Why is electricity used to power most things? Is it because it is the most widely available? Why can't some other form of energy be used?

  • $\begingroup$ This seems to me to be entirely answerable within a small number of paragraphs. $\endgroup$
    – 410 gone
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 14:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is not a valid question. It reveals a serious lack of understanding of energy management, laws of thermodynamics, and rather a lot of other basic topics in physics and engineering. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ Electricity as opposed to what? Can you power a circuit board in a phone or a computer or an espresso machine with heat or kinetic energy?? $\endgroup$
    – sintax
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 16:57

1 Answer 1


Electricity is a convenient way to generate power centrally and distribute it to where it is needed according to demand. Central power generation by technologies like steam and gas turbines means that you can build large power plants with the associated gains in efficiency and economies of scale.

Electrical power is also very versatile:

  • Electric motors have good performance characteristics (good power to weight ratio, flat torque curves etc), are generally reliable, having few moving parts and are easy to control.

  • Heat and especially light can be generated directly from electrical current with very simple technology.

  • Electronics and micro-electronics are the most effective way by far that we have of miniaturizing logic and information processing. These inherently require electrical power to work. You could have mechanical computers but they are much harder to miniaturise.

  • Electrical power is clean and mostly quiet at the point of use.

  • It is easy and reasonably efficient to convert voltage for different applications.

Electrical power does have some disadvantages though. It is generally an expensive way to produce heat locally so oil, gas or other fuels may may more economic sense in many situations.

The ability to store electrical power is limited so while batteries are excellent for small, low powered self contained devices, electricity is less good for things which need to be mobile and use a lot of power. This also means that the infrastructure needs to be able to quickly adjust output according to overall demand.


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