How does Electricity work?

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How electricity actually works?

Electricity is all around us, it powers our world and bodies. You flip the switch and instantly the light comes on. How is this possible, how does electricity really work? Where does it come from? In this article we will give you a brief explanation.

The History of Electricity

Humans have been interested in using electricity for thousands of years. The first records of electrical use come from the Roman Empire. An author and natural philosopher named Pliny the elder and a court physician named Scribonius Largus spoke of how patients suffering from illnesses such as gout or headaches were advised to touch electric fish like electric catfish or rays to cure them. The idea behind this was that the electric shock would heal these conditions.

Early 18th century the advancement of electricity began to pick up. Benjamin Franklin was able to prove that lightning was a form of static electricity. The 1st battery with the ability to continually sustain electric flow was created by Alessandro Volta in 1800. Following this progression, the 1st electric motor was invented in 1821 by Michael Faraday.

Other inventors’ worth noting are Thomas Edison, the creator of incandescent light bulbs. Alexander Graham Bell invented the 1st telephone. Lastly, Nikola Tesla. You many know his name from the Tesla cars however he is most known for his studies of alternating current.


Volts can be defined as the amount of force the electricity is flowing with.


This is the flow of electricity. The number of electrons that pass a given point in a second.


Volts multiplied by Amps equals Watts. It’s the power with which the electricity is flowing.

Conductive materials

An atoms nucleus also known as the core or centre is made up of protons and neutrons. Protons have a positive charge. Neutrons don’t have any charge. Additionally, The outside of the nucleus has electrons which have a negative charge.

Protons in the nucleus help to keep the electrons in the atom by exerting positive forces. Electrons are negative, which means they are attracted to the positive forces of the protons (opposites attract). As a result, electrons are found in the space outside an atom’s nucleus.


Conductors are materials that can transport electricity.  Atoms of conductors have free electrons; free electrons can escape the orbit of their neutron if you add energy. The sharing of electrons is what causes the material to be conductive. Electrons push each other away, repelling one another due to shared negativity. Because free electrons can escape the orbit, they start flowing, helping electric energy to be conducted. Lastly, electricity is conducted on the atomic scale by electrons. Electric energy can be simplified and explained as energy from electrons flowing through wires.


If you look at the atoms of insulators, you will see that the electrons are kept close to the nucleus. Insulators can not conduct electricity. With all the electrons close to the nucleus, there aren’t any electrons that can venture into shells which are far enough from the centre to help insulators conduct electricity. Electrons can be shared by atoms, but not when they are too close to the nucleus.

How is electricity generated?

Fuel is burnt in a furnace, which heats a water filled boiler. An alternative way to create heat is by splitting atoms. This is known as a nuclear power plant. The most common types of fuels used in a power plant are coal, natural gas, and petroleum.

Heat from the burning fuel causes the water to boil. Therefore, the water then turns into steam.

The steam then moves to a turbine, as the steam moves through the turbine it begins to spin.

The turbine is connected to an axle, on the opposite end of the axle is a generator. The generator is built for creating electricity. It converts the kinetic energy to electric energy.

There are various ways to generate electricity. For example, solar, wind powered electricity, and hydroelectric. Hydroelectric and wind power work in a similar way to thermal power plants. The sole difference is that wind or water is used to turn turbines instead of steam. Solar plants get their electricity from the sunlight with the help of photovoltaics.

How does electricity get to my house?

How does electricity work in my house?  Once electricity’s been generated, it travels through wires. To begin, it goes to a step-up transformer. While electricity is moving through wires, it loses energy. To overcome this issue, the flow of electricity is sped up. Higher voltage results in less loss of electric energy while travelling through the wires.

Following this, electricity moves to pylons. These are large metal towers that carry the high voltage electricity to step down transformers. A step-down transformer makes the electricity low voltage again. Thus, making it suitable for household use.


How does electricity work? Is a very complex and loaded question. There are many other factors which are not covered by this article. The purpose of this article was to simplify electricity and give you a basic understanding.