Electricity aka Electrical Power

Electricity is one of the finest inventions in our lives. Everything and anything that we see runs on one or the other form of electricity.


In our day-to-day life, we often come across the term “Electricity” for example Electricity Bill, Electricity failure, etc.

Electricity is a very general term that we use when referring to electrical power generated, transmitted, and distributed to our household.

Electricity is one of the finest inventions in our lives. Everything and anything that we see run on one or the other form of electricity. Electricity is a concept that many are unfamiliar with. Electricity for such people is to switch the button on, the appliance starts to work, switch the button off and that is it. The importance is understood only when the electricity goes off.

Electricity is an important part of our life and thus electricity word has also become inseparable from our modern living. Everything seems to be worked by electricity. We often use the words electricity and power; some people use them as synonyms or sometimes they define both things as two different things.

The Greeks first discovered electricity about 3000 years ago. The word electricity is derived from the Greek word “Elektron”, which means amber. Amber is the yellow, fossilized rock you find in tree sap. The Greeks found that if they rubbed amber against wool, lightweight objects (such as straw or feathers) would stick to it.

What is an Electricity?

Electricity is briefly defined as the flow of electric charge.
The term “Electricity” has many meanings, and Most people refer to electricity in a completely different way, they use the word “electricity” to describe electrical energy.

The terms Electricity, Electrical power, and energy can be confusing because many a time we use electricity in place of electrical power or energy.

The word “electricity” is sometimes used to mean “electrical energy” They are not the same thing, electricity is a transmission medium for electrical energy like seawater is a transmission medium for wave energy.

Just imagine you are watching the football world cup finals. The match is in the final minutes, one of the teams gets a penalty shot, the player kicks the ball, and the TV screen goes blank! We hear everyone say, Oh no! A power cut!

But it is the electricity that has been cut and not the power.

Similarly, you must have heard some people saying- “Tomorrow there is an Electricity shutdown”, and some people saying, “tomorrow there is a Power shutdown”.

They both are referring to interruption in the supply of electricity. Therefore, at times we consider the power to be electric power or electricity, by referring to the context of a sentence.

“Electricity” has become indispensable, and it is up to us to make economical use of its “Power”.

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.”
Electricity is an electric current caused due to the flow of charges from one point to another and it is measured in Amperes.

Electricity is mainly categorized into two types-

  • Static Electricity
  • Current Electricity

When electrical charges are not moving, electricity is called static electricity, and when the charges are moving, electricity is called current electricity,

What is Static Electricity?

Static Electricity is what makes your hair stand up when you rub a balloon against it or sometimes you get a shock when you touch the doorknob.

In static electricity, electrons are moved around mechanically which is by someone rubbing two things together.

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.
When you drag your feet across the carpet, extra charge is scraped off the carpet and collects on your body.
When you touch a doorknob, all the charge wants to leave you and go to the doorknob. You see a spark and get a shock as the electrons leave you.

Lightning is an example of static electricity. It is just like a big spark.
Benjamin Franklin found out that lightning can be dangerous. Lightning has more than 20 Million Volts!

What is Current Electricity?

Current Electricity is defined as an electrical charge in motion. It consists of a flow of negatively charged electrons from atom to atom through a conductor in an electrical circuit.

What makes an electric charge move?

We know that work must be done to lift an object because the Earth’s gravitational field is pulling the object down.

In a similar way work must be done to move a charged particle in an electric field.

The amount of work required to move a charge between two points or the work per unit of charge is called the ‘electric potential difference‘ between the two points.

The unit of potential difference is called the volt. Potential difference can be either positive or negative depending on the movement of the charge.

To move charges, we need a device that can do work. Such devices are batteries, generators, thermocouples, etc.

Electrons do not move along wire-like cars on a highway. The conductor (a thing that electricity can go through) is made of atoms. Each atom has electrons in it. If you put new electrons in a conductor, they will join atoms, and each atom will deliver an electron to the next atom. This next atom takes in the electron and sends out another one on the other side.

Current electricity is a constant flow of electrons.

The electrons moving through a circuit are called a current, denoted by the alphabet “I” which originates from the French phrase intensité du courant, (current intensity) and the unit of measurement is “Ampere”.

You can get an electric shock when a big current that is lots of electrons flows through your body.

In Current Electricity, electricity must flow in a closed loop called a circuit. If the loop is broken anywhere, the electricity cannot get through.

This is like blood in the body. Blood gets pumped through your arteries by the heart and eventually comes back to the heart through your veins.

In an electrical circuit, electric charges are the blood, and the wires are the arteries and veins.

Electric charges have a certain amount of energy. The measure of this energy is called voltage (Volts).

A flashlight battery has about 1.5 Volts and the wall socket has about 220 Volts.

There are two types of current electricity:

  • Direct Current (DC)
  • Alternating Current (AC)

In 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 Electric power supply companies distribute for Domestic, Industrial, and Business use. 


In this blog post, I have walked you through the basics of Electrical Power, and Types of Electricity.

Now that you have understood what electricity is. Electricity is no more a concept for you to switch the button on and the appliance starts to work, switch the button off and it stops.
You have also understood that one cannot see electricity with human eyes and hence it is mysterious, complex, and dangerous. Electricity can hurt you if you touch it.
In this post, I have tried to compile all freely available information on various internet sites, so ultimately you do not need to spend your time searching for it.

Suhas Ghatnekar
Suhas Ghatnekar

The author is an Electrical engineer from the National Institute of Technology Rourkela India, an enterprising techno-commercial professional in the
field of diesel engines and diesel generators.

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