and forth in a circuit is alternating current. Alternating current has zero net movement. 

    Example; Anything that plugs into a wall socket uses alternating current. However, this can be a little confusing since a phone uses DC and it's charger must also charge it with DC, but the charger plugs into wall sockets. You can tell what uses AC and DC by the type of charger. Electronic chargers usually have a "box" around the plug.
  3. Transformer
    A device that changes the size of potential difference in an alternating current.


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  4. Circuit Breaker
    A circuit breaker is a safety device placed in series with other circuits that provides safety from overheating in wires, and possible fires. Once a circuit breaker is activated you must reset it.


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  5. Fuse
    A fuse is also a safety device used to prevent overheating and possible fires, the only difference between a fuse and circuit breaker is that a fuse must be replaced once it's been activated.


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  6. Electrical Power
    The rate that an appliance uses energy. Measured in kW.

    Example; The electrical power of a clothes dryer is 400 W, 4 kW.
  7. Watt (W)
    A watt is a unit of power, equal to one joule per second.
  8. Kilowatt (kW)
    A kilowatt as previously mentioned is the unit used to measure electrical power. One kW is equal to 1000 W.
  9. Electrical Energy
    Electrical energy is how much energy an appliance uses at any given setting. You can find electrical energy by multiplying power rating and the amount of time the device was used.
  10. Kilowatt Hours
    The unit used to measure electrical energy
  11. Energuide Label
    A Canadian label that insures that the appliance being sold uses energy more efficiently compared to a standard product.
  12. Smart Meter
    A smart meter is used by electric companies to determine how much they will charge you for each kW per h at different times of the day (depending on the on/off peak prices)


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  13. Time of Use Pricing
    Companies charge differently depending on the time of day. These prices are adjusted twice a year because in the summer Air Conditioners are used during the day more, and not very much at night, and in the winter heaters are used in the evening/night more than the day. Companies also charge differently because of how much load is being put on the Ontario electricity generators.


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  14. Phantom Load
    The energy that is being used when the actual device itself isn't being used. When the charger of your phone is being used to charge your phone that's just regular energy. But when your phone isn't being charged, and the charger is still plugged into the wall then the energy that unused phone charger is acquiring is a phantom load. It is estimated that the average home as 50W of a phantom load.
  15. Efficiency
    Efficiency is how much of the energy on a device is actually being used. But in scientific definitions it's known to be the "ratio of useful energy output to total energy input expressed as a percentage" Efficiency can be calculated by;

     [(energy output/total energy input)(100)]
  16. Baseload
    The minimum amount of demand for electric power in a specific place.

    • Example; Ontario's base load is 12 000 MW
    • (1 MW=106  W)
  17. Hydroelectric Power Generation
    Electricity that is generated by water. It can be generated in two ways, dam stations or run-of-river stations. Dam stations are when the water falling in between different levels is used, and run-of-river stations in which flowing river water is used.
  18. Renewable Energy Source
    Energy sources that can be renewed in a short amount of time

    Example; Hydroelectric energy is renewable.
  19. Non-renewable Energy Source
    Energy sources that can be renewed in very long amounts of time, or not at all.

    Example; Fossil fuels are non-renewable.
  20. Intermediate Load
    An electricity demand that is bigger than the base load and is met by burning coals and natural gas.

    Example; Ontario's intermediate load is roughly 15 000 MW-20 000 MW.
  21. Peak Load
    The greatest demand for electricity that can be met by using hydroelectric power, natural gases and nuclear power.

    Example; Ontario's peak load is anything over 20 000 MW
  22. Solar Energy
    Electricity generated by the sun's energy.
  23. Photovoltaic Energy
    Direct current that is generated when certain materials are exposed to light.

    Example; The energy used in your calculator is a form of photovoltaic energy. Most often calculators have a strip at the top that generates energy whenever exposed to light.
  24. Biomass Energy
    Energy generated by plant and animal matter.
  25. Disclaimer: None of the photos used are mine.
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Electricity Chapter 12 Glossary Terms
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