Energy Explained

What is Electricity?

  • Electricity is the presence or flow of charged particles.
  • An electric current is the flow of electrons around a circuit.
  • Static electricity is the build up of electrons on an insulator.

All materials are made up of atoms that contain negatively-charged particles called electrons. These electrons can have positive or negative charges. Electricity is the presence or flow of these charged particles.

In metals the electrons are free to move, which means they are good conductors of electricity. If there is a complete circuit a battery can push electrons all around the circuit. This is an electric current. Electric current is the rate of flow of electric charge. No current can flow if the circuit is broken – for example, when a switch is open.

Electricity passes through metallic conductors as a flow of negatively charged electrons. The electrons are free to move from one atom to another. We use electric currents to control and operate devices, including phones, computers and light bulbs.

We measure electrical currents in Watts. Although it has become a standard for the amount of light to expect from a bulb, wattage is actually a unit of measure for energy use. Watts are basically the ‘miles-per-hour’ measurement of the electrical world, they tell you how fast the electrons are speeding down the highway.

Some materials do not conduct electricity, they are insulators. Static electricity is the build up of electrons on an insulator, but the good news is that electricity does not pass through an insulator. Which is why metal in a cable is covered in plastic or wire to insulate you from the electricity.

That’s the basics, here are a few videos to find out more about electricity, how it is measured and more: