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What Does Electrical Conductivity Mean?

  • Post published:April 19, 2022
  • Reading time:3 mins read
Home > What Does Electrical Conductivity Mean?

What Does Electrical Conductivity Mean?

Put simply, electrical conductivity is the measurement of the amount of electrical current a material can carry. 

Have you heard the phrase electrical conductivity recently and aren’t sure what it means? 

We all use electricity every day but very rarely do we think of how it works. We just expect our lights to turn on at the flick of a switch and to be able to charge our phones with ease. 

Yet behind the walls of your house, there’s an intricate system of wires, or more simply, conductors. These ensure electricity reaches your appliances enabling them to work. 

So keep reading and we’ll break down the basics including:

  • What does electrical conductivity mean?
  • What is a conductor?
  • How does it work? 

What Is an Electrical Conductor?

Technically anything is a conductor but not all materials are good conductors. 

The best electrical conductors are materials with high amounts of free electrons. These are atoms that the electricity can move in order to pass from one side to another. So basically, the greater amount of free electrons present, the easier electricity can be carried through the object. 

Metals tend to contain high amounts of free electrons making them the best conductors. 

So What Is the Best Conductor?

It may come as a surprise but the best conductor is actually silver. Because it contains an enormous number of free electrons, electricity can pass through quickly and with ease. 

But due to the high cost of silver, it’s not typically used in electrics. The most common alternative is copper which is still a great conductor but without the price tag. 

Other strong conductors are: 

  • Gold
  • Aluminium
  • Zinc
  • Nikel
  • Brass

Some of the worst conductors of electricity include:

  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Rubber
  • Glass

How Does Electrical Conductivity Work? 

As we’ve already mentioned, the best conductors are metals/materials with high amounts of free atoms. 

In a typical house, each wire would be made of copper due to its high conductivity and low price tag. 

The copper wires are located behind the walls and ceilings and are connected from the consumer unit to each plug socket, light, cooker, shower etc via circuit breakers. 

Larger copper cables (located outside in the street ) supply the property via an electricity meter that’s eventually connected to the consumer unit. These cables are of various sizes and supply the required designed currents without getting warm. 

So when you switch on a light, electricity is travelling through the copper wires from outside. It then travels through the consumer unit (via the protective fuse rated residual-circuit breakers) and finishes at the light.

Want to Find Out More?

If you would like to learn more about the basics of electricity and how to carry out simple electrical work, then check out our blog for more guidance. 

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss your needs with one of our expert electricians in Milton Keynes, then feel free to contact us. One of our friendly team members can answer all your questions and even come out to visit you if need be.