How fast does electricity move?

Follow
  • Follow publicly
  • Follow privately
  • Unfollow
Best Answer
The speed of electricity through a wire is a bit of a complex question. It
depends on whether you are considering the rate at which electrons
themselves flow along a wire or whether you are considering the rate at
which an electrical signal passes along a wire.

In the first case, electrons themselves move quite slowly - about 100
micrometres per second (or, from another perspective, 1 metre in about 2.8
hours!) Clearly, this is not what we observe when we turn on a light switch.

Ideally, electricity moves at the speed of light. Imagine a tube full of
marbles. If you push a marble in at one end of the tube, another marble pops
out the other end almost instantaneously. Even if the individual marbles are
moving very slowly, the marble "wavefront" is travelling at a very high
velocity.

In the real world, things are not quite so tidy. Electricity flowing through
a gas, or having to work its way through electronic components such as
resistors or capacitors, can be slowed to speeds of 60 to 80 percent of
light speed. However, that's still fast enough that you can safely expect
the light to come on as soon as you flick the switch.

Source:

  • Rate
  • Comment

Other Answers (25)

Rated Highest
  • Rated Highest
  • Oldest
  • Newest
  • madsad m answered 8 years ago
    300,000 kilometers per second
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • shivbhakta answered 8 years ago
    depends on many thing resistance pot diff etc etc
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • Joe N answered 8 years ago
    It travels at the speed of light!
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • churie78 answered 8 years ago
    Depends on the resistance of the medium that it is flowing through.
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • swami060 answered 8 years ago
    Electricity travels at the speed of light.

    The electrons themselves move slowly, but the disturbance (caused by closing the circuit) itself travels with the speed of light.
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • craig m answered 8 years ago
    Faster than me.
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • ardni_987 answered 8 years ago
    the speed of light
    i.e., 299 792 458 m / s
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • nive answered 8 years ago
    i=q/t=charge/time
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • bty937915 answered 8 years ago
    Also what nobody has mentioned is that there is a break in the flow called Hz,or cycles ours is 50, USA is 60
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • ads_the_devil answered 8 years ago
    Speed of light my backside.

    Electricity is the flow of electrons.

    Electrons have mass and therefore can not move at the speed of light. E=mc²

    The time taken to get a response in a signal cable at point B, when a switch is thrown at point A, is dependant on the signal cable, and the ability of teh electrons to flow along it.

    Source(s):

    • Rate
    • Comment
  • Sign In 

    to add your answer

  • helene_thygesen answered 8 years ago
    There is some confusion here:

    What is measured in Amperes is NOT the speed of electricity but the intensity of the current, proportional to the number of electrons per second . If a four-lane highway allows twice as many cars per minute to enter the city than a two-lane highway would, this means twice as many "Amperes", yet the cars don't run faster. Also, an electromagnetic wave is NOT the same as electricity.

    While the speed of an electrical signal is generally close to the speed of light, the speed of individual electrons depends on the medium but also on the strength of electrical field, which is proportional to the force that the field exites on each electron. Imagine an astronaut on the moon (or Earth) that lets a metal ball fall in a glass of honey (or water). The thickness of the honey slows the ball, but also the Earth's strong gravitational field makes the balls fall faster on Earth.

    To compute the strength of the field, divide the voltage with the length of the wire. If the cable for your desktop lamp is two meters and the voltage is 110 Volt, the field strength is 110/2=55 Volts per meter. A Volt per meter is 0.00000000000000000016 Newton per electron.

    Source(s):

    You can get these figures with google calculator, e.g. "1 (electron volt per meter) in newtons". If you want American units, you can Google on e.g. "1 (electron volt per foot) in pound force"
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • genghis41f answered 8 years ago
    3x10 (power of 8) metres per sec, the speed of light. All electromagnetic waves do, including X-rays, Radio waves etc.
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • Graham I answered 8 years ago
    In a vacuum, it moves at the speed of light: approximately 186,000 mph, or 300,000,000 m/s. In a gas or a conducting medium it moves more slowly, but in a good conductor it is "close" to light speed, in the sense that for most purposes the slight reduction doesn't make much practical difference.
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • rhsaunders answered 8 years ago
    Interesting question. The electrons move quite slowly -- order of feet per second. But the electrical signal moves rapidly -- not as fast as the speed of light, but not very much less. If you are moving electricity through a coaxial cable, you can learn the propagation speed from the cable characteristics. But this is seldom done, because in the vast majority of cases it does not matter. (However, I know of a radar facility where it does matter -- the antenna is a phased array, and the time delays to the antenna elements are very significant.)
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • my_alias_id answered 8 years ago
    It depends on what it is moving through. Some metals conduct electricity, or energy, easier than others.
    Have you ever used a speed controller for a slot car, or something like that? The metal that is used in that controller make electricity move very slowly. The longer the piece of metal, the slower it moves.
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • bikeranimal69 answered 8 years ago
    Here's a hint about travel speed of electricity.. pull some wires out of a socket, wet the end of your fingers.... touch the bare red wire.. betya within nanoseconds you feel rahter uncomfortable...

    ONLY JOKING..FOR THOSE IDIOTS OUT THERE IN PC WORLD.. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!! IT WAS A JOKE!!

    Speed of electricity is measured in amps.. the higher the amperage, the faster the flow of electricity.. so the answer can be varied upon voltage and amperage!!
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • LocoFF answered 8 years ago
    Speed of Light
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • andy_manc_uk answered 8 years ago
    Depends what its going through and the temperature .... still, i imagine its faster than rush hour traffic.
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • answered 8 years ago
    It depends on the medium. For instance, in a vacuum (such as that in a cathode ray tube), electric currents flow at near the speed of light. In a solid conductor (such as a cable), its much slower. Also, the conductivity (conversely, the resistance) of such a medium also affects the speed at which electricity flows.

    Source(s):

    • Rate
    • Comment
  • Iornnil answered 8 years ago
    fast more than u moves
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • happyphat answered 8 years ago
    OK that's was a stupid question
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • old dude answered 8 years ago
    186,000 ft per sec....the speed of light
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • amy_2006 answered 8 years ago
    186,000 miles per second
    the speed of light
    --the medium doesn't change the actually "speed" of electricity, just how much and how "efficiently" its being conducted...if you have a bad conductor, just not as much electricity is going where you want it to go, it doesn't effect the actually speed of what is able to be conducted.

    Source(s):

    • Rate
    • Comment
  • AlphaOne_ answered 8 years ago
    I think that as any energy it moves at the speed of light - for the specific medium. I mean, the speed of light in vacuum is one thing, but it changes if the medium is different.
    • Rate
    • Comment
  • no1special answered 8 years ago
    fast
    • Rate
    • Comment

Who is following this question?

    %
    BEST ANSWERS
    Member since:
    Points: Points: Level
    Total answers:
    Points this week:
    Follow
     
    Unfollow
     
    Block
     
    Unblock