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What symbols are used in an electrician's work?

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Quick Answer

The most common symbol found in electrical work and diagrams is a straight, horizontal line, which represents an electrical wire, a conductor of an electrical current. Other common symbols are horizontal and vertical lines connected by filled-in dots. These represent connected electrical wires that intersect at perpendicular angles.

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Full Answer

Electrical symbols become more complicated after the basic electrical wire and connected wire symbols. In electrical diagrams, one might find what looks like half of a vertical dumbbell pointing downward. The name of this symbols is Earth ground, and it is used a reference for zero potential and protection from electrical shock.

A resistor is represented by a zig-zagged horizontal line with two open circles on each end. It means that a resistor is present and is reducing the current flow of electricity. A resistor can also be represented by a rectangle with two horizontal lines on each end.

Another symbol is a circle containing a plus sign and minus sign with two horizontal lines on either side. It means that the item present generates constant electrical voltage. The same symbol with a right-facing arrow inside the circle represents an item that generates a constant current.

The symbol for a wattmeter is a circle with a W inside and two horizontal lines on either side. A wattmeter measures electric power.

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