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Learn Basic Electricity In One Simple Lesson

Updated on February 25, 2011


Electric is DANGEROUS use extreme CAUTION

I first must warn you, electric is very dangerous. Think of it as a shy invisible snake, it only bites you when you are not paying attention.

Furthermore, if electric work is not done properly the results can not only be dangerous to your life, but the safety of others as well. And can cause loss of property due to fire.

The Basics

If you reduce electric down to the very basics is can be thought of in the same sense as plumbing. If you did not know anything at all about plumbing, I am confident you would know you can NOT run hot & cold water down the same pipe, the same is true for electric, you will have separate wire for the hot & the neutral (cold). You also know fire trucks do not use garden hoses to fight a fire, they use larger hoses. The same is for electricity, the more power (current) a device needs the larger the wire. There are charts listing the current carrying capacity of wires in the National Electric Code Book, however, the National Electric Code Handbook is a much easier to understand book, it explains the code “in plain English”

When you want water you would simple turn on the faucet, the same as when you want light you turn on a switch. Now imagine you was filling a pot with water and the phone rings, without delay you answer the phone, leaving the water run. When the pot begins to overflow where the water goes depends on the location of the pot. If the pot is on the sink, then the overflowing water (same as an electric fault) simply goes down the drain (in electric this is the purpose of the, bare, ground wire). If the pot was sitting on the counter (no ground wire) then the water (electric) has the potential to do a lot of damage.

Electric Safety

Now as you think about electric as water, to protect the water (electric) from leaving the hose (wire) at any unwanted point, you must protect the hose (wire) from physical damage. Also when connecting two or more hoses (wires) to prevent the water (electric) from” leaking” out, you must use the proper connector. Some times to be extra cautious, you may use duct (electrical) tape on the connection as additional protection against leakage.


Electrical Terms

Now we have all heard various electrical terms, let’s look at them in relationship to plumbing.

Pressure = Voltage, the further you want to” push” water (electric) the higher pressure (voltage) you would use. Electric companies use extremely high voltage to transmit electric over great distances.

Flow = Current or Amperage, large pipes (wires) are run to your bathtub (electric dryer) than to the ice maker (electric light) in your refrigerator.

Resistance = Ohms, water does NOT flow uphill, there is too much resistance . In electric this is referred to as a resistor. If the flow of electric is completely stopped the item is known as an insulator. To limit the flow (current) of water, you simply do not turn the faucet (resistor) on completely.  Just as friction causes heat, resistance in the flow of electric also causes heat. This is one method electrical fires are caused. A bad or loose electrical connection has resistance, which causes heat, which causes the wires to expand when the electric is flowing, and contract when it is not. This causes the connection to become looser and the problem to get worse. This process continues until the resistance is so great, it causes a lot of heat, resulting in fire.



This is a very basic overview of electric and is intended to help the reader understand the basics of electricity. It is in no way meant as instructions to perform any type of electric work.  All electrical work should be done by a qualified professional and all work must be inspected by the appropriate electrical inspection agency.


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    • profile image

      Anver Tieties 3 years ago

      Thanks for a great Lesson.

    • profile image

      Neil Marchman 4 years ago

      Comparing the flow of electrons with the flow of water is something we can all understand. Thanks for the lesson.


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