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Mears Electric
  • Writer's pictureChenchen Lim

Don’t Get Left in the Dark: An Introduction to Electrical Basics

Updated: Feb 3


electricity


Electricity is essential to numerous aspects of modern society, from powering our homes and transportation to fueling the technology we rely on daily. Yet, despite its ubiquity, the workings of electricity and electrical systems can seem complex and intimidating to those without a background in the field.


One of the most significant scientific discoveries in human history is the discovery of electricity. Our way of life has been completely transformed by the ability to use electricity to transport people and things, light up houses, and connect with loved ones around the globe. Understanding how this crucial transition occurred and continues to evolve depends on having a fundamental understanding of electricity.


This article seeks to provide an introduction to the basics of electricity, including its fundamental laws and principles, various components, and common applications. We will explore how to stay safe while working with electrical systems and examine the different power sources available. By the end of this article, you will have a foundational understanding of electrical basics that will serve as a useful starting point for further exploration of the field.


Understanding Electrical Circuits

electrical circuit


What is an electrical circuit?

The channels that let electrical current move are known as electrical circuits. They serve as the foundation for all electrical systems, to put it simply. Both open-and-closed circuits are possible. An open circuit is a circuit in which the current is either absent or unable to flow because of a blockage in the flow channel, such as an open switch. Electric current can freely flow in a closed circuit.


Circuits can be divided into two categories: parallel and series. All the parts in a series circuit are attached end to end, creating a single path for the electricity to flow. In a parallel circuit, the current travels over several paths, producing various results.


Electrical circuits can be divided into two categories: AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current). While DC circuits are utilized in batteries and for electronic gadgets, AC circuits are employed in the electrical systems of homes and buildings.


Components of an electrical circuit

Conductors, switches, resistors, capacitors, and a power supply are some of the parts that make up an electrical circuit.


Electrical energy is produced by a power source, which can take many different forms, such as a battery, solar cell, or generator. Conductors are substances like metals, wires, and cables that make it simple for electrical current to flow through them. Switches are employed to turn electrical current flow on and off, while resistors are utilized to manage the current flow. The electrical energy is stored by capacitors.


Key Electrical Components

electrical components

Power sources


The foundation of electrical systems is power sources. Power sources come in many varieties, including batteries, generators, and solar panels. Everyday gadgets like torches, remote controls, and cell phones frequently utilize batteries. During a power outage, residences are powered by generators, and solar cells turn sunshine into electricity.


antenna tower


Conductors


Conductors are substances that easily permit the flow of electrical current through them. As conductors, metals like copper, aluminum, and silver are frequently employed. In an electrical circuit, several components are connected using wires and cables.

electrical conductors

Switches

Switches are employed in electrical circuits to regulate the current flow. Push-button, toggle, and rocker switches are just a few examples of the various sorts of switches. Contacts on switches permit or obstruct the flow of electrical current by opening and closing. Depending on how much current they can manage, switches are graded.


electrical switches

Basic Electrical Laws and Principles


basic electrical theory

Source: https://www.electricianinformationresource.com/basic-electrical-theory.html


Ohm's Law

Ohm's law is a fundamental idea that clarifies how voltage, current, and resistance interact in an electrical circuit. It claims that a circuit's current is inversely proportional to resistance and directly proportional to voltage. As a result, increasing the voltage causes the current to increase while increasing the resistance causes the current to drop.


Kirchhoff's Laws

Two key ideas that are crucial to comprehending how electrical circuits function are Kirchhoff's laws. They are known as the voltage law (KVL) and the current law (KCL). According to current law, the total current flowing through any given node in an electrical circuit equals the total current flowing out of that node. According to the voltage law, all of the voltages in a closed loop add up to zero.


Electrical Safety Precautions


electrical safety precautions

Source: https://engineering.electrical-equipment.org/safety/power-outage-safety.html


Electrical hazards


When handled improperly, electricity poses a risk of harm or death. Electric shock, arc flash, fires, and explosions are all examples of electrical risks. In contrast to an arc flash, which is an energy release brought on by an electrical defect, an electric shock happens when the body comes into touch with an electrical current. When malfunctioning electrical equipment overheats and ignites, fires and explosions can happen.


electrical Hazzard sign

Protective equipment and safety measures


Use personal protection equipment (PPE) such as gloves, safety glasses, and insulated tools to safeguard yourself from electrical risks. When working on electrical equipment, it's crucial to follow lockout/tagout procedures to make sure the power is turned off. Electrical safety rules demand the use of ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which are used to prevent electrocution. To maintain the safety of people and property, it's critical to adhere to safety rules and codes for grids generators.


electrical standard precaution


DC power sources
  • Batteries

  • Solar panels

  • Fuel cells


Electrical Safety

electrical safety

Source: https://engmag.in/safety-first-electrical-sector-optimum-benefits/


If not used appropriately, electricity can be harmful and even fatal. When working with electricity, it is crucial to adopt the appropriate safety measures. For electrical safety, consider the following advice:

  • Always turn off the power before working on electrical equipment or wiring

  • Wear protective gear, such as rubber gloves and safety glasses

  • Never touch electrical equipment or wiring with wet hands

  • Make sure all electrical equipment is properly grounded

  • Keep flammable materials away from electrical equipment

Common Electrical Components

electrical components

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_component


There are many common electrical components used in circuits and devices. Here are a few:

  • Resistors

  • Capacitors

  • Diodes

  • Transistors

  • Inductors

Basic Electrical Circuits

electrical circuit

A path for electricity to flow is called an electrical circuit. Electrical circuits can be divided into two categories: parallel and series. The parts of a series circuit are chain-like and connected end to end. The components in a parallel circuit are connected side by side, much like a ladder. Here are a few illustrations of fundamental electrical circuits:

  • Light bulb circuit in series

  • Light bulb circuit in parallel

  • Battery and resistor circuit in series

  • Battery and resistor circuit in parallel


Knowing a little about electrical systems can help us better connect with and appreciate the surrounding environment. Electricity is a crucial element of our daily life. You can learn useful information and keep yourself safe when using electrical equipment by being familiar with the fundamentals and elements of electrical systems. We hope that this article has given you a useful overview of electrical fundamentals and that it encourages you to learn more about this fascinating subject.


FAQ


What are the most common electrical safety hazards?


Electric shock, arc flash, electrical fires, and explosions are some of the most frequent electrical safety risks that can result from using electricity. By adopting the appropriate safety precautions and according to electrical safety laws and regulations, these risks—which pose a severe risk of serious harm or even death—can be avoided.


What is the difference between AC and DC circuits?


The method by which AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current) circuits supply electricity is different. While DC circuits maintain a continuous flow in a single direction, AC circuits frequently switch the direction of electrical flow. While DC is frequently utilized in batteries and electronic gadgets, AC is normally used in most houses and commercial buildings.


What is Ohm's law, and how is it used?


Ohm's law, a foundational electrical principle, explains how voltage, current, and resistance interact in a circuit. According to Ohm's Law, voltage is exactly equal to current times resistance (V = IR). It is crucial to comprehend and evaluate electrical systems so that one understands this principle, which can be used to compute voltage, current, or resistance in a circuit.


What is the best way to stay safe while working with electricity?


The best approach to keeping safe while handling electricity is to exercise due caution and abide by all applicable laws and regulations. This can involve using ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), and adhering to lockout/tagout protocols. In order to avoid risks, it's crucial to make sure that electrical equipment and components are installed, maintained, and frequently examined.


For more tips and content about electrical, visit our website https://www.mearselectric.com/ or contact us for more information +1 507-829-7009.





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