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Heat Produced from Electricity

Updated on January 26, 2010


Some heat is always produced when an electric current flows through a wire that is not a perfect conductor. This is because some energy is lost or used up—in the form of heat—in causing the electric current to flow. Good conductors produce less heat—although always some—because it is easy to cause current to flow through them. Poor conductors—as, for example, nichrome, an alloy of nickel and chromium used to make heating elements—produce a great deal of heat when cur­rent flows through them. Copper, for example, is about 60 times as good a conductor as nichrome. Thus, we use copper when we want to deliver electricity with a minimum of loss; and nichrome, when we want to pro­duce heat efficiently.

Everyday household appliances, such as irons, stoves, toasters, dryers, electric blankets, etc., and heaters for houses, offices, and fac­tories—baseboard heaters, ceiling heaters, portable heaters, floor or slab heaters, immersion heaters, etc—all use the heating effects of electricity


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