5 Myths About Electricity (And the Truth)

Have you ever wondered why electricity is as powerful as it is? Do you know any myths about batteries or outlet plugs that scare you? Odds are, if you know a thing or two about electricity, you have likely heard a few false stories.

A list of myths and their subsequent truths can help sort out your knowledge about this powerful source of energy.

For centuries, people have been learning more and more about electricity, and how it can be safely harnessed and generated into a form of power we have come to rely on so heavily for electrical services. Read on to see the biggest myths about electricity - the truths may shock you!

1. Electricity Has Zero Weight

As a form of energy, electricity is assumed not to weigh anything. However, electricity does have mass. It’s not just a bunch of supercharged light traveling from one point to another. It actually has form, shape, and substance.

The truth is that electric currents themselves do not have mass or weight. However, electricity itself is composed of charged particles, which do have mass and weight. Although they are microscopic, electrons do carry their own weight and, when clustered together, can be seen to have visible math.

2. Rubber and Wood are Good Insulators

You might see an amateur electrician take off their jewelry and putting on rubber gloves before starting an electrical project. Why exactly do they do these things? Can rubber and wood really protect you against electrical damage?

The truth is that rubber and wood are not sufficient enough to prevent electrical damage or shocks to your system. They are a step in the right direction, but they are still a small conductor of electricity. Only pure rubber works to completely insulate you against electricity. Most rubber gloves and shoes are not pure rubber, so they will not completely protect you against shock. All of these truths are the same for wood.

3. Electrical Power Lines Have Insulation

A lot of people feel relatively safe around above-ground power lines because they assume they are well insulated enough to protect the public from harm. Plus, you see birds landing on them all the time. This must mean that they are well-protected, right?

This is actually wrong.

The truth is that power lines are not insulated or save to the touch. The reason birds don’t get electrocuted when they land on them is because they aren’t touching the ground at the same time; therefore, there is no flow of electrons and no imbalance of the type of charges. But if a person were to touch a line while also touching something else, they could get greatly shocked.

4. Electricity Travels at the Speed of Light

When we actually see electricity, we see a huge burst of bright light moving very rapidly around a contained unit, such as the circuit inside of a lightbulb or the currents in a Tesla sphere. Most people think electricity travels at the speed of light.

When you flip on your light switch, the lights turn on instantly. This means light speed, right?

The truth is that electricity is not that fast. It is very fast, but it is not as fast as the speed of light. In most cases, electromagnetic waves travel between 50 and 99% the speed of light. Electrons themselves, though, travel just a few centimeters per second, which is very slow when compared to the speed of light.

5. Generators Actually Create Electricity

When there’s a city-wide power outage, most people are grateful for backup generators that can restore power to apartment complexes, hospitals, and other important areas. Generators are relied upon in cases of emergency or danger, and they are powerful devices that make our society safe and secure.

But...they don’t actually create their own electricity.

The truth is that a generator transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy. It cannot create a new form of energy, but rather it borrows from other sources of energy to convert to electricity. It is like a beating heart; the heart does not create new blood, but it simply pumps the blood throughout the body.