What Does Electric Current Mean?
What does electric current mean? Current refers to the amount of electricity in the form of electrons or ions flowing per second. This is measured in amperes or milliamperes. In electric circuits, this charge is carried by electrons moving through a wire.
Most electric charge is carried by positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons within an atom. The electrons move freely from one atom to another – reaching a sufficient electromotive force that creates this charge.
Electric currents produce incandescent light in bulbs and generate magnetic fields – used in generators, inductors, and motors. Find out more about what is meant by electric current here…
Alternating and Direct Current
The majority of electricity used comes in the form of alternating current or AC. It’s produced by electric generators where a changing magnetic field induces an electric current in a conductor.
As coils rotate within the generator current is produced that changes direction every half turn. This forward and reverse cycle occurs 60 times per second. The generator sends the current through a series of transformers by a single wire without losing energy or overheating.
As the current reaches the end of the line it provides light and heat through electrical resistance. Or mechanical motion through electrical induction.
Direct current or DC moves in one direction only. And is produced by sources including batteries, and solar cells where photonic energy from sunlight is absorbed by electrons and converted into electrical energy. Fuel cells produce electrical energy by combining oxygen and hydrogen into water.
Other sources of direct current include thermocouples and dynamos.
Electric Current and Injuries
An electric current in the human body is also known as an electric shock. Any tissue damage caused by the electrical current is defined as primary electrical injury. And falls due to an electric shock are referred to as secondary injuries.
Most current-related injuries result from the heating of the tissues and the stimulation of the muscles and nerves. Relatively small amounts of current are needed to cause physiological effects.
Skin can protect the body from electricity unless there’s skin damage such as cuts and abrasions. Or of the skin is immersed in water. If you’re holding a power tool that suddenly touches a power source this type of contact will give a much greater current through the body.
Cell membrane damage occurs when an electric current passes through a length of tissue. Brief contact can result in severe muscle and other tissue injuries. If there’s enough current this can result in rapidly stimulated skeletal muscle cells – causing muscle contractions and loss of muscle control.
The heart is most sensitive to this type of stimulation and ventricular fibrillation may occur. If the current path goes through the chest contractions can result in respiratory arrest.
Serious burns can be caused by high-voltage arcs when electricity passes through the air. These arcs can also produce explosion-related shock waves that can rupture eardrums and cause significant injuries to internal organs. Lightning is an example of a pulse of electricity that can cause injury due to current flow within the body.
Electrocution is death caused by an electric shock.
An electric current tester is known as an ammeter – measuring the current in units of amperes. It must be connected in series with the path of the current being measured without breaking the circuit, by detecting the magnetic field associated with the devices.
There are many types of ammeter including moving coils, electrodynamic, hot wire, digital, and integrating.
Current clamps are typically used to measure alternating current in electrical engineering – the device has jaws that clamp around the electrical conductor without disconnection.
An electric current meter will determine whether the device you’re using is working properly and safely. If you have any issues you should get in touch with your emergency electrician who will respond to your request within the hour.
With 24-hour availability, you’ll be able to get solutions to any electrical problems that just won’t wait. An electrical specialist will make your current system safe, and carry out re-wiring and repairs as necessary.
Every electrician is registered and covered by complete insurance when working on your property. Now you understand how electric currents work and the serious effects faulty wiring can cause – getting your system checked out is the best and safest option.