60+ Supercharged Facts About Electricity to Amp You Up

Think you know everything about electricity? Check out 60+ eye-opening electrical facts below and test your knowledge of watt’s up.

60+ High-Voltage Electrical Facts That Will Shock You 

1. Static electricity was discovered in 600 B.C. by a Greek man by the name of Thales, who learned that when he rubbed a piece of amber with silk, it became electrically charged.

2. A single spark of static electricity can measure as high as 3,000 volts.

3. Ancient Egyptians also knew that electric fish and lightning were powerful and potentially deadly. These fish were called the “Thunderers of the Nile.”

4. The English word “electricity” originates from the Greek word “elektron,” which translates to “amber.”

5. The first use of the words “electric” and “electricity” occurred in a scientific journal in 1946 by Thomas Browne called Pseudodoxia Epidemica.

6. The English word “electrocute” is a combination of the words “electro” and “execute,” which means “fatal electric shock.”

7. The English word “volt” comes from the name Alessandro Volta, who first invented the electric battery in 1799.

8. Volta’s battery was called the “voltaic pile,” which was a stack of metal discs immersed in a brine solution, which created electricity by way of chemical reaction.

9. Alessandro Volta was so revered that Napoleon Bonaparte became his laboratory assistant.

10. Electricity travels almost the speed of light, at around 270,000 km/s. This is equivalent to 670,616,629 mph.

11. Lightning is pure electricity being discharged into the atmosphere.

12. A lightning strike can produce as much energy in 10 seconds as 500 tons of detonated dynamite.

13. Just one lightning bolt can generate up to 3 million volts of electricity in just 1 second. It can travel 130,000 mph and reach temperatures of 54,000° Fahrenheit.

14. Contrary to popular belief, Benjamin Franklin did not discover electricity. He only demonstrated that lightning and electricity were related.

15. To fund his research, Benjamin Franklin had to sell all of his material possessions.

16. Benjamin Franklin’s kite was likely not hit by lightning, otherwise he would have died instantly. Instead, scholars believe the kite attracted electrical charges from the air as a result of the storm.

17. However, Franklin may not have been the first to do this. Historians suggest that lightning and electricity were first linked with one another when Arabic physicists and naturalists began to call electric eels and rays “ra’ad,” which is the Arabic word for “lightning.”

18. Electrical currents flow as either a direct current or an alternating current. In direct currents, electrons flow in one direction. In alternating currents, the electrons switch directions, moving forward and then backwards over and over again.

19. Thomas Edison invented the DC current while Nikola Tesla invented the AC current. DC was primarily used in the early days of electricity, but AC offered more benefits and the ability to move power across long distances.

20. The first electric generator was created in 1663 by Otto von Guericke, a German scientist who studied the production of static electricity. His device was made of a sulfur ball inside of a glass globe, which could be rotated with a hand crank. When the ball was rubbed with a pad, it generated a spark of static electricity.

21. Another type of generator was created in the early 1700s by Francis Hauksbee, who at the time was Isaac Newton’s laboratory assistant. His creation was a glass ball that glowed brightly when it was rubbed. This technology was later used to develop neon lighting.

22. The key ideas behind electricity generation were established in the 1820s by Michael Faraday, a British scientist who discovered that electrical energy can be created by moving a loop of wire or copper disc between the two poles of a magnet. This is called electromagnetic induction.

23. In 1878, Sydney, Australia’s General Post Office recorded the country’s first use of electricity.

24. In 1879, Mosley Street in Newcastle upon Tyne was the first street in the world to feature electric lighting.

25. In 1882, Thomas Edison created the first power plant, called Pearl Station in Manhattan. The company powered just 85 buildings with Edison’s light bulbs.

26. The first home with electricity was also lit in 1882 and is currently a historical museum called Hearthstone in Appleton, Wisconsin.

27. In 1891, an American inventor by the name of William Morrison created the first successful electric-powered car.

28. In 1896, Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II brought in two electric chairs to be used for capital punishment. However, these were pointless without electricity, which the country didn’t have at the time and wouldn’t until around 1920. Allegedly, the emperor used one of the chairs as his throne.

