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What are the Effects of Electric Current ?

The nature of electricity is amazing. Electricity is among the top 10 needs of everyone, as people are more into electric lifestyles these days. There are 3 main effects of electricity as they are:

  • Heating effect
  • Magnetic effect (magnetism)
  • Chemical effect

Electric Current Heating Effect

As the name of this electrical effect implies, the generation of heat due to electrical current is known as the heating effect of electricity. Don’t you want to believe it? Well, it’s time for a simple experiment.

Take a coil of thin nicrome wire 2 cm long and connect it to a battery and a key as in the picture. Press the key for about 30 seconds. Now touch the coil of nicromium wire. What will you feel? Will it be warm or cool? Obviously it will be hot. It is clear that the wire gets hot because of the flow of electric current through the wire.

When electrons pass through a wire, they can give some of their energy to the atoms in the wire and make them vibrate faster than their original vibration, so the wire gets hot. We can define this phenomenon as the heating effect of the electric current. Here are some home appliances that use the heating effect of the current:

  • Electric kettle
  • Electric stove
  • Electric oven
  • Toaster
  • Water Heater
  • Clothes ironing
  • Bulbs

Electricity and Magnetism (Magnetic Effect)

The next effect of the electric current is magnetism. In 1819, Hans Christian Oersted discovered that electricity has a magnetic effect. This experiment will help you understand the magnetic effect of electric current. What is needed:

  • Compass
  • Battery and switch
  • Cable

How to Do an Oersted Experiment with the Compass

  • It creates a circuit with a battery and a switch. You also need a compass for this experiment. Hold the wire over the compass needle. Now close the circuit with the switch for a few seconds. When the current flows through the circuit, watch what happens to the compass needle.
  • Okay, let’s reverse the direction of the electrical current and then notice what happens to the compass needle again
  • In the first case, you will see that the compass needle is deflected in a specific direction. Then, in the second case, the reverse direction of the current also deflects the compass needle, but in the opposite direction to the first case.
  • The deflection of the compass needle changes due to the formation of a magnetic field. Therefore, it is clear that magnetism occurs around a conductor when an electric current flows through it.
  • Similar to the way people use the heating effect of the current, the magnetic effect of the current is used mainly in household appliances. That doesn’t mean it isn’t used in the industrial field appliance.

Electromagnets are used in the following situations:

  • Electric hoods
  • Circuit breakers
  • Electromagnetic locks
  • Electromagnetic relays
  • Telephone Handset
  • Cranes in steel mills and scrapyards

Chemical Effect

Chemical reactions occur when electricity passes through various conductive liquids. This is known as the chemical effects of electricity. Yes, it was specifically said «conducting liquids» because not all liquids conduct electricity. Let me show you if this is true by using the following experiment. It is needed:

  • Glass with 2 electrodes
  • Battery and switch
  • Bulb
  • Crocodile Tweezers
  • Distilled water, NaCl solution, vinegar, kerosene and HCL

Connect the circuit to two electrodes in the beaker. Pour one of the liquids into the beaker. Switch on and see if the bulb is lit. Now remove the liquid and wash the device properly. Try the same with distilled water, NaCl solution, vinegar, kerosene and HCl.

You will experience that the bulb lights up when the solution inside the beaker is a solution of NaCl, vinegar or HCl. The bulb does not glow when the liquid from these, the distilled water and the kerosene. It is clear that the bulb will glow when the liquids conduct electricity, and the bulb will not glow when they do not conduct electricity.

Effects of Electric Current on the Human Body

When an electric current passes through the body, the nervous system experiences an electric shock. The intensity of the shock depends primarily on the strength of the current and the path the current takes through the body and the duration of the contact. In extreme cases, shock causes the failure of the normal action of the heart and lungs, resulting in loss of consciousness or death.

Current below 5 mA is believed to be non-hazardous. Current between 10 and 20 mA is dangerous because the victim loses muscle control. The resistance of the human body taken between two hands or between the legs ranges from 500 mA to 50 kΩ. If the resistance of the human body has been assumed to be 20kΩ, then a contact with a 230 volt supply can be potentially fatal, 230 / 20,000 = 11.5 mA.

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