 # Understanding Basic Electrical Abbreviations

Electrical abbreviations play a crucial role in the daily work of engineers and technicians in the field, as they provide a consistent and efficient means of communication. These abbreviations act as a common language, allowing professionals to quickly and accurately convey technical information related to electrical systems and components. This not only streamlines communication but also reduces the potential for misunderstandings and errors. Electrical abbreviations are relied upon everyday by professionals in HVAC, telecommunications, manufacturing, and countless other industries.

Here is a list of common electrical abbreviations:

Current
DC = Direct Current
AC = Alternating Current
VDC = Direct Current Voltage
VAC = Alternating Current Voltage
A = Ampere
mA = Milliampere = (1000 mA = 1 A)
μA = microampere (1,000,000 μA = 1 A)
kA = kiloampere (1 kA = 1000 A)
VA= Volt Amp
I = Common symbol for current in mathematical formulas

Voltage
V = Volt*
mV - millivolts (1000 mV = 1 V)
kV - kilovolts (1 kV = 1000 V)
E = Common symbol for voltage in mathematical formulas
(*I.S.O. standard indicates “U” to be used for voltage)

Resistance
Ω = Ohm
kΩ = Kilo-ohm (1 kΩ = 1000 Ω)
MΩ = Megaohm (1 MΩ = 1,000,000 Ω)
R = Common symbol for resistance in mathematical formulas

Ohm's Law
E = Voltage I = Current R = Resistance
E = I x R     (Example: I = 20mA, R = 500Ω Therefore, E = .020 x 500 = 10V)
R = E/I    (Example: E = 1.35V, I = 10mA Therefore, R = 1.35/.010 = 135Ω)
I = E/R        (Example: E = 120V, R = 50Ω Therefore, 120/50 = 2.4A)

Power
W = Watt
mW = milliwatt (1000 mW = 1 W)
kW = kilowatt (1 kW = 1000 W)
MW = megawatt (1 MW = 1,000,000 W)
(*I.S.O. standard indicates “P” for power)

Power Calculations
W = E x I
Example: E = 24V, I = 260mA Therefore, 24 x .260 = 6.24W

W = R x I2
Example 1: R = 100 , I = 3A
100 x 32 = 100 x 9 = 900W
Example 2: R = 500 , I = 20mA = .020A
500 x .0202 = 500 x .0004 = .2W or 200mW

W = E2/R
Example: E = 24V, R = 100, Therefore, 242/100 = 576/100 = 5.76W

Capacitance
μF = microfarads (1,000,000 μF = 1 F)
nF = nanofarads (1,000,000,000 nF = 1 F)
pF = picofarads (1,000,000,000,000 pF = 1 F)

Inductance
H = Henry
mH = millihenry (1000 mH = 1 H)
μH = microhenry (1,000,000 μH = 1 H)

Frequency
Hz = Hertz
kHz = kilohertz (1 kHz = 1000 Hz)
MHz = megahertz (1 MHz = 1,000,000 Hz)
GHz = gigahertz (1 GHz = 1,000,000,000 Hz)

Impedance
Z - Impedance (measured in Ω)

Conductance
S - Siemen
mS - Millisiemen (1000 mS = 1 S)

Are you looking for HVAC training? Belimo offers unlimited access to a library of high-quality, current, and engaging HVAC video tutorials from industry experts. Participants have told us that Belimo training has given them the skills necessary to improve their HVAC skills.