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Electricity is a general term applied to phenomena involving a fundamental property of

matter called an electric charge. This article will introduce and explain some of the basic
principles of electricity. In casual usage, the term electricity is applied to several related
concepts that are better identified by more precise terms. Some of these concepts are the
subjects of other articles:

Electric charge: the basic concept involved in electricity, introduced in this article,
but discussed more extensively in a separate article.
Electric current: a movement or flow of electrically charged particle, introduced
in this article, but discussed more extensively in a separate article.
Electrical energy: a form of energy related to the position of an electric charge in
an electric field.
Electric power: electrical energy as it is delivered to individual, commercial and
industrial customers for use in operating equipment, and providing heat and
Electric potential or voltage: a measure of the force available to cause electric
current to flow.
Bioelectricity: electrical phenomena within living organisms.
Piezoelectricity: the ability of certain crystals to generate a voltage in response to
applied mechanical stress.
Triboelectricity: electric charge taken on by contact or friction between two
different materials.

Lightning strikes during a night-time thunderstorm.


1 Electric charge
2 History
o 2.1 Ancient
o 2.2 Modern
3 Electric current
4 SI electricity units
5 See also
o 5.1 Safety of Hazardous energy/ Electricity
o 5.2 Electrical phenomena in nature

6 External links

Electric charge
Electric charge is a property of certain subatomic particles (e.g., electrons and protons)
which interacts with electromagnetic fields and causes attractive and repulsive forces
between them. Electric charge gives rise to one of the four fundamental forces of nature,
and is a conserved property of matter that can be quantified. In this sense, the phrase
"quantity of electricity" is used interchangeably with the phrases "charge of electricity"
and "quantity of charge." There are two types of charge: we call one kind of charge
positive and the other negative. Through experimentation, we find that like-charged
objects repel and opposite-charged objects attract one another. The magnitude of the force
of attraction or repulsion is given by Coulomb's law. Some electrical effects are discussed
under electrical phenomenon and electromagnetism.
The SI unit of charge is the coulomb, which has the abbreviation "C". The symbol Q is
used in equations to represent the quantity of electricity or charge. For example, "Q = 0.5
C" means "the quantity of electric charge is 0.5 coulomb."


According to Thales of Miletus, writing circa 600 BCE, a form of electricity was known
to the Ancient Greeks, who found that rubbing fur on various substances, such as amber,
would cause a particular attraction between the two. The Greeks noted that the amber
buttons could attract light objects such as hair, and that if they rubbed the amber for long
enough, they could even get a spark to jump. This is the origin of the word "electricity",
from the Greek lektron = "amber", which came from an old root lek- = "shine".

An object found in Iraq in 1938, dated to about 250 BCE and called the Baghdad Battery,
resembles a galvanic cell and is believed by some to have been used for electroplating.
The conjecture that this or other ancient artifacts had an electrical function remains
unproven, and such proposed ancient knowledge bears no known continuous relationship
to the development of modern electrical technology.

In 1600 the English scientist William Gilbert returned to the subject in De Magnete, and
coined the modern Latin word electricus from (elektron), the Greek word for
"amber", which soon gave rise to the English words electric and electricity. He was
followed in 1660 by Otto von Guericke, who is regarded as having invented an early
electrostatic generator. Other European pioneers were Robert Boyle, who in 1675 stated
that electric attraction and repulsion can act across a vacuum; Stephen Gray, who in 1729
classified materials as conductors and insulators; and C. F. Du Fay, who first identified
the two types of electricity that would later be called positive and negative. The Leyden
jar, a type of capacitor for electrical energy in large quantities, was invented at Leiden
University by Pieter van Musschenbroek in 1745. William Watson, experimenting with
the Leyden jar, discovered in 1747 that a discharge of static electricity was equivalent to
an electric current.
In June, 1752, Benjamin Franklin promoted his investigations of electricity and theories
through the famous, though extremely dangerous, experiment of flying a kite during a
thunderstorm. Following these experiments he invented a lightning rod and established
the link between lightning and electricity. If Franklin did fly a kite in a storm, he did not
do it the way it is often described (as it would have been dramatic but fatal). It was either
Franklin (more frequently) or Ebenezer Kinnersley of Philadelphia (less frequently) who
created the convention of positive and negative electricity.
Franklin's observations aided later scientists such as Michael Faraday, Luigi Galvani,
Alessandro Volta, Andr-Marie Ampre, and Georg Simon Ohm whose work provided
the basis for modern electrical technology. The work of Faraday, Volta, Ampere, and Ohm
is honored by society, in that fundamental units of electrical measurement are named after
Volta worked with chemicals and discovered that chemical reactions could be used to
create positively charged anodes and negatively charged cathodes. When a conductor was
attached between these, the difference in the electrical potential (also known as voltage)
drives a current between them through the conductor. The potential difference between
two points is measured in units of volts in recognition of Volta's work.
The late 19th and early 20th century produced such giants of electrical engineering as
Nikola Tesla, inventor of the induction motor and the fundamental alternating current
transmission system; Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph; Antonio Meucci, inventor

of the telephone; Thomas Edison inventor of the phonograph and a practical incandescent
light bulb; George Westinghouse, inventor of the electric locomotive; Charles Steinmetz,
theoretician of alternating current.
Nikola Tesla performed experiments with very high voltages that are the stuff of legend,
involving ball lightning and other effects (some have been duplicated or explained; and
others which have not). Nikola Tesla, inventor of the induction motor and developer of
polyphase systems, contributed to the world of electrodynamics the theory of polyphase
alternating current, which he used to build the first induction motor, invented in 1882. In
May 1885, Westinghouse, then president of the Westinghouse Electric Company in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, bought the rights to Tesla's patents for polyphase alternatingcurrent dynamos. This led to a contest in the so-called court of public opinion as to which
system would be adopted as the standard for power transmission (known as the War of
Currents), Edison's direct-current system or Westinghouse's alternating-current method.
Edison conducted a spirited public relations campaign which included his promotion of
the electric chair as a method of execution. The electric chair ran on Westinghouse's AC;
Edison wanted to prove that AC power was capable of killing, and should therefore be
viewed by the public as inherently dangerous. This fear, uncertainty and doubt campaign
included the electrocution of Topsy the Elephant. AC power was eventually adopted as
the standard.


Electric current
The electric charge which occurs naturally within conductors can be forced to flow, while
the charges within insulators are locked in place and cannot be moved. Devices that use
charge flow principles in materials are called electronic devices. A flow of electric charge
is called an electric current. A direct current (DC) is a unidirectional flow; alternating
current (AC) is a flow whose time average is zero, but whose energy capability (RMS
level) is not zero. With AC the electric current repeatedly changes direction.
See electrical conduction
Ohm's Law is an important relationship describing the behaviour of electric currents:

V is the applied voltage, measured in volts
I is the current, measured in amperes

R is the resistance, measured in ohms

(Therefore it is "Voltage equals Ampere multiplied by Ohms.")
For historical reasons, electric current is said to flow from the most positive part of a
circuit to the most negative part. The electric current thus defined is called conventional
current. It is now known that, depending on the type of conductor, an electric current can
consist of a flow of charged particles in either direction, or even in both directions at
once. The positive-to-negative convention is widely used to simplify this situation. If
another definition is used - for example, "electron current" - it should be explicitly stated.

SI electricity units
SI electromagnetic units

Electric charge, Quantity of
Potential difference
Resistance, Impedance,
Electrical power
Conductance, Admittance,
Magnetic flux
Magnetic flux density
Magnetic induction

ampere (SI base unit) A





J/C = kgm2s3A1


V/A = kgm2s3A2

ohm metre
reciprocal farad
farad per metre


VA = kgm2s3
C/V = kg1m2A2s4


1 = kg1m2s3A2

siemens per metre

ampere per metre
ampere-turns per


Vs = kgm2s2A1
Wb/m2 = kgs2A1





Magnetic susceptibility

henry per metre




Wb/A = Vs/A =

See also

Main: electromagnetic, phenomenon (electric charge), electric power (for energy

transfer using electricity), electric shock, electric chair (execution)
Things: Battery, Lightning, Conductor, Insulator, Leyden jar
Engineering: Green electricity, Electrical wiring


Safety of Hazardous energy/ Electricity

Safety: High-voltage hazards

Safety: Lock and tag procedure in the United States of hazardous energy ,


Electrical phenomena in nature

Bioelectricity Many animals are sensitive to electric fields, some (e.g., sharks)
more than others (e.g., people). Most also generate their own electric fields.
Gymnotiformes, such as the electric eel, deliberately generate strong fields to
detect or stun their prey.
Neurons in the nervous system transmit information by electrical impulses known
as action potentials.
Matter since atoms and molecules are held together by electric forces.
The Earth's magnetic field created by electric currents circulating in the
planet's core.
Sometimes due to solar flares, a phenomenon known as a power surge can be
created, which can be very damaging to sensitive electrical equipment such as
computers. However, such damage can be prevented by using a surge protector.

