HEATING EFFECT OF ELECTRIC CURRENT
When an electric current passes through a bulb, the filament gets so hot that it glows and emits light. When a current passes through the filament of an electric iron, the iron becomes very hot. This increase in temperature is due to what is called 'the heat produced due to current'.Suppose a resistor R is connected to a cell. The cell maintains a potential difference V across the resistor, driving a current i through it.
So, V = iR ......(i)
The current through the resistor is actually a flow of negative charges (electrons). Inside the cell, the negative charges flow from the positive to the negative terminal. The cell does work = QV to take a charge through the potential difference V between its terminals. This increases the energy of the charge by QV. This increased energy gets converted to heat in the resistor. So, the energy appearing as heat is given by
U = QV .....(ii)
The charge that passes through the wire in time t is
Q =it. ......(iii)
Using (i), (ii) and (iii), we find that the heat produced in the wire in time t is
U =QV = (it)
(iR) =i2 Rt.
From Equation the heat produced is proportional to the square of the current, if R and t remain constant. So, if the current passing for a given time through a given resistance is doubled, the heat produced becomes four times. Similarly, for a given i and t, the heat produced is proportional to R. If the same current i passes through two resistances in a given time, more heat will be produced in the larger resistance. The heat produced can also be written as.
For a given V and t, the heat produced is inversely proportional to R. So, if the same potential difference is applied across two resistances, more heat will be produced in the smaller resistance.
We have seen above that the increased energy of a charge gets converted to heat in the resistor. The increase in energy comes from the work done by the cell. This uses up the chemical energy of the cell. So, the energy appearing as heat in the resistor ultimately comes at the expense of the chemical energy of the cell.
Not always is the work done by a cell converted to heat. Immediately after a motor is connected to a cell, the speed of the shaft of the motor increases. A part of the work done by the cell goes into producing the increase in kinetic energy. And a part is used to overcome friction, etc. When the motor achieves a constant speed, its kinetic energy does not change. So the work done by the cell is only used to overcome friction, etc. This appears as heat. That is why the cover over a motor becomes warm on use.
Power is the rate of doing work, or the rate at which energy is produced or consumed. The electrical energy produced or consumed per unit time is called electric power. In an electric circuit, the power is
Using iR = V
P = Vi
The energy consudmed and power are realted as
U = Pt.
Unit of Power
The SI unit of energy is the joule, and that of time is the second. The SI unit of power is therefore joule/second. This unit is called the watt, whose symbol is W.
Applications of the Heating Effect of Current
The heating effect of electric current has many uses. Electric bulbs, room heaters, electric irons, immersion heaters, toasters, electric fuses and a number of other appliances work on this principle. In all of these, a wire of suitable resistance, commonly called the heating element, is connected to the power supply. The current passing through the element produces heat in it, which is used for some specific purpose.
An electric bulb has a simple structure. It consists of a sealed glass bulb that has a tungsten filament connected to two electrical contacts. The bulb is filled with an unreactive gas like argon or nitrogen. To produce white light, the filament has to be heated to about 3000°C by passing a current through it. Obviously, the material of the filament should such that it does not melt at this temperature. Tungsten is used for the filament because its melting point is about 3400°C. The sealed glass bulb serves two purposes. First, it protects the filament from oxidation and the effects of humidity. Secondly, the small enclosed volume makes it easier to maintain the required temperature, as without it the loss of heat would be more.
A fuse is a safety device that does not allow excessive current to flow through an electric circuit. It consists of a metallic wire of low melting point, fixed between the two terminals of a fuse plug. The fuse plug fits into a fuse socket connected in the circuit. Fuses are available in various shapes. The fuse plug is used in household wiring. It is made of porcelain.
A fuse is connected in series with an appliance (such as a TV) or a group of appliances (such as the lights and fans in a room). So, the current through the fuse is the same as the current through the appliance or the group of appliances. If this current exceeds a safe value, the heat produced in the fuse wire causes it to melt immediately. This breaks the circuit, preventing any damage. Figure shows examples of how a fuse is connected in circuits.
Good-quality fuse wires are made of tin, as it has a low melting point. Some fuse wires are made of an alloy of tin and copper. The thickness of the fuse wire depends on the circuit in which it is to be used. If a section of the circuit is meant to carry a maximum of 5A current, the fuse wire should also be able to carry currents up to
5A. Similarly, for wiring meant for 15A, the fuse wire should be thicker, and should be able to carry currents up to 15A.
Disadvantages of the Heating Effect of Current
A current always produces some heat, whether we use the heat or not. If the heat produced cannot be utilized, it represents a wastage of energy. A considerable amount of energy is thus wasted in the transmission of electricity from the generating station to our homes. Sometimes, the heat produced in a device is so much that it can damage the device, unless proper cooling arrangements are made. To dissipate the heat produced in TV sets, monitors, etc., their cabinets have grills for air to pass. Certain components of a computer get so hot that they have fans to cool them.
Rating of Electric Appliances
Take an electric bulb and see what is written on it. Apart from the name and the symbol of the company, we will find values of power and potential difference. For example, it could be 60W, 220V. It means that 220V should be applied across this bulb, and when 220V is applied, the power consumed will be 60W. We will find similar markings on all electric· appliances. For an electric appliance, the values of power and voltage taken together form what is called the rating of the appliance. From the rating of an appliance, you can easily calculate its resistance by using the equation P = . Note that higher the power rating, smaller the resistance. So, a 1000W heater has less resistance than a 100W bulb. We can also calculate the current drawn by an appliance by using the relation i = .
Power is the rate of energy consumed or produced. If 1 joule of energy is used per second, the energy is used at the rate of 1 watt. In other words, if energy is used at the rate of 1 watt, the total energy used in 1 second is 1 joule. How much energy is used in 1 hour if it is used at the rate of 1000 watt?
It is (1000 watt) × (3600 second) = 3,600,000 joule.
This amount of energy is called 1 kilowatt hour, written in short as kWh. Thus, 1 kWh =3,600,000 J = 3.6 × 106J. The electrical energy used in houses, factories, etc., is measured in kilowatt hours. The cost of electricity is fixed per kilowatt hour. One kilowatt hour of electrical energy is called one unit.