Electrical Fundamentals

Understanding the behavior of electricity can be more difficult than understanding other concepts such as four-stroke engine theory or the operation of disc brakes. For all intents and purposes, electricity cannot be seen, so you will have to use your imagination and visualize what it is doing. At the same time, electricity is governed by the laws of physics, so learning how electricity behaves can be approached in a logical manner, as with any other science. By applying yourself, over time it will make more and more sense.

In this chapter, we will explore the various types of circuits and how electricity behaves within each type. We will also explore electrical components and see how they either use electricity to perform various types of work or control electricity so that it can be applied to various devices in an appropriate manner.

To get started, it is helpful to know that electricity is made up of tangible objects. Even if we cannot normally see these objects with our eyes, we can imagine them in our minds. In fact, it may be helpful to think of electricity as nothing more than the movement of specific particles from one point to another. Imagine a line of marbles rolling through a tube or drops of water through a pipe. The moving marbles or drops of water can perform work if they are directed against another object with force. In the same way, electricity can perform work if it is directed at objects that can extract energy from the moving particles, such as lights and electric motors. That is where some of electricity’s magic comes in. The moving electrical particles carry a negative charge and are attracted to a positive charge or are repelled by a negative charge. These attractive and repelling forces are what cause the particles to move and perform work. As we continue, just remember that electricity is the movement of particles from one place to another. The fascinating way it does this will be explained next.