Conductor vs. Insulator: What are they and how do they work?

Apr 4, 2022

Conductors and insulators are both important when it comes to practical household electrical work. All materials are different in the way they allow electrons to move through them. Electrical conductivity relies on electron movement, as protons and neutrons are not able to move on their own. Conductors are materials that conduct electricity, and therefore allow electrons to freely move through them, whereas insulators are the opposite.

What are Conductors?

Conductors are materials or objects that conduct heat, electricity, light, or sound. Most metals are conductors, as they easily conduct electrical current. The best conductors are single-element materials such as:
– Copper (Cu)
– Silver (Ag)
– Gold (Au)

What are Insulators?

Insulators are materials that do not easily transmit energy, such as electrical current or heat. Electrons inside insulators are tightly bound inside atoms, therefore they do not allow for the electrons to move through them freely like they would in a conductor. Insulators have a very large value of resistance. Examples of insulators include:
– Glass
– Wood
– Plastic

Conductors and insulators are both very important and offer a different set of advantages and uses. Conductors are essential as they conduct the movement of electricity and heat, and insulators allow for that charge to be kept contained and protect us from experiencing electric shocks and burns. This is why sometimes you may experience a shock from something metal (conductor), such as your car, and why common electrical appliances are covered with a material such as plastic (insulator) to prevent the electrical charge from shocking you when you touch it.

We hope this was a helpful refresher when it comes to the differences between conductors and insulators and some of their practical uses. With decades of experience, the experts at AJ’s Electrical are ready to help you with your home’s electrical needs. There’s no job too big or small! Contact us today.


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