: What’s the basic concept of electricity, what is it and how does it work?



: What’s the basic concept of electricity, what is it and how does it work?

In: Engineering

Electrons can jump from atom to atom in conductive wires. If you imagine marbles filling a marble-sized pipe, pushing a marble into one end of the pipe will cause one to pop out the other side. The pressure (voltage) I push the marbles with determines the exit pressure. The rate at which I introduce marbles determines the mass flow (charge flow/current) of marbles per second.

So you have a property of matter called “charge”. You can have positive charge or negative charge. Negative charge carriers (electrons) can move easily through conductive materials, mostly metals. That movement of those electrons is known as electricity. One of the properties of a moving charge is that you can “induce” magnetic fields, and if you place that in proximity of a magnet, you can cause motion just through moving charges. That’s an electric motor.


Electricity is like a river, but instead of water it flows electrons. This flow of electrons can do work, just like a watermill with a waterwheel can grind wheat or saw wood. A larger number of electrons moving slowly can do just as much work as small number of electrons that move very fast. Just like water – if it’s a lot it can do a lot of work. Current of water is similar to electric current in that regard. Small but fast current can be the same as large but slower current. What makes river flow faster? A steep riverbed or a large body of water pressing from the river basin can make river go very fast. In waterfalls water falls the fastest near the bottom, because it had a lot of height to get accelerated. So one way of saying that is that the water had a lot of potential to do work when it was high. Similar to that there is electrical potential for electrons to do a lot of work. The potential difference is what we call voltage. If there is a lot of pressure behind electrons they can reach large speed and therefore do a lot of work. When we say there’s 9 volts in a battery it doesn’t mean that the river of electrons is already flowing – it means that there’s that much potential for them to flow.