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Physics Electrical Energy in the Home

1.2.1 Initially wood was used as a source of heat energy and domestic animals were
used for mechanical energy. Over time our main sources of energy have changed to
wind and water, coal (19th century steam engine) to coal gas for street lighting. Now,
fuel burning power stations are the main source of energy (nuclear power stations in
some places) and hydro-electric power stations still make use of water energy.
1.2.2 Because it was now possible to provide light as bright as daylight, activities
once confined to daylight hours could now be carried out anytime. Factories started
running 24hrs a day and shops stayed open longer. Sporting events started to take
place at night where more could attend. Electric heaters became a cleaner source of
heating and small electric motors brought refrigerators and washing machines into the
1.2.3 Transmission lines are used to quickly convey electricity to where it is needed
and transformers modified voltage and current for households. Small generators
powered by petrol or oil, solar panels or wind generators could be used in remote
places to provide electricity.
2.2.1 Electrostatic charges: opposite attract, like repel and charged attract neutral
2.2.2 Electric charge is measured in coulombs (C)
2.2.3 E = f/q E = magnitude of electric field (NC-1), q = charge (C), F = force (N)
2.2.4 Current is the rate at which charge flows (C\sec. or Amperes) under the
influence of an electric field.
2.2.5 DC (direct current) charge moves in one direction, AC (alternating current)
charge moves back and forth periodically.
2.2.6 Electric potential difference (Voltage) between two points is the change in
potential energy per unit charge moving from one point to another (joules/coulomb or
2.2.7 Potential difference can vary at different points around a circuit for example
there will be different voltage drops across various resistors, light globes and rheostats
which would be different to the voltage rise across the power pack.
2.2.8 A conductor is a material that contains a large number of charge carriers, or
charged particles which are free to move through the material. E.g. metals, salt
solutions. An insulator is a material that contains no charge carriers. E.g. dry air, glass
or plastic.
2.2.9 Ohms Law states The potential drop across a resistor is proportional to the
current passing through it R = V/I

2.2.10 Resistance is proportional to length; the longer a conductor the greater the
resistance. Resistance is inversely proportional to the area of cross-section; the larger
the cross-section the lower the resistance. The material of a conductor influences
resistance; copper is commonly used for household wiring, gold or silver used when
minimal resistance required. Temperature is proportional to resistance, as temperature
increases ions vibrate increasing resistance.
3.2.1 Series circuits have only one pathway for electricity to flow, whereas parallel
circuits have more than one pathway which electricity can flow through.
3.2.2 In series, current remains constant and voltage varies (VT=V1+V2+V3). In
parallel, voltage remains constant and current varies (IT=I1+I2+I3).
3.2.3 Ammeters measure current in a circuit, voltmeters measure potential difference.
3.2.4 Ammeters measure current in the position they are placed, therefore they need to
be connected in series. However, voltmeters measure potential difference across two
points therefore, they are required to be connected in parallel.
3.2.5 In a house there are separate circuits for lighting, heating and other appliances
so that appliances that require large amounts of current can still function without overloading the circuit. If everything was on one circuit there would be too much current
used and the wires would become hot and potentially cause a fire.
4.2.1 Power is the rate at which energy is transformed from one form to another. If
energy is transformed in t time then: P = energy/t
4.2.2 Power is the number of joules per second dissipated, for every I coulomb, V
joules are dissipated. Therefore: P = VI
4.2.3 Energy = Pt (P=VI) therefore Energy =VIt, total amount of energy used depends
on the time current flows.
4.2.4 Because of the large amount of energy household use, it is inappropriate to use
joules. Instead the kilowatt-hour is used. This is the amount of energy used by a 1 kW
device in an hour. Energy in kilowatt-hours = power (kW) * t (hrs)
5.2.1 Like magnetic poles repel, unlike attract.
5.2.2 The direction of a magnetic field at a point is the direction of force on a very
small north magnetic pole when placed at that point.
5.2.4 Right hand grip rule: Grip wire with right hand, thumb pointing in direction of
conventional current, fingers will curl around in the direction of the magnetic field.
5.2.5 A solenoid has a closed loop from north to south much like a bar magnet. At one
end of the solenoid the fields go in (South Pole) at the other they come out (North
Pole). The only difference is that in a solenoid the field continues through the middle
as parallel lines.

6.2.1 A typical response of your bodys muscles to an electric shock would be:
1. Muscles contract so you wont be able to let go.
2. Muscles controlling the diaphragm cause it to clamp (cant breath)
3. Heart muscle goes into fibrillation (stops effective beating till heart stops
4. Death
Human bodies can withstand ten times as much DC current as AC, AC operates on
frequency (50-60 Hz) which is the same frequency our heart operates making AC
significantly more lethal than DC. 50-100 mA are the lethal limits for electric shock.
6.2.2 Circuit breakers shut off circuit when the current exceeds a safe level preventing
electrical fires. Fuses are designed the same way so that a wire melts shutting off the
circuit before the actual wires in the house would melt. Fuses need to be replaced,
whereas a circuit breaker can just be reset. Circuit breakers usually come in two types;
either bi-metallic strip, or ones that make use of an electromagnet. Earthing ensures
any lose current goes to the ground instead of building up and causing potential
problems. Double insulation protects from electrocution in the case the basic
insulation fails, items that have been double insulated do not need to be earthed.