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Electric Learning

Basic Electricity - What is it?

What is electricity?
Electricity is a form of energy that makes heat and light. Electricity may also be referred to as “electrical energy.”

Where does electricity begin?
Electricity begins with the atom. Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Electricity is created when an outside force causes electrons to move from atom to atom. The flow of electrons is called an “electrical current.”

What causes the electrons to move?
Voltage is the “outside force” that causes electrons to move. Voltage is potential energy. Potential energy has the ability to perform work. An example of potential energy is an axe being held above a piece of wood. If the axe is allowed to drop onto a piece of wood, then the wood would split. Notice the word “if” appears. Potential energy does work ONLY if it is allowed to do so. 

What is voltage?

Voltage is the "outside force" that causes the electrons to move. Voltage is potential energy.  Some characteristics of voltage are:

  • Voltage cannot be seen or heard.
  • Voltage is a push or force.
  • Voltage does nothing by itself.
  • Voltage has the potential to do work.
  • Voltage appears between two points.
  • Voltage is always there.
 What are the two kinds of electricity?

Static electricity occurs when there is an imbalance of positively and negatively charged atoms. Electrons then jump from atom to atom, releasing energy. Two examples of static electricity are lightning and rubbing your feet on the carpet and then touching a doorknob.

Current electricity is a constant flow of electrons. There are two kinds of current electricity: direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC). With direct current, electrons move in one direction. Batteries produce direct current. In alternating current, electrons flow in both directions. Power plants produce AC electric current. Alternating current (AC) is the type of electricity that BrightRidge distributes to you for use. 

What are conductors and insulators?

Conductors are anything which electricity easily flows through. Examples of electrical conductors are copper, aluminum, and water.

Insulators are materials that will not allow electricity to easily flow through. Some examples of insulators are rubber, glass, and plastic.

From Plant to Plug

The electricity we use at our homes and places of business is produced or generated in power plants. BrightRidge purchases the power we sell from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  No matter which type of plant the electricity is produced in, it still follows a similar path to your home. Learn how electricity travels from plant to the plug!

Basic Electricity Terms

The first power plant, owned by Thomas Edison, opened in New York City in 1882.  Thomas Edison invented more than 2,000 new products, including much of what we continue to use in our homes today; switches, fuses, sockets and meters. Electricity can be fun and exciting to learn about. Learn about terms specific to the electric industry!