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Electricity Jargon Buster

At Crown Energy, we’re passionate about making utility connections simple. But within the energy industry, sometimes there’s no escaping the jargon! We’ve put together a handy “Electricity Jargon Buster” to help you sail through the minefield of complicated terms and energy acronyms, so you’re never left in the dark.

BS7671: the UK national safety standard for the electrical installation work.

Building regulations: the minimum standards for the design, construction and alterations of most buildings. Electrical work comes under ‘Part P’ of building regs.

Consumer unit: also called a fuse box that is used to distribute electricity around a property. It has a main switch and individual fuses (or RCDs) for the various electricity circuits such as lighting, oven and sockets. The installation is the responsibility of an electrician.

Cut-out/service head: the link between the electricity power service cable and the internal wires in a property.

Distribution board (DB): a box (enclosure) that contains protective devices (fuses) for circuits in a large property.

Distributor ID: Great Britain is split into 14 distribution areas. Each area has a different distribution network operator that has a licence to distribute electricity.

Distribution network (DN): the network that carries lower voltage electricity to domestic, industrial and commercial customers.

Distribution network operator (DNO): company that’s licensed to distribute electricity, and owns and operates the cables and towers that bring electricity from the national transmission network to a property.

Ducting: a black plastic piping that holds underground service cables. It acts as a protective barrier against the elements along with any interference, digging etc.

Electrical contractor: a business that carries out specialised construction work related to the design, installation and maintenance of electrical systems.

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Energy distributor: the company that is responsible for providing power to your property. They own and maintain the distribution networks e.g. the power lines and wires that carry electricity to a building. Different areas have their own fixed energy distributor – you don’t have the flexibility to change this.

Electrical installation: a term usually applied to the complete electrical system within a property.

Electrical installation certificate (EIC): a safety certificate issued by an electrician (responsible person[s]) when they’ve completed any new electrical work or changes to existing electrics to confirm that the work has been completed to the UK national standard BS 7671.

Electrical installation condition report (EICR): an official document produced following a periodic assessment of a property’s electrical installation.

Energy supplier: the company that supplies electricity and is responsible for arranging the installation/removal of any required metering.

Fuse: a safety device that consists of a strip of wire that melts to break the electric circuit if the current exceeds a safe level. Most of us will have experienced a blown fuse at some point!

Fuse box: see consumer unit.

Isolator: also known as the main fuse. This isolates the electricity supply to a property and can only be removed by your electricity supplier.

kV (kilovolt): a measure of volts in increments of 1,000. 1 kV = 1,000 volts. One single bolt of lightning can carry up to 1 billion volts of electricity.

kW (kilowatt): a measure of power. 1kW = 1,000 watts.

kWh (kilowatt-hour): the standard unit of measurement for electricity. 1kWh is 1 kW (1,000 watts) used in one hour.

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Live wire: the brown wire that carries the current to appliances at high voltage in a mains electrical appliance.

Looped service: when two neighbouring properties share a single service cable.

Main: an underground cable or overhead line that distributes electricity to more than 1 property.

Main fuse: see isolator.

Meter tails:these are the cables that connect your meter to the main fuse. A qualified electrician can install or upgrade meter tails, but only your electricity supplier can connect it to your meter and the cut-out/ service head.

Meter operator: responsible for installing and maintaining metering and communications equipment.

Meter point administration system: each DNO operates an MPAS which holds information for each MPAN.

MPAN (meter point administration number): a 13-digit code that’s unique for every electric meter. It is also commonly referred to as a supply number or S number.

Multi utility: a property that requires more than one utility e.g. gas, water and electricity.

One plot domestic new connection: where there is a requirement for gas, electric or water service to be brought into a domestic new build/existing property through the installation of the relevant pipe/cable.

One off domestic service: the property has an existing connection(s) for other services but now requires another.

PAT (portable appliance testing): the inspection and testing of electrical equipment to make sure it’s safe to use.

Power service cable: the incoming power cable from the network that terminates at the cut-out and runs above or below the public highway.

Service cable: the cable which connects a property to the local mains. It will either go underground to the main or will be clipped to your house and go overhead to a pole.

Single phase connection: a single wire that connects a property with a standard amount of energy.

Smart meter: this can communicate directly with your energy supplier so you don’t have to wait in at home for someone to read your meter.

3-phase connection: 3-phase connections wrapped up in one connection to supply higher demands of power e.g. electric gates and stair lifts.

Transmission network: the network of cables and pylons that transmits higher voltage electricity from power stations to wherever its needed.

Volt (V): the electrical unit of voltage or potential difference.

Watt (W): the unit in which energy consumed by an appliance/lightbulb per second is measured.

Hopefully our “Electricity Jargon Buster” has been useful to you. You can find more helpful information on our utility FAQ page to help answer many of the questions we get from our customers. You can also call and speak to our utility experts about your specific needs and requirements by calling us on 0161 549 8454.

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