# 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

F = Farads

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)

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