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Both of these things run on electricity. I can't figure out why electrical equipment can't be electric equipment? Even after some research, I can't give the proper answer.

  • This is an interesting question. I don't know the answer. But there seems an inherent difference between an appliance which is driven by electricity e.g. car, vacuum cleaner, lawn mower, hedge-trimmer, where the adjective would be electric; and equipment which may be associated with the dissemination of electricity e.g generator, transformers, fuse boxes etc, and where speaking collectively of them, one would employ electrical. – WS2 Jan 27 '19 at 18:33
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    If you talk about individual pieces of equipment that run on electricity they are usually referred to as 'electric'. For instance electric drill, electric oven, electric light and, as you say, electric car. However some electrical equipment does not consume electricity, it generates, distributes, converts and measures it (for example generators, transformers, circuit breakers and meters): these are usually referred to as electrcal equipment. The general term is electrical equipment but that includes the more specific electric eqipment. – BoldBen Jan 27 '19 at 18:37
  • @BoldBen this is a useful question, and your comment would (with a reference or two) make a useful answer! :-) – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Feb 9 '19 at 1:08
  • But note that while generators may be electrical equipment, they are referred to as electric generators when discussing the device itself. My observation is that “electrical” means “having to do with electricity” whereas “electric” here, means “powered by electricity” or in the generator’s case, “providing electricity” – Jim Feb 10 '19 at 16:38
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The US legal definitions website defines electrical equipment as

any apparatus, device, integral component, or integral part used in an activity which is electrically, electronically, mechanically, or by legal prescription necessary to the process of generation, transmission, or distribution of electric energy.

There does not seem to be a formal definition of electric equipment but there are many devices that are described as an electric something. For example electric drill, electric car and electric cookers. The last site describes an electric cooker as

Electric Cookers use electricity to power both the grill/main oven and the hobs.

Internet searches for items like electric consumer units or electric transformer do return hits but, almost universally direct to pages which describe the equipment as electrical.

From this we can say that, in the main, if you talk about individual pieces of equipment that run on electricity they are usually referred to as 'electric'. For instance electric drill, electric cooker, electric light and, as you say in your question, electric car. However some electrical equipment does not consume electricity, it generates, distributes, converts and measures it (for example generators, transformers, circuit breakers and meters): these are usually referred to as electrical equipment. The general term is electrical equipment but that includes the more specific electric device.

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