Electricians may not be primarily known for their math skills. You might be more likely to think about a guy running wires or cables through walls, taking apart outlets with screwdrivers, or walking around with their hair sticking straight up from a recent jolt. But, in the real world, electricians are always using math to diagnose and create successful, useful and safe electrical connections and circuits.
Even if you aren’t aware of what electricians do, I’m sure you are aware of the potential dangers of electricity. Using the correct equations to select wire size, or gauge, can be crucial to prevent dangerous conditions in a house. How many times do you see a house fire on the news and the reason for the fire was determined to be faulty wiring? Now, you might recognize the importance of correct wiring.
A wire transmits electricity in a similar way to a hose transmitting water. If you try to push too much water through the hose under too much pressure, the hose might rupture. A similar thing can happen to a wire. If you try to put too much voltage and current through a wire, it will get hot and possible short out. This is why many house fires are caused by wiring. A wire shorts out and causes a spark.
Three of the basic properties electricians use in math formulas are voltage, current and resistance. Voltage is like pressure in a hose, it is the force of the electricity. Current is like the volume of water travelling through the hose, the flow. This electrical flow is measured in amps. Resistance is pretty much what it sounds like. It is the resistance to flow in the wire. Named for a wise guy a long time ago, resistance is measured in Ohm’s.
Electricians use many equations when diagnosing a circuit. Sometimes they use Ohm’s law, sometimes they calculate the power of a circuit by deducing the watts. And sometimes they are just trying to decide the correct gauge of wire to use. Either way, they are always using math, and these are just the very basics to give you a taste of what they do.
For more on the math electricians use, try some of these online calculators: