what's phantom electricity?

 Do you always switch off appliances when not in use? Now, do you remove these from their sockets? Did you know that even when you have switched off the appliance, some of the appliances can consume power in standby mode? The phantom electricity or vampire electricity is just that. It is the electricity that some gadgets consume when they are in standby power mode or switched off.

Note that those devices that do not have clocks and dashboards do not consume vampire energy. An example of a device that consumes vampire electricity includes water coolers.

Nowadays the water cooler is always running and will require a large amount of energy. Other examples include vending machines, coffee makers, laptop chargers, microwaves, security cameras, televisions, surround sound systems, gaming consoles, washing machines, dishwashers, photocopiers, cordless landline phones, battery chargers, mobile phones, and so on. These devices consume energy 24/7 when they are plugged into outlets. While we may have to keep some devices left on or on standby such as the fridge, most appliances need not be.           

According to experts, vampire energy consumption can be around 40% of a building's energy use. Some studies have found that more than 100 billion kilowatt-hours get wasted due to phantom electricity every year. Further, it can also produce some 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Residential waste and industrial vampire energy consumption are significant contributors to these emissions. The problem is with always-on devices. So the combined effect of the phantom electricity is much higher. Further, the percentage of phantom power use has burgeoned in recent years, more so because we have more appliances in our homes and industrial spaces. So all the devices combined, the loss of power through phantom load can be a significant amount. This means higher utility bills and more carbon pollution. Identify the devices that are invisibly draining the electricity in your home and cut down on phantom power usage.

Now what can you do if you aren't sure if the appliance consumes standby power? Well, you can prevent this wastage of energy by just unplugging the device!

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How many watts is a lightning strike?

Lightning is a natural electrical discharge created by imbalances between a cumulonimbus cloud and the ground or within itself. Lightning is pure electricity involving small particles with positive and negative charges that pull toward each other like the north and south ends of magnets. Lightnings are scary and of course dangerous, but it is a subject of fascination for scientists. During thunderstorms, scientists  witness a lot of lightning.  On an average, scientists have mapped, there are about 100 lightnings per second worldwide.That's a whopping number. Imagine the amount of energy that's shooting up from the clouds. Each bolt can contain up to one billion volts of electricity. This means a single lightning flash has enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for three months!  So, How many homes could a lightning bolt power? Every lightning bolt on Earth in one year, captured perfectly with no loss of energy, would contain about 4*10^17 joules of energy. Thus, all the lightning in the entire world could only power 8% of US households. Human body can tolerate a maximum of between 20,000 and 50,000 volts, which might prove to be lethal. In most cases, a person's heart will stop after being struck by lightning, so the key to survival is having someone nearby who can administer CPR. Even if you survive, a lightning strike will have long-lasting effects on your body, including memory issues, muscle soreness and changes in mood.

People often confuse lightning with thunder. To put it simply, lightning is electricity; thunder is sound. In other words, lightning is the sudden flash of light spotted in the sky, while thunder is the roaring, cracking sound that is commonly heard during thunderstorms. And because light travels faster than sound, lightning is seen before thunder can be heard.

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Does oil conduct electricity?

A material or a liquid conducts electricity when it contains charged particles that can move within it. Such charged particles can be electrons or atoms and molecules as long as they carry an electrical charge. An atom or a molecule carrying an electrical charge is called an ion. For example, salt crystals dissolve into ions in water, which increases the conductivity of salty sea water. Depending on how much salt and other minerals there are, water can be more or less conductive. This is why one should be careful with electrical devices in the bathroom. Oils, cooking oil or kerosene, are usually bad conductors of electricity because they do not contain many ions. In fact, they are often considered insulators, which is the opposite of conductors. But when salts or metals are added, oils can become conductive to some extent.

The American Petroleum Institute classifies oils into five groups. Group 1 includes oils that have been mildly-refined and possess very low electrical conductivity. Group 2 is comprised of hydrogen-treated oils that also have low conductivity. Group 3 and Group 4 are more highly-refined oils used primarily as industrial lubricants with low conductivity. Group5 oils possess high electrical conductivity and are not suitable for use as base oils because the electrical discharges can damage system components.

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Where nuclear power is used to generate electricity in Europe?

An important world record in the field of nuclear science is held by Britain, where the world’s first atomic power station was built in 1956 at Calder Hall.

Since then, the generation of electric power by atomic or nuclear reactors has become increasingly important in Europe, where over 10 percent of total generating capacity is now nuclear. This is a higher proportion than in any other continent.

The leading European nuclear country in terms of nuclear power stations is France, which generates about a third of its electricity from nuclear fuels. Then come Germany, Britain, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and The Netherlands.

British nuclear power stations use a variety of different kinds of reactors, including an experimental fast breeder reactor at Dounreay. This is a kind of reactor that produces more fuel than it consumes and it could in theory generate immense amounts of power in the future.

However the technological problems involved have proved extremely difficult to solve and it is now doubtful whether the fast breeder will ever fulfil its early promise. Although nuclear power stations have to date worked well and safely throughout Europe, there is a mounting problem of radioactive waste disposal.                                                                                                                                                                                                          


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Are Electricity and Electronics different?

Electricity in a wire creates the pushes and pulls that get work done. It lights lamps and runs machines. But electricity has another important use. It can carry information. Thanks to electricity’s ability to carry information, we have tiny radios, handheld calculators and video games, and personal computers.

The use of electricity to carry electric signals is called electronics. These electric signals may stand for sounds, pictures, numbers, letters, computer instructions, or other sorts of information.

An electronic device has many tiny electrical pathways called circuits. Each circuit has a special job. Some circuits store signals. Others change signals. For example, in an electronic calculator, one circuit might add two numbers together. When the answer is reached, another circuit sends a signal that light up a display screen to show the answer.

The circuits in most of today’s electronic devices are mounted on a chip, a piece of material that is no bigger than a fingernail.

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What is Electromagnet?

Electricity can make light and heat. It can also make a magnet. But this is a magnet you can turn on and off.

A magnet made with electricity is called an electromagnet. An electromagnet has two parts. The first part is a solid centre, or core, made of iron. The second part is an outer covering made of wire that is coiled many times around and around the solid iron core.

When an electric current runs through the wound wire, the iron becomes a magnet. The iron gets its pull, or magnetism, from the moving electrons in the wire. As soon as the electric current is turned off, an electromagnet loses its magnetism.

Electromagnets are used to make electric motors run. A motor has two sets of these magnets - an outer set that stays in place and an inner set that moves. The inner set of electromagnets is attached to an axle - a rod that can spin. When the motor is turned on, the two sets of electromagnets push and pull against each other. That push makes the inner magnets move and spin the axle. And the spinning axle gives a push that makes the motor run.

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How can we store Electricity?

A torch runs on electricity, but you don’t have to plug it in. It carries its own electric current in a “package” - a battery.

A battery is made of layers of chemicals inside a metal container. When the torch is turned on, some of the chemicals in the battery break apart and eat away at the metal container. As this happens, some of the metal atoms leave the container and combine with the chemicals inside the battery.

As the metal atoms move away from the container, they leave some of their electrons behind. So the container gains electrons. And as the chemicals inside the battery break apart, they lose electrons.

Soon, there are more electrons in the container than there are inside the battery. Then the extra electrons in the container begin to move out of the battery. They travel through the bulb and back into the middle of the battery, where electrons are scarce. The push of these electrons is the current that makes your torch shine.

It may sound as if everything happens very slowly, but, as you know, it all takes place in an instant.

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What is the function of Switch in a circuit?

You want your electric clock to run day and night. But you wouldn’t want your doorbell ringing all the time. Things like doorbells, lamps, and radios work only when you turn them on.

Most things that run by electricity have a switch. A switch is used to turn the electric current on and off. The electric current moves along the wire and across the switch to another wire inside the bell, lamp, or radio. The switch is a “bridge” in the path the electricity follows.

A metal piece inside the switch moves when you turn the switch on and off. When you turn the switch on, the metal piece touches both wires. The “bridge” is down. The electricity coming into the switch can cross the “bridge” and keep travelling along the pathway.

When you turn the switch off, the metal piece moves away from the wire. The “bridge” is up. Without the “bridge,” the electric current can’t cross the switch and follow the path. So, the electric current stops moving, and things stop working until you lower the “bridge” in the pathway by turning the switch on again.

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What is Charge?

An electric current is a push in a wire - the push of moving electrons. But what makes the electrons start to push through the wire? Where does the current come from?

The electric current is made in a kind of “electricity factory” called a power plant or power station. The special machine that makes electricity is called a generator.

A generator uses a huge, spinning magnet to make electrons move. The pull of the spinning magnet is strong enough to start electrons pushing in a wire.

The magnet is surrounded by a large coil of tightly wound wire. When the magnet begins to spin, its pull starts millions of electrons pushing! This push makes a strong electric current in the coiled wire. The current is sent through other wires from the power plant to your home.

A generator makes electrical energy. But a generator uses energy, too. Running water, burning fuel, or nuclear energy runs the engines or other machines that make the huge magnets spin. So a generator actually is an energy-changing machine. It changes other kinds of energy into electrical energy - energy you can use.

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What makes the heater or kettle hot?

When you use electricity to iron your clothes or toast your bread, two things happen. Electricity makes a strong push in a wire, and the wire pushes back!

Electricity makes the iron and the toaster heat up. The electricity travels into and out of these machines on wire pathways. Most of the pathways conduct electricity easily, so the electrons are free to move.

But inside the iron and the toaster, part of the pathway is made of a different kind of wire. This wire is made from a kind of metal in which the electrons don’t move very easily. Often the wire is very thin, and sometimes it is wound into a long, tight coil. Instead of conducting electricity easily, this part of the pathway resists the current. The electrons have to push hard to move through this wire.

The pushing electrons make the molecules in the wire speed up and bump into one another. The harder they bump and push, the hotter the wire gets. In a few minutes, the bumping and pushing make the wire hot. And the heat presses clothes or toasts bread.

In irons and toasters, resistance is a good thing. But in many machines, resistance is a waste of electricity. So scientists are always working to create materials that can conduct electricity without resistance. These materials are called superconductors. Someday, people may travel on high-speed trains that float on superconducting magnets. Test models of these trains have already reached speeds of more than 400 kilometres per hour.

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How does electricity help the bulb to glow?

When you turn on a lamp, electricity makes the bulb light up. How?

The electricity flows through a wire into the bulb. It travels around a wire inside the bulb. Then it leaves the bulb. Part of the electricity’s path through the bulb is a filament, a very thin thread of coiled wire. The filament is so thin that electrons have to push hard to get through.

The push of the electrons makes the molecules in the filament move faster. As the molecules speed up, they get so hot that their electrons give off energy. Then the filament glows.

The filament in the light bulb is made of metal called tungsten. A tungsten wire can get very hot without burning or melting. But as tungsten is heated, its molecules very slowly change to a gas and leave the wire. So, as the light bulb glows, the filament gets thinner and thinner.

After many hours of use, the filament breaks. The bulb is “burned out”. The electricity can’t get across the break in the filament. Then you put in a new bulb. Now the electric current has a path to follow. The lamp lights up again.

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What is electric current?

Click! When you turn on a lamp, a light bulb glows. When you turn on a radio, sounds come out. But electricity doesn’t just jump into the lamp or the radio. It flows through wires.

The lamp and the radio run on an electric current. An electric current travels along a pathway made of wires.

The centre of the wire is made of metal, such as copper. Metals have electrons that are free to move. So the electrons can move along the metal. The outside of the wire is made of rubber or plastic. The electrons in rubber or plastic are held tightly to their atoms. They can’t move from one atom to another.

When the electric current is turned on, the metal part of the wire conducts, or carries, the electricity. The electrons push along the wire from atom to atom, conducting electrical energy. But the plastic or rubber covering doesn’t conduct electricity. It insulates, or seals off, the wire. It keeps the electrons moving along the wire to your lamp or radio and back again.

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What is Static Electricity?

Have you ever felt sparks fly when you pulled your jacket off? Or did you ever get a crackling shock when you touched a doorknob? These things happen because your body has been collecting electricity.

The sparks and crackles are called static electricity - electrons that pile up in one place. On cool, dry days, you scrape electrons loose from things. When you walk across a rug, or when your jacket rubs against you, the loose electrons stick to your body.

The loose electrons cannot flow through you. But they can jump from you to a material that has fewer electrons. So when you touch a doorknob or pull off your jacket, that’s exactly what happens. Then you hear the crackle of jumping electrons - and sometimes you feel it, too!

See the pull that electrons make by creating your own sticky balloon. Blow up a balloon and tie a piece of string to it. Rub the balloon with a wool cloth. Then touch the balloon to the cloth and let go of the string. When you rub the balloon with the cloth, it picks up electrons from the cloth. The balloon then has more electrons than the cloth. When you put the balloon next to the cloth, the piled-up electrons on the balloon begin to move back to the cloth. They pull so hard that the balloon sticks to the cloth. That’s static electricity!

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How can we explain Electricity to kids?

When you turn on a light, ring a doorbell, or plug in a toaster, you start a parade. But it’s a parade you can’t see! It’s a parade of moving bits of energy that are called electrons. Inside every electric wire, there are many millions of electrons. When you press a button or turn a switch, they move through the wire. They make a strong push that gets work done. The energy of the moving electrons is called electricity. It makes the light, the doorbell, and the toaster work.

Electricity is the flow of tiny particles called electrons and protons. It can also mean the energy you get when electrons flow from place to place. Electricity can be seen in nature in a bolt of lightning. Lightning is nothing but a large number of electrons flowing through air all at once, releasing a huge amount of energy. Scientists have also learned how to generate, or create, electricity. This is useful because electricity that is generated can be controlled and sent through wires. It can then power such things as heaters, light bulbs, and computers. Today, electricity provides most of the energy to run the modern world.

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What should I know about Electricity?



One of the most useful forms of energy in today’s world is electricity. It is transportable, which means it can be carried long distances by wires and cables. It is convertible, being changed into many other forms of energy, such as light from an electric light-bulb, and movement in an electric motor. It is also controllable. We can turn it on and off with a switch, or up and down with a knob. When a city suffers a power cut and falls still and silent, we realize how much we depend on electricity.

Electricity is the movement of electrons, the negative particles around the nucleus of an atom. Most metals, especially silver and copper, have electrons that can move easily from atom to atom, so they are good carriers or conductors of electricity. Electrons are pushed along the conductor by a battery or generator. But they flow only if they have a complete pathway of conductors called a circuit. Flowing electricity is known as electric current.

In substances such as rocks, wood, plastics, rubber and glass the electrons do not move easily. These materials prevent the flow of electricity and are known as insulators, but they may gain or lose electrons on their surface as a static electric charge.

            Static electricity is produced when electrons are separated from their atoms. On a comb it attracts bits of paper. In the sky it causes lightning!

            Electric current flows along a wire as electrons which detach from the outermost parts of their own atoms and jump or hop along to the next available atoms.

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