29. In 1935, Ciril Diaz was a Cuban inventor who created an electroshock glove.

30. In 1969, the electric TASER was created but wasn’t finished until 1974. A typical taser can produce as much as 50,000 volts of electrical energy and can temporarily paralyze someone. If misused, tasers can cause serious injury or even death.

31. A refrigerator from the 1980s typically used about 1400 kWh of electricity per year. Now, the average fridge uses about 350 kWh annually.

32. A Playstation 3 uses approximately 200 watts of electricity whether it’s idle or in use.

33. Desktop computers use 80 watts of electrical energy when idling, while the typical laptop uses 20 watts.

34. The human body uses electricity to pass signals from nerves to muscles. This is what causes heart muscles to contract and makes the heart beat.

35. The human heart generates around 100 watts at rest, which is enough electricity to power a flashlight.

36. Humans engaging in strenuous activity can produce over 2,000 watts of electricity.

37. Without the right amount of electricity, a heart will fall out of rhythm.

38. The average human brain requires 20 watts of electricity every day.

39. The average light bulb requires 100 watts of electrical energy per hour.

40. The first commercially available lightbulb was created by Thomas Edison in 1879.

41. The light bulb was not immediately successful and most people still continued to use tallow candles for lighting.

42. Thomas Edison attempted to undermine Nikola Tesla’s AC power and is accused of electrocuting an elephant named Topsy with 6,600 volts of AC electricity to showcase how “dangerous” it was.

43. Edison was later cleared of wrongdoing in Topsy’s death since he was not directly involved with the elephant, however, he used AC power to electrocute animals that were placed on metal plates in West Orange, New York.

44. Thomas Edison was also involved in the invention of the electric chair.

45. The world’s largest light bulb is 14 feet tall and is perched on top of the Thomas Edison Memorial Tower in Edison, New Jersey.

46. LED light bulbs only use 1/6th of the electrical energy of conventional incandescent bulbs. They also cost about 75% less to power and last 40 times as long.

47. The largest source of electrical energy worldwide is coal. As coal is burned, it evaporates water into steam, which then moves a turbine that is connected to a generator that uses this 48. movement to create electricity. Unfortunately, coal is a finite resource and must be replaced with sources of renewable energy.

49. In West Virginia, over 90% of the state’s energy is created using coal.

50. In California, just 1% of electrical energy is made from coal.

51. In Washington state, about 70% of the area’s total electricity is generated in hydropower plants.

52. Iceland uses more electricity than any other country – about 23% more than the United States.

53. On average, American homes use 10,500 kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity annually according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

54. The very first domestic appliances to use electricity were toasters, kettles, fans, and sewing machines.

55. An average microwave oven with a digital clock uses more electricity to power the display than it does cooking food.

56. Electricity can be used to treat certain mental illnesses by inducing controlled seizures during Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).

57. In Sweden, ore trains that travel down the coast create 5 times more electricity than they use, which helps power other trains and even nearby towns.

58. In Albertville, France, electricity is generated from the cheese making process. Beaufort cheese doesn’t require whey, so the whey is strained off and combined with bacteria to turn it into a mixture called biogas. Then, this is used to run an electric engine that heats up water, thereby generating electricity.

59. Birds don’t get electrocuted when they come into contact with power lines because they only touch one and don’t create a circuit. If a bird were to touch two at once, or a power line and the ground at the same time, then a circuit would be connected and the bird would be electrocuted.

60. In some native fish species in the Amazon River, special cells called electrocytes are used for echolocation to find prey in the dark, similar to the way bats do.

61. Electric eels are made up of about 80% electrocytes, which allows them to deliver a 500-600 volt shock in self defense.

62. Geckos also have electrocytes on their toe pads, which generate enough static electricity to help their feet “stick” onto smooth surfaces.

63. Platypuses have around 40,000 electric receptors on their bills, which helps them sense the electrical impulses sent by prey, making them avid hunters.

64. A scientific study in 2022 showed that bee swarms can generate the same kind of ambient electrical fields that are produced by thunderstorms. This is because bees are always rubbing their bodies against plants and beating their wings hundreds of times every second. This generates static electricity, which was measured by researchers at 100 to 1,000 volts per meter. This is 8 times the power found in the average storm cloud.