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What Is A Conductor?

How Does Your Electricity Flow?


An image of electrical wire.

Electrical Wire

Timothy Thiele

When you think of the term conductor, you think of anything that conducts electricity through something, often wires. When electricity flows from one point to another through something like an electrical wire, we call this conductivity. The wire would then be called the conductor. Likewise, large conductors that transport power from utility substations to individual homes are called service conductors. And of course don't forget the service entrance wires that feed your electric meter and service disconnect. From there, there are conductors that feed the electrical panel and the individual wires that feed switches and outlets in your home. That's right, there are conductors everywhere!

But what is a conductor? Well to put it simply, it is anything that is capable of allowing current to flow through it. You could be a conductor if you touch a hot wire and become the path to ground, causing you to get shocked.

Have you ever drug your stocking feet across the floor and then touched someone else, only to shock them? That's an example of conducting electricity also.

There are some items that are not very good conductors like plastic, rubber, or wood. These items insulate or isolate flow and are not very good conductors. In fact, these items are often used to seperate items from electrical components to stop conductivity.

Some of the better conductors and most commonly used types are copper and aluminum wires called conductors. Copper by far is the industry standard, although aluminum wire was used in past years with an unfavorable result in homes.

Conductors are used for grounding systems and lightning protection to channel the lighting immediately to a ground potential and away from your home.

The next time you hear the term conductor, make sure the wires in your home are connected properly so that they are the conductors and that you are not.

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