Current Electricity

Electrical Insulators

Do you ever think about how items like glass, air and wood can play an essential role in electrical purposes? If not, this may surprise you a lot. Glass, wood, plastic, cardboard, paper and even dry air are very common insulator materials. In this article, we will throw light on electrical insulators.

electrical insulators

Introduction to Electrical Insulators

Electrical insulators are not the same as electrical conductors. Electrical conductors are the kind of materials which can propagate the ease of flow of electricity throughout them. In other words, they allow charges to flow easily through them.

However, on the other hand, insulators are materials that do not allow electric charges to flow freely through them. Conductors possess a property which we refer to as conductivity.

It is what defines their ability to conduct electricity. For insulators, their efficiency is determined on the basis of how much resistance they provide to the flow of electricity. Thus, in contrast to conductivity, we call this property as resistivity.

Examples of Insulators

  1. Plastic
  2. Wood
  3. Rubber
  4. Styrofoam
  5. Wax
  6. Air
  7. Glass

Most non-metals are poor conductors and thus good insulators. They do not possess free electrons available for conducting electricity. Materials with larger resistivity values provide greater resistance to the flow of electric current.

As a result, they are better insulators. For instance, glass has a resistivity value of 1012 Ωm (ohmmeter), and copper has a value of resistivity of 10-12 Ωm. The properties which impact the effectiveness of an insulator are:

  1. High resistivity
  2. Air permeability
  3. Breakdown voltage
  4. Atomic structure

Use of Insulators

1)It is natural to wonder why are electrical insulators important when electric charges cannot pass through them. Generally, these insulators come in great use at home, offices, streets as well.

2)We use them in electrical appliances as well as equipment. Human skin is one of the best conductors of electric charges. Moreover, when there is an electrical insulator material present, it will prevent as well as protect the electrical devices from producing high voltage.

3)All in all, it prevents the passing of high voltage in an electric circuit. Further, it also helps to reduce the cost of energy. They also help to save the environment as it controls the emission of pollutants.

4)In addition, it enhances the process performances too. It also protects us from getting electric shocks or electrocution. Finally, it also allows soundproofing the appliances.

Application of Electrical Insulators

As the electrical insulator materials bind the electrons tightly, it prevents the electrons to float from atom to atom. As a result, it prevents the conduction of electric charges. Thus, we see that there are multifold applications of electrical insulator. We apply them to:

  1. Circuit boards
  2. Coating for electric poles on the streets
  3. High voltage appliances
  4. Coating of cables
  5. Coating of electric wires

Types of Electrical Insulation in Overhead Lines

Electrical insulators can endure the charges from electricity. We classify them broadly into three types of electrical insulation on the basis of their operating voltage levels and applications. They are:

Pin Type Electrical Insulator: This type is most suited for supporting low voltage line conductors.

Suspension Type Electrical Insulator: These kinds are best for handling high-voltage transmission lines. This electrical insulator has porcelain discs in a series inside it.

Strain Type Electrical Insulator: We also refer to this insulator as tension insulator. They are most suited for high voltages when the electrical line is subject to change in the direction of the line and also at higher-tension areas at sharp curves, river crossings and more.

FAQ on Electrical Insulators

Question 1: What are electrical insulators?

Answer 1: Electrical insulators are materials that do not allow electric charges to flow freely through them. For insulators, their efficiency is determined on the basis of how much resistance they provide to the flow of electricity. Thus, in contrast to conductivity, we call this property as resistivity. For instance, wood, plastic, rubber and wax are electrical insulators.

Question 2: States some uses of electrical insulators.

Answer 2: They prevent the passing of high voltage in an electric circuit. Further, it also helps to reduce the cost of energy. They also help to save the environment as it controls the emission of pollutants. In addition, it enhances the process performances too. It also protects us from getting electric shocks or electrocution.

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