In this article, we guide you through the installation of a subpanel (or pony panel as it is
sometimes referred to) in a house. In this situation, the original panel was full to the
point of some circuits that were added since construction having to be double-lugged
under existing breakers. My customer had just purchased the house, and he needed to
renovate his basement in order to accommodate a plethora of reptiles, spiders,
amphibians and other creatures. It made for some interesting working conditions!
Note: These are thumbnail pictures. For a larger view, double-click on the picture(s).

Figure 1 - Original Panel

Figure 2 - Panel Cover Removed

The first step should always be planning, as a project such as this is fairly complex. Take
the time to think through the necessary steps to complete the job, ensure that you have the
appropriate tools and materials, and that all appropriate safety requirements are being
followed. Remember -Safety first! If you are at all unsure about tackling a project
like this, leave it to a pro.
Good lighting is critical when working on this type of project, so I would recommend that
you arrange for an external light source, such as a good battery operated light, or a
portable generator outside. Run in an extension cord to a portable work light, or a trouble
light. This will allow you to work in the original panel to make the required changes with
the main breaker off, which will de-energize the bus bars in the panel.
Look at the area you have to work with and decide where you are going to mount the
subpanel. Keep in mind that you dont have to install it right beside the original panel if
space is an issue. If the planned renovations are in the opposite end of the house from the
original panel, you may want the subpanel closer to that area. This would result in using
a longer length of the heavier, more expensive wire to feed the sub, but you would use
less wire in all the branch circuits added in the renovation. In this case, the service board
has plenty of room to the left of the original panel, and the room that the panel is in
doesnt have a finished ceiling, so running new wires to the sub will be easy to do from
anywhere in the basement that the renovation will take place. Now prepare the panel for
mounting by removing all covers
Preparing the Subpanel

Figure 3 - Removing the Subpanel Cover

Mount the panel at a comfortable height for working on,
and for re-setting breakers etc. A good rule of thumb is

about 5 feet from the floor to the center of the panel. Use the top key-hole screw slot in
the back of the panel to hang it, and using a level, hold the panel in place, and use the
remaining mounting holes to secure the panel to the mounting board. (At least 4-#10
wood screws for a panel this size).

Figure 4 - Mounting the Subpanel

Removing Circuits
Ive chosen to remove a 3-wire (two 15A breakers) that feed some kitchen counter split
receptacles, and two 2-wire branch circuits (as these were double-lugged already) to
make room for the 2 pole 40A breaker to feed the new sub.

Figure 5 & 6 - Removing Circuits

Cutting in the Cables
Next, cut in the cables that were removed from the existing panel into the new tub, and
the new subfeed cable interconnect between the two panels. I am using #8AWG 3conductor NMD-90 wire for the interconnect (Range cable). Make sure you use
approved cable connectors where you bring cables in through the knock-outs in the
panels. Notice that I installed the subpanel with the main breaker compartment at the
bottom. This was to accommodate the existing, and the future branch circuits that will
enter the subpanel in the top and the sides of the panel.

Figure 7 - Branch Circuits into New


Figure 8 - Installing Subfeed into


I chose these circuits, as the wires were long enough to cut in to the new subpanel
without spicing. This particular panel is a Westinghouse Nova-Line panel, and
Westinghouse has since been bought out by Cutler-Hammer. The breakers used in this
panel are called quads, and tandems or DNPL style. They are a push-in breaker, as
opposed to a bolt-in style. These panels will also accommodate a BR style breaker,
but they take up one whole breaker space alone, as they are twice as wide. One thing to
check is that some of the older Westinghouse breakers will not fit in the new CutlerHammer panels, as the mounting tabs are slightly different. A new Cutler-Hammer
breaker will fit in the Westinghouse panel, but in the case here, the breakers I removed
from the original will not fit in the new tub. I will use a 15-40-40-15 DNPL breaker to
feed the subpanel. The two 40A breakers in the middle (split across both hot busses of
the panel) will feed the new sub, and the two 15A circuits on the outside will be used to
feed the existing circuits that will now have their own breakers, instead of being doublelugged (which is against any and all rules that Im aware of!).

