1.21 Gigawatts of Electricity- Part 1

While my brother is the electrical engineering student guy, and I may bribe him to come around and write a thing or two, I’ve electrocuted myself enough times to feel like I at least have a layperson’s handle on the mysterious powers of the aether.

First off, despite being oriented toward automobile electrical systems, this is a pretty quick and decent explanation of basic electrical theory. Just ignore the one dude’s weird voice and lame chin goatee…

Electricity comes in two basic flavors: Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). Generally speaking almost all household systems will be powered by AC and automotive systems powered by DC for a variety of different reasons, however, if you only remember one thing about AC vs DC current, remember this: Thomas Edison was a douchebag.

General Safety Principle: Household circuits are protected by circuit breakers (or fuses in old houses) and that circuit breaker is selected and rated for a particular current load, measured in amps, and everything else in the circuit tied to that breaker is also rated for the same load as the breaker. The plug in in your wall, the wires behind the wall leading to the breaker, and any switches in between all have to be rated for the same current load as the breaker that’s protecting it all. The same principle is true for any electrical circuit you build and everything in that circuit needs to be rated to handle the amount of power that could potentially flow through it otherwise…


The field of electricity is huge and like I said, I’m a layperson. My advice is to start reading up online on the particular thing you want to do. If you want to wire in a plug in a wall, there are tons of online tutorials that will get you started. However, if your interest is more geared toward small, lower power electronic circuits, you’re in luck because there are tons of tutorials and even beginner kits that you can build to get your feet wet.

And just for fun, check out Sam Barros’ Power Labs and see just how crazy fun with electricity can get.

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