Ask the Superexpert about Electricity

Have you ever wondered why shoes hanging on a power line don’t get fried? Or whether electric eels really create electricity? Now you can get answers to these and all your electricity-related questions. Just Ask the Superexpert!

The Superexpert answers new questions regularly, so check back to see if YOUR question is up!

In addition to these energy sources, Jennifer, Evergy has solar fields in its portfolio, and they supply battery backup systems. Evergy has also created a Home Battery Storage Pilot program. This program will allow Evergy to test how home batteries interact with the power grid. Batteries will be programmed to collect electricity from the local power grid during times of low demand and supply it to the home when power from the grid is most costly, thereby reducing users’ energy costs. The batteries can also be used to power critical appliances during outages. Battery storage systems are also used in commercial settings, as well as residential. You can find out more about this program here.

I think you are referring to 220-volt and 240-volt outlets, which are used for powering mechanical devices that require more energy than a standard 120-volt outlet can provide. A 220-volt outlet functions in the same way as a 240-volt outlet. Both are typically used to provide electricity for large appliances and equipment such as refrigerators, water heaters, dryers, and ovens.

Shoes hanging on a power line don’t get burned for the same reason that birds standing on a power line don’t get shocked: They don’t give electricity a path to the ground, so electricity stays in the line and does not go through them. But if the shoes were to touch a power line and a power pole at the same time, they would provide a path to the ground and would get blasted with electric current. It wouldn’t be pretty!

By the way, if you ever see someone throwing shoes up onto a line, tell them to stop! The shoes can damage the power line, or someone trying to get the shoes down could be seriously shocked or even killed.

Yes! An electric eel uses chemicals in its body to manufacture electricity. A large electric eel can produce a charge of up to 650 volts, which is more than five times the shocking power of a household outlet.

Ben Franklin probably did not do his famous kite experiment the way it is usually portrayed. (Franklin never wrote about it himself, and the only description we have of it was written by another scholar, Joseph Priestley, 15 years later.) Franklin believed lightning was a flow of electricity taking place in nature. He knew of electricity’s dangers, and would probably not have risked being struck by lightning by flying his kite during a storm. It is more likely that Franklin flew his kite before the storm occurred, and that his famous key gave off an electric spark by drawing small electrical charges from the air.

Neither! In the wires of an electrical circuit, the electrons are always jiggling around. When a circuit is closed to run an appliance or a light bulb, the electrons jiggle a lot and travel through the wire. When the circuit is open, all the electrons just jiggle where they are—kind of like running in place.

One lightning strike can carry between 100 million and 1 billion volts. (100 million volts is the equivalent of 8 million car batteries.)

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