What Makes a Metal a Good Conductor of Electricity?

If you’ve ever worked in home repair or electricity, you probably already know that wiring can be expensive. Only certain metals, most commonly copper, can be used to make wiring, and can quickly become a major percentage of your budget.

Why can only a few types of metals be made into wiring for electrical work?

If you’ve ever wondered about why we can’t just make wiring out of cheap and readily available metals like stainless steel or iron, then read on for a quick and simple science lesson!   

In order to be used for wiring, a metal must conduct electricity. Metals that are good conductors of electricity can easily allow energy to flow through them. If energy can’t pass through the metal, it will never make it to the coils of a lamp or the hard drive of a gaming system when you plug them in!

The secret to allowing electricity to pass through metal is a high number of moveable atoms called “electrons.” When electricity is introduced to metal, those with a high number of free electrons will quickly move the energy, while those with a low number will hold onto it. The most conductive metal, pure silver, has a high number of free electrons, so that it can move energy very quickly. However, silver also comes with a hefty price tag, so the next best option (copper) is most often used.

More inexpensive metals like stainless steel and lead have a low number of free electrons, so it is difficult for electricity to pass through them. Thus, they are most often used as insulators to coat machinery. They hold onto energy instead of allowing it to seep through the metal, making these metals ideal for keeping electricity inside of generators or reactors.

If you have leftover scrap metal after a job, don’t toss it! Head to your local metal scrap yard open on Sunday in Montgomery County, Sgt. Scrap. You’ll be able to clear out your workspace using our roll off container service in Gloucester County, and you’ll be left with more money in your pocket as well! Give us a call today at 856-356-2516 or 1-877 Copper0 to schedule a pickup today.

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