Can You Pass an Electrician School Entrance Exam?

Ian Fortey

Image: Monty Rakusen / Cultura / Getty IMages

About This Quiz

In 2017, about 4.03 trillion kWh of electricity was generated in the United States alone.  The average home uses about 10,400 kWh in a year. We've got electricity on a grand scale here, without a doubt. With all those electrons flowing around freely, it's no wonder there are so many electricians out there and there always seems to be a demand for more.  Having an understanding of and respect for how electricity works is an important skill and will likely remain so for a very long time to come.

Your average electrician has to understand a lot of things.  Just the math alone in figuring out resistance or power based on current or capacitance sounds utterly daunting to a layman, not to mention all the codes and standards that need to be adhered to when doing wiring and installations in a home or commercial environment.   A person could take years to master it all. But we don't need you to be a master!  If you think you know the basics, the stuff you might need to understand for an electrician's entrance exam, now's the chance to show your stuff.  Plug yourself into this quiz and prove you've got what it takes.  Will it be shockingly easy ... or not?

In what unit is electrical current measured?

Electrical current is measured in amperes. The ampere is usually abbreviated into "amps" and is named for Andre-Marie Ampere. It's proportional to the number of electrons flowing through a conductor past a given point in one second.

What does an ohm measure?

Ohm s a measure of electrical resistance. It was named for German physicist Georg Simon Ohm. The dictionary says it's a unit of electric resistance equal to the resistance of a circuit in which a potential difference of one volt produces a current of one ampere. Fun!

Of what material is electrical wiring in homes normally made?

Copper is far and away the most common material for wiring in North America. Other metals conduct electricity just as well, and some will do an even better job, but because of how resilient copper is, how well it conducts and the relative cost, it's the popular choice.

What do you call a device that can raise or lower voltage?

A transformer is a device that uses coiled wire to transfer electrical energy by way of a changing magnetic field. It transfers electric current from one circuit to another at a constant frequency while allowing the voltage to increase or decrease.

In what kind of current does a Wattmeter measure power?

A wattmeter measures current in alternating current (AC) and also direct current (DC). It measures the total power across a circuit. As you might expect based on the name, it measures the power in watts.

What exactly is direct current?

Direct current is current that flows in one direction, like from a battery. When power first started to be used for lighting in homes, it was direct current. Alternating current proved to be a superior choice and eventually replaced it.

What is a watt?

Watts are the unit of measurement used for electrical power. It's defined as a derived unit of 1 joule per second. It's named for Scottish inventor James Watt. During your average workday, you sustain an output of about 75 watts.

What law states that the current in a conductor is proportional to the voltage and inversely proportional to the resistance?

Ohm's Law was named for George Ohm, who studied electrical resistance way back in the years 1825. Even though it seems like one of the most basic tenets of the study of electricity today, critics really hated Ohm for suggesting it back in the day. Go figure.

What kind of outlet should be protected by an arc circuit breaker?

A bedroom outlet needs to be protected by an arc-fault circuit interrupter that breaks the circuit when it detects an electrical arc. It's required in bedroom outlets as a life-saving measure to prevent deadly bedroom fires.

What unit measures the pressure to force one ampere through a resistance of one ohm?

Alessandro Volta is the namesake for the volt, which is a unit of electrical potential or energy capacity. It's used as a measurement for residential and commercial electrical systems.

What is the benefit of a tamper-resistant outlet?

Tamper-resistant outlets should be installed according to according to the National Electric Code. They prevent children from inserting foreign objects like paperclips into the outlet and injuring themselves.

What kind of cover should be over an outdoor receptacle?

A bubble cover is an ideal cover for an outside outlet. Flat covers can protect an outlet but only when it's not in use. A bubble cover is able to close even when something is plugged in.

What does bonding do?

Bonding is sometimes confused with grounding, but it serves a different purpose. Bonding equalizes the voltage potential between conductive systems. This can stop you from being the path a current takes between systems, and can also prevent lightning strikes from causing fires.

What do you call the amount of flowing electric charge in one second?

Current is the flow of electrical charge. In practical terms, this is the flow of electrons moving through something like the copper wires in your wall. In a nutshell, that's what electricity in your house is, just a bunch of electrons in wires.

How much of the energy in a typical light bulb actually creates light?

A mere 10% of the energy that flows through a traditional light bulb actually produces any light. The other 90% becomes heat that the bulbs give off. That's why newer, energy-efficient bulbs are a much better option.

Roughly how much energy does a modern refrigerator use?

