How Do Electricians Use Trigonometry?

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Electricians need to know mathematical concepts to ensure that the wirings and electrical components they use will work according to the design. Without this knowledge, each circuit may not work and can even cause serious damage to a circuit. Trigonometric calculations are used in the day-to-day tasks of an electrician, such as bending conduits. Trigonometry is also a subject covered in examinations to be a master electrician.

Trigonometric Functions in Bending Conduits

Bending conduits is one the most basic tasks of an electrician. Conduit is one of the ways to wire a house for electricity. It offers certain advantages, such as protecting the electric wires from damage, bonding to the ground throughout the entire circuit, and enabling the user to add more circuits later on. Although the math in bending conduits is already built into a device called a hand bender, familiarity with trigonometric functions and tangent functions can help an electrician correctly bend the conduit into any angle.

A Clear Example of a Trigonometric Application

An offset bend is used to bend a conduit around an obstacle or move closer to a member of the circuit to make it easier to connect to the conduit. For example, an offset bend is needed to bend around a step that is 4 inches high and 15 inches wide. If an imaginary right triangle is created using these dimensions, the lengths of both sides are known for the offset bend but the Ø is still unknown. To calculate Ø, the tangent function is used by dividing the length of the opposite side by the adjacent side. This will give you the correct angle to bend the conduit, which in this case is 15 degrees.

Trigonometry in Electrician Licensure Examinations

Although doing trigonometric calculations is not something an electrician does every work day, it is a basic subject one needs to pass the electrician license examination at the master level. Trigonometry is used in calculating the missing values for problems involving alternating current. Therefore, a good knowledge of the trigonometric functions is essential.

Other Math Subjects Electricians Use

Electricians, in general, should have a good head for math. While trigonometry has been demonstrated to have a role, other fields in math also have day-to-day applications. For example, a solid knowledge of geometry allows an electrician to calculate conduit bending using the geometry of a triangle. A good grasp of algebra is fundamental in understanding basic concepts like the Ohm’s law or analyzing circuitry.


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