Electricity Facts

Electricity Facts

Facts about Electricity


Understanding these facts about electricity will help someone who is a beginner understand how electricity works. Electricity is similar to water since the flow of electricity is like the flow of water. Instead of water, electricity is simply the flow of electrons. Electrical current is similar to the volume of flow of water. In electricity, we call electricity flow current. For water flow we may measure the flow in gallons per minute or liters per minute, but for electricity flow current is measured in Amps. The word amp is shortened from the original word ampre, which was named after André-Marie Ampère. Using the same comparison of electricity to water, another important measure of electricity is voltage. Voltage is compared to water pressure. Water pressure is used to make things move or do work. For example, high pressure water is used to pressure-clean the siding of houses. Higher voltages also have this ability. Higher voltage batteries have the ability to make motors move faster than low-voltage batteries.

The History of Electricity


  • Recorded scientific discovery of electricity starts with Otto Von Guericke. Although Von Guericke is well-known for inventing the vacuum, his contribution to electricity was creating a device that generated static electricity.

  • Between 1745 and 1746 Ewald Georg Von Kleist and Pieter Van Musschenbroek independently invented a jar that stores static electricity on the inside and outside of the jar. This jar became known as the Leyden Jar which is the city where Pieter Van Musschenbroek lived.

  • With the invention of the Leyden Jar, other scientists now had a way to store and experiment with electricity.

  • Between 1785 and 1791 studied and wrote important work related to electricity and magnetism. This work helped him develop the theory now known as Coulomb's Law.

  • In 1800 Alessandro Volta developed the voltaic pile, which was the first battery that created electricity from chemicals. The electricity produced from the voltaic pile helped give scientists another source of electricity. Today the unit of measure that describes electricity pressure is known as a volt, named after Alessandro Volta.

  • In 1827 Georg Ohm developed laws based on the experiments he conducted DC voltage from the voltaic pile. His laws are now famously know as Ohm's Law. This was one of the first set of mathematical principles to help other scientists predict the behavior of an electrical circuit.

  • In 1879 Thomas Edison invented the first practical light bulb. By the year 1882, demand for the light bulb resulted in Edison building the first DC power plant to sell to customers of the light bulb.

  • Using designs by Nicoli Tesla, in 1891 George Westinghouse started to develop AC power plants to overcome the limitations in the range of power distribution from Edison's DC power plants.

lightning

People have seen lightning in the sky for many years. Although we still cannot harness the electricity from lightning, in the last 200 years we have begun to understand how electricity works.

Facts about Electricity Power and Electrical Batteries


  • Electricity is generated in similar ways at most power plants. For hydroelectric power, wind power, coal-power, natural gas power and nuclear power a turbine or generator is turned resulting in the production of DC power. For nuclear, coal and natural gas energy, the turbine is turned from heating water until it steams. The steam turns the turbine. For hydroelectric and wind power, the water or wind directly turn the turbine.

  • Power generated from a solar panel is not created from a turbine. Power is made because the semiconductor solar panels create movement of electrons as sunlight contacts the panel. The electron movement generates DC power.

  • Currently, about 80 percent of the electricity used in the world is generated from fossil fuels (coal, propane, natural gas, heating oil) and nuclear power plants.

  • Renewable energy from solar, wind, etc. only supplies about 4 percent of the world's energy needs.

  • There are two types of electricity including alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) power. AC electricity is the power we get from wall outlets in our house. DC electricity is stored and released by batteries.

  • AC electricity is very dangerous. Even a the electricity from a wall outlet can kill a person, so please be very careful around electricity.

  • Lightning is not specifically known to be either AC or DC electricity. It can vary.

  • AC power was developed because it is more efficient to move it from one place to another. AC current travels in a wave and has much less loss over a power line. If AC power were not developed, we would need a power plant near our house or school to have the same electricity we have today.

  • DC power is used by most electric motors and electronically controlled toys and household appliances.

  • Transformer circuits are used in these devices to convert the AC (wave) electricity to DC electricity.

  • Toys and electronics typically use batteries for power. Batteries store and release DC power. Most modern electronics use rechargeable batteries. This type of battery typically uses transformed AC power, plugged into a wall outlet, to convert the electricity to DC to recharge the battery.

hydroelectric power

Hoover dam is an example of a place that uses water to make electricity. The water above the dam is used to generate electricity. This is called hydroelectric power.

electricity facts - power lines

Today power transmission lines carry electricity in the form of alternating current (AC) over long distances.

Facts about Parts Used in Electrical Circuits


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