A modern refrigerator uses about 350 kWh per year, as an energy-efficient appliance. In the early '80s, a fridge might have used around 1400 kWh a year. Neither of those figures includes an ice maker, mind you.

According to electric code, what do you need in a hallway if it's at least 10 feet long?

If a hallway is at least 10 feet long then the plans for the construction of that hallway need to accommodate at least one outlet. That's, of course, a modern code so older homes may not follow along.

What renewable energy source is the most cost-effective source of electricity?

Solar power is remarkably cost-effective for both businesses and individual homeowners. A solar system will pay for itself. on average, after about 8 years. Many cities also offer rebates and incentives to switch to solar, further increasing the value.

What does a coulomb measure?

A coulomb is a measurement for electric charge. It's equal to the amount of electricity conveyed in one second by a current of one ampere. It was named for Charles-Augustin de Coulomb, who also got a law named for himself. Good job, Charles!

What color is a ground wire?

In an effort to make things easier and safer, wires are meant to be color coded and a ground wire should be green. Wiring a house with incorrect wire colors could prove incredibly dangerous for another electrician.

What do you call cord or wire that is heavy duty, oil and UV resistant and capable of handling 600 V?

SOOW cord or wire is heavy-duty, rubber-insulated that is oil-resistant as well as weather, water, and sunlight (UV) resistant. It's also one of the most popular choices for wiring in the world.

What is a mogul base?

A mogul base is a kind of large light bulb base. Because a larger base generally means more power, the bulb that fits with a mogul base is usually pretty big, like the sort of bulb you might find in an industrial setting.

What can you measure with a multimeter?

A multimeter doesn't have that name for no reason - it measures multiple things. A multimeter is capable of measuring current, voltage and resistance. They're remarkably common items and can be picked up at a hardware store for just a few dollars.

A typical outlet has two slots and then a small, half-oval opening. What's that half oval for?

The large slot in an outlet is neutral while the smaller one is hot. the half oval on the bottom is the ground. Older outlets will likely not have a ground, but that makes them more prone to shorting out.

How many amps does it take to cause heart failure in a human?

You would be able to detect 0.001 amps running through your body. 0.009 amps would shock you enough that you would pull away. At 0.5 amps, you run the risk of heart failure and if you get up to 1.5 you can literally burn your organs.

What is the NEC?

The National Electrical Code is what people refer to when they talk about any electrical system being up to "code." This is the set of rules and standards that apply to all electrical work.

About how much of the electricity generated in the US comes from nuclear plants?

About 1/5 of the power in the US is generated in nuclear power plants. Nuclear fuel undergoes a fission reaction, which in turn heats water. The heated water generates steam and that steam moves turbines to create electricity.

Technically there's a different between electrocution and electric shock. What is it?

Electrocution is a portmanteau word that originally meant "electrical execution." It was literally meant to refer only to people executed by electricity. In time it just came to mean any kind of electric shock.

What metal are the wires in a fuse made from?

Tin or a tin alloy is often used inside household fuses as opposed to copper for a very specific reason - tin has a lower melting point than copper and the wiring in the fuses is meant to melt if it overheats, thus safely breaking the circuit

What would you do with a megger?

A megger is another name for a megohmmeter, and it's used to measure insulation resistance. The resistance of insulation like cable jackets needs to be measured when things are installed and then as part of regular maintenance to make sure they are still working normally.

At a certain height off the ground, an outlet is not required to be tamper-proof. What's the height?

At 5.5 feet and above, an outlet is not required to be tamper-proof. Since a tamper-proof outlet is a safety precaution for children, at that height it's safe to assume most children won't accidentally come into contact with it.

What should be used to put out an electrical fire?

You never want to use water to handle an electrical fire, as water conducts electricity too well and can cause more damage as well as putting people in the area in harm's way as well. The best option is a CO2 or dry chemical powder extinguisher.

What does a capacitor do?

A capacitor stores an electric charge, kind of like a battery in the sense that it will hold and transmit electrons along a circuit. A capacitor's ability to hold a charge is called its capacitance, and the unit to measure that capacitance is the farad.

What do you call the path from an energy source through wires or devices and back to the energy source?

A circuit is the path energy travels, like a full circle back where it came from. This is easily visualized with a battery hooked to a light bulb by wires. It creates a circle with wire from the positive end of the battery to the bulb back to the negative end of the battery.

What do you call a substance capable of transmitting electricity?

Any substance that can transmit electricity is a conductor. This is obviously something like copper wire, but the reason we need to be cautious around electricity is that humans can also work as conductors.

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