If charges travel very slowly through a metal, why doesn't it take several hours for a light to come on after you flip a switch?

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I am not sure if you have stated your question correctly.

Fact is that electric charge travels through the metal at same speed as thought any other conductor. This is same as the speed of light - about 300,000 kilometers per second. And it is because of this that a lamp lights on almost as soon as the switch is flipped on.

In some other appliance the action may not be as quick. For example, the coil of an electric heater may take a few seconds start glowing at its maximum intensity. This is because the energy generated by the passage of current through the coil is does not generate enough heat energy to heat the coil to its maximum temperature instantly.

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