In today’s issue of Layman’s Terms, we’re going to have a look at some terminology related to power and energy.

Power Cycling: Essentially, power cycling is a fancy way of saying ‘hard reset.’ It involves cutting the power to a device, then restoring the power. You can either do this by manually cutting the device off from it’s power source, or simply using the power button.

UPS: UPS stands for “Uninterruptible Power Supply.” This special form of power supply includes a battery pack that continues to provide power to a device in the event of a power failure. Many data center servers utilize UPS’s in order to cut downtime as much as possible, since even a few hours can end up costing them millions. The two basic types of UPS are Standby Power Systems (which switch to battery power as soon as they detect trouble) and On-Line UPS’s (which are essentially SPS’s which provide constant power from their battery backup, in order to avoid the lag that occurs with SPS’s).

Alternating Current/Direct Current: Direct current is electrical current that constantly flows in one direction, and generally remains at the same polarity. It never changes its path, and moves constantly forward. Alternating current, meanwhile, reverses direction and/or polarity on a constant basis. You can read more about the two different types of electricity, and what makes Alternating Current useful, here.

Voltage Arrester: Essentially, a surge protector. Basically, it’s a device equipped with a grounding wire, which is designed to take effect whenever the voltage flowing from a circuit exceeds a set amount.

Dielectric: A Dielectric material is a material that’s very ill-suited for conducting electricity, such as rubber or plastic. Given how much electricity computers typically use, they’d be extremely dangerous if they didn’t incorporate such materials into their design- particularly the power supplies.

Diode: Basically, a “one way valve” of electrical current, an electrical component that sends electricity in only one direction. These are often used to emit light through the electricity that passes through them.