What is an Electrical Load in Circuitry? (for Electricians)

What is an Electrical Load in Circuitry

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What is an Electrical Load Video
(Resistive vs. Inductive Loads in a Basic Circuit for Electricians).

When you’re going to school as an electrician you may come across the term “Electrical Load”. This was confusing for me, but it’s actually REALLY easy to understand.

First, you have a power source, which is where power initially starts!

Then we have electrical loads that consume power from this power source when they are connected into the circuit.

Examples of an electrical load are things like:

  • Light Bulbs
  • Motors
  • TVs
  • Air Conditioners
  • Speakers

Devices like plugs and light switches ARE NOT electrical loads!

Electrical loads are what PLUG INTO the plug outlet, or the lightbulb that TURNS ON from the light switch.

An electrical load CONSUMES power from the power source.

Once you start understanding these basic electrical terms, you’ll be on your way, because the terms don’t change much within this electrical world!


Types of Electrical Load Symbols:

I think it’s important for you to see many of the common electrical diagram symbols you’ll be seeing when you go to school as an apprentice electrician.

The Resistor Symbol:

In super basic electrical circuits, we most often deal with 100% purely resistive loads. Here’s an example of what a resistor symbol looks like!:

Resistor Symbol for Electrical Diagram Circuits
This is the most common Resistor Symbol used on Electrical Diagram Circuits!

Lightbulb Symbol:

Along with the resistor symbol, the lightbulb symbol is one of your first electrical diagram symbols you’ll come across:

Lightbulb symbol for Electrical Diagram Circuits
This is a Lightbulb Symbol. It’s just telling you that there’s a light there that is carrying an electrical load. (It can be a single lightbulb, or an light with a built-in LED nowadays..)

Inductor Symbol:

Inductor Symbol
This is an Inductor Symbol (Iron Core). Note, there are a couple different inductor symbol styles depending on the type of inductor. The two lines indicate it’s an “iron-core inductor”.. this was the most common Inductor Symbol I saw in my electrical schooling!

Capacitance Symbol:

Capacitor Symbol
This is a Capacitor Symbol. Notice the left side is rounded. (I’ve seen some capacitors just have straight lines, but it can be confusing as a “contact” can have that same straight-line symbol.. so this rounded line is the easiest designation I’ve seen!)

Motor Symbol:

Motor Symbol (3 Phase Motor) for Electrical Diagram Circuits
This is a Motor Symbol. Notice is has A, B, C indicating it’s a 3-Phase Motor. (A Single-Phase motor would just have one line).

When I talked to you about Volts, Amps, Resistance, and Power, I told you that when we are dealing with motors, we can’t just apply Ohm’s Law directly, because a motor causes inductance, which means REACTANCE happens.


Recap: What is an Electrical Load

An electrical load is something that USES power from its power source.

Examples (like listed above) are:

  • Lightbulbs
  • Computers
  • Motors
  • Fans
  • TVs
  • Baseboard Heaters

Some of these electrical loads are purely resistive, meaning that you can apply basic Ohm’s Law math because resistance stays the same!

However, something like a computer, tv, or motor in an AC system causes what’s called REACTANCE, so the calculation starts getting more technical, and Pythagorean Theorem must be used!

Be sure to keep following the Electrical Theory posts on the website here!

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