We use electricity every day, but how much do we really know about it? Energy awareness is increasingly important today as prices rise and renewable alternatives are becoming more common. We all take electricity for granted. We use it so much for everything that we don’t even think about where it comes from or what processes it takes to run common appliances like televisions, fridges, and computers. It is important to learn what you can about electricity, and the following information will help you do just that. Once you know the misconceptions, you will be closer to the truth and have a deeper understanding of the thing we are so dependent on in our everyday lives.
Storing and Using Electricity
Electrons, the particles that have a charge and give us electricity. They move to provide current. Batteries in devices and cars are relied on to start our items and allow us to use them. Did you know batteries do not actually store electricity? It may be hard to believe that when you charge a battery it is not actually storing the electrons that give it the electric charge. Batteries constantly replace electrons as they move. When they leave one terminal, they are replaced at the other terminal. They do not actually run out of charge. As batteries age they lose the ability to move electrons efficiently. When the electrons cannot move like they need to, then you do not get a current, or electricity. Batteries are filled with chemicals. Once the reactions have been exhausted a battery will no longer produce a charge.
Charges Move Through Empty Wires Quickly
When you think of a complete circuit you have a negative terminal, a connector (or wire) and a positive terminal. That is the basic circuit. Of course most circuits are much more complex than that with junctions, splits and resistance. The idea that the wire is empty is a simple thought, but it is an incorrect assumption. In reality the wire is already filled with tons of electrons that are all moving all the time. There is resistance when these electrons are filtered through a smaller wire, for instance. When a circuit is complete, the movement of electrons from one terminal to the other is instant. This is why lights come on as soon as we hit the switch.
Electric Current is the Flow of Energy Because Electricity is a Type of Energy
This is a statement that you can read if you put together a couple of encyclopaedia or dictionary definitions for electricity and electric current. This is not completely true. While electrical energy does exist, it is not electricity. Electrical energy is in fact electromagnetic energy that is measured in Joules. This is different from the Coulombs measurement of the electricity we use. This common misconception is due to the fact that energy and charge are very different. Electrical energy takes the path of least resistance, flowing from the source to the outlet (battery to light bulb) and leaving as light. Electricity flows in a circular never ending path until the circuit is broken. Batteries can convert electricity to electrical energy by other processes.