Figure 10 - Making Room for Subpanel

Figure 9 - Subfeed Connected to Subpanel
The panel I chose to use here is a Cutler-Hammer model # CPM-120. This is a panel
with a main breaker, and space for 20 BR style breakers, or 40 circuits in the DNPL style.
This will give us more than enough breaker space for the planned renovation, as this
subpanel is bigger than the original. We also would not require a main breaker in this

subpanel because a disconnect exists right beside it in the original panel. I used this
panel with a main breaker because it is more inexpensive (about 30% less) than one with
main lugs. (They tell me that because they manufacture more panels with a main breaker,
the cost goes down, due to volume). That aside, it makes no difference whether you feed
the buss bars in the subpanel via main lugs, or through a main breaker; the results are the
same. The 100Amps main is providing over-current protection for the buss bars, and not
any of the branch circuits, and the subpanel current is limited to 40Amps by the subpanel
feed breaker in the main panel.
Making Your Connections
At this point, you could make your connections to the subfeed breaker in the main panel,
and re-install the panel cover. Leave the subfeed breaker off, but now you could turn the
main breaker in the original panel back on, and restore power to the house and get the
lights, heat, etc. back working again.

Figure 11 - Installing Subfeed into Subpanel

When installing cables into a panel, connect the bare
ground wires first, then the neutral (white) wires to the
neutral buss, and finally, install the breakers and connect
the hot wires (red or black) to the breaker lugs. Always take the time to make the wires
look neat and orderly, as it not only looks good, but saves time tracing wires, if necessary,
in the future. The same goes for the connections to the main lugs (or in this case the main
breaker) in the subpanel. Make sure that you bring the subfeed cable into the main
breaker compartment of the subpanel.

Figure 12 - Subfeed Connected to Breaker

Neutral Bonding Jumper

This would be a good time to talk about the neutral bonding jumper. In most panels you
will find that the neutral buss bar (the common bar that is mostly isolated from the panel
case), has either a long brass machine screw, or a metal strap of some kind that connects

the neutral bar to the panel case, or ground. In a subpanel, the neutral must be totally
isolated from ground, so you must remove this screw or strap. The neutral and the
ground can only be bonded in one location in a residential service, and that is in the main

Figure 13 - Bonding Jumper Removed

Figure 14 - Bonding Jumper

The sub-feed cable then connects like this: bare ground wire to a case ground lug, the
white neutral wire to an appropriately sized lug on the now isolated neutral bar, and the
red and black hot wires to the lugs of the main breaker in the subpanel. As is the case in
the main panel, you are reverse feeding the main breaker, which then feeds power
through to the panels hot buss bars that the branch circuit breakers connect to. (Clear as
mud, or did I lose you now?)
Final Connections
Now connect the branch circuit wires in the same order: Bare grounds to the panel case,
white neutrals to the neutral bus bar, then install your branch circuit breakers and connect
the hot wires to the breaker lugs. Once all the connections are made, you can install the
main compartment barrier, and then remove the appropriate knockouts in the panel cover,
and install it.
Turn on the sub-feed breaker in the main panel, followed by the subpanel main, and then
the branch circuit breakers. If no sparks fly, and the circuits that you moved to the
subpanel now work, youve done a great job, and you now have the room you need to
accommodate the additional circuits that will be added during the upcoming renovation

Figure 17- The finished product

Labelling the Panel

The final step is to label the panel in order to identify which breaker feeds what; a step
that is all too often over-looked, but any good inspector will catch you on this one, and
make you label the circuits before giving his/her final acceptance.

Figure 18 - Labelling the Panel

Now my job here is done, and I can get out of here before
my customer's Burmese Python starts Wrappin himself
around me! If you have any questions about this project,
check out the services available through our Help Centre.

Figure 18 - Dean Harper of "Wrappin About