You must have used electric water heaters, ironed your clothes, or hair straightener. Electricity is one of the phenomenal sources of heat energy in our world today. It plays a vital role in day-to-day life, whether it’s your kitchen chores or bathroom essentials. If you wonder how and why the heating effect of current exists, there’s a lot of science to explain.
In simpler words, every element on earth has electrons, and all the different electricity conductors have different amounts. When you pass an electric current through a conductor, it flows in a direction opposite to electrons’. This resistance of electrons leads to heat generation in the conducting medium. There are both Advantages and Disadvantages of the Heating effect of Current to consider, depending on its uses.
Advantages of Heating Effect of Current
Considering how many applications heat electricity play its role in everyday life, there are numerous advantages of the heating effect of current that come into play. Here are some of those:
1. Energy Efficiency
According to National Geographic, heating with electricity is more efficient than using natural gas or oil to produce the same amount of heat. These benefits of electricity current make it an attractive choice for home heating and also in the industries. Also, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average transmission losses from electric power plants at 33% of production by volume were far less than those incurred by fossil fuel-fired technologies of 45 – 55%.
This means that only one-third of the energy produced by electrical generation gets wasted during transportation on distribution lines. This makes electricity more efficient than using fuels like coal, oil, or even solar panels themselves.
Another potential benefit of electric heat is that it can be delivered anywhere using a power line. This means that electric heaters don’t have to rely on other sources such as natural gas or oil, requiring pipelines for transportation and storage. Electricity can travel rapidly over long distances without having any temperature loss compared to fossil fuels, providing flexibility in its use.
An example is that not every home would have access to locally extracted coal, but all homes are within reach of an electrical grid. This is why every one in four homes in the US today are electric.
3. The Cleanliness Factor
Since electricity is a clean energy source, it produces minimal emissions. According to the U.S Department of Energy’s website, carbon dioxide (CO) and greenhouse gas emissions from burning natural gas for residential heating are about 25% higher than those emitted by electric heaters! In addition to this, most coal plants emit mercury which can negatively affect human health and cause problems in aquatic life if released into water bodies such as rivers or oceans.
Oil and natural gas have still concerns regarding their environmental impacts due to the release of undesirable chemicals that could harm our atmospheric quality. This makes them an ultimately unsustainable choice for the long term. This makes using electricity even more attractive because not only it is cleaner in comparison with other sources, but it is also renewable and environmentally friendly.
4. Electric Heat is Convenient
Electricity is a very convenient way to heat things. It’s the only household heating source that does not require people to work or burn something to do its job. Instead of using a fire, gas stove/oven burner, oil lamp, wood-burning fireplace, or pellet stove, you can choose a smarter way. You can simply plug an appliance into the wall outlet and turn on the power switch. No other fuel type can be used this easily because others require additional steps before working at all.
In contrast, electric appliances start working right away even when powered off due to their ability to store energy within batteries, allowing them to operate without being plugged in.
Electric heating appliances are significantly cheaper and have a low environmental impact. Whatever you use adds to your electricity bills at the end of the month. This is because the electricity they use comes from a power plant burning some other type of fuel, usually natural gas or coal which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when burned. If more homes used renewable sources such as solar panels to generate their electricity, they could heat things without pollution. But due to climatic issues, it isn’t possible at all.
Thus, where there is no sunlight or wind throughout the year, power grids are a viable option to produce electricity. In terms of cost, fossil fuels harvesting and are shipping process adds further to costs and taxes at your end. However, power plants generate electricity and supply it to homes which you can use to generate heat for various purposes.
6. Easier to control than fire
While fire is the oldest source of energy, it is not surprising that fire is tricker to handle. We all have heard of the saying that fire is a good servant, but a bad master. Hence, people tend to flock toward any heating source that can get controlled. And one such energy that fits the bill is the heating effect of electric current. Not only is the energy more efficient at heating than fire, as it radiates energy equally, but it is also more controllable. That is why we have seen a rapid rise in the use of such heating appliances in recent years.
Disadvantages of Heating Effect of Current
While the advantages offered by electricity are numerous, there are still some notable disadvantages to be considered. From generation to supply, it’s the heating effect of current that amounts to energy loss mostly. One of the primary issues related to using electric heat is the expense when compared with other options available. Electricity has a few downsides, making it less attractive than using fuels like natural gas or coal.
The energy produced through the heating effect of current is costly. For example, to supply electricity to a remote village require companies to install equipment such sa transformers and cables to bear the load potential. The farther the village is, the higher is the cost. This eventually will be paid by the consumers in different forms. Let’s not forget that prices of electricity consumption are different prices around the world. Different types of energy providers and people decide on purchasing electricity sources or even decide whether it’s a better alternative to conventional heating systems or not.
2. Disadvantageous Disposal
Electrical equipment used for home heating purposes also needs to be disposed of uniquely because the electrical currents running through it could pose a danger if not handled properly. It should never be thrown out with regular household garbage and instead taken to a recycling center or authorized disposal facility. Electric heat can also cause some people problems as their primary source of heat due to health complications.
Different complications might arise from being exposed too long, such as smoke inhalation, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc. This primarily occurs during winter months, where homes become more enclosed, leading to potential issues arising from breathing in these fumes while keeping warm.
3. Heating effect of current can cause accidents
An additional disadvantage of using an electric appliance for home heating purposes is the risk that it can cause accidents. Faulty wiring or excessive electrical appliances like geysers, iron, or even microwave ovens can lead to mishaps. It’s better to disconnect all appliances and other sources from power outlets after use. You should consider doing so before leaving a house for winter vacation and during severe weather disruptions such as storms, hurricanes, etc.
The heating effect of the current wears out the cables and wiring systems. The older it gets, the weaker is the strength of cables. In addition, consider that electricity needs constant maintenance throughout its lifecycle and get it repaired regularly.
4. Heat Loss
Yes, unfortunately, heat loss during the transmission is one of the potential drawbacks of the heating effect of current. According to a study, The US Grid loses around 5% of energy during electricity transmission. Copper is the third-best conductor of electricity, next to Gold and Silver. Even though the metal is sufficient to carry electric current through it, the metal offers more resistance to current, making the cables or junctions heat up. That’s why it’s usual to see cables burning red-hot due to potential overload.
5. Waste of Energy
Although the heating effect of an electrical current is useful, technically speaking, it is just a byproduct or waste. When electrical current travel in a circuit, it radiates heat, which is simply the result of energy transmission. It is a whole different matter that we can use this byproduct smartly. Hence, in conclusion, the heat generated during electrical discharge is waste.