ElectricalHow Does Electricity Work?

For thousands of years, the power of electricity remained a mystery to humanity. Ancient civilizations created gods to account for the lights that arced through the clouds and struck the ground during storms: Zeus, Odin, Teshub, Indra, The Thunderbird. Science began to make strides in understanding electricity in the 17th century, and in the 19th electrical engineering managed to harness the power that changed human life. No longer a strange phenomenon or a bizarre toy, electricity changed into an essential part of everyday existence. In your daily life in Lynnwood, WA, electrical power is a must.

But how does electricity actually work? People may know how electrical items work, like a light bulb, but how does the energy itself operate? It would take a long discussion to fully explain, but our staff at G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. will give you a short version:

Electricity starts as an electric charge, which is a basic property of subatomic particles. This creates and gives rise to electromagnetic force, one of the four basic forces of nature. (The other three are gravitational, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear.)

Three properties are essential for electricity: voltage (the force that moves an electrical charge), amperage/amps (the measure of the amount of electrons the voltage is moving), and resistance (the force that intensifies the energy of the electrons).

When the electrons in an atom that carry an electric charge are excited into motion, it is known as electric current. The force that moves the electrical charge is EMF (“electromotive force), or more commonly, voltage.

Voltage moves the current through a circuit, which consists of the source (e.g. a battery), the load (e.g. a light bulb), and two conductors (e.g. wires) that carry the current from the source to the load. The electrical source must have a positive and negative terminal. The negative terminal pushes electrons along the circuit to the load and then runs back to the positive terminal on the source, creating a full circuit. We measure the amount of electrons moving to the source in amps.

We now come to the final element: resistance. Just as water pressure becomes higher when it flows through a smaller pipe, electrons press closer when they move through a circuit with high resistance. This compression intensifies the energy of the electrons. The build-up from resistance is what creates most of the electrical power you use when you switch on a light, a computer, or an electric oven.

This only scratches the surface of hundreds of years of study into one of the basic properties of life. If you encounter trouble with electricity in your home, and you need voltage to start moving the electrons again, so resistance can crowd the amps together and give you enough power, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We can help with professional electrical service in Lynnwood, WA.


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