What Causes Electric Fields?

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Electrical fields are caused by the attraction and repulsion of electrical charges. Electrical fields are measured using volts per meter and are central to the functioning of electrically-powered devices, such as televisions, light bulbs and computers.

The electrical field is always directed away from positive source charges and towards negative source charges. The attraction-repulsion quality of electrical fields takes place when a balloon generates static electricity after being rubbed against hair or fur. In this instance, a charged balloon attracts an oppositely charged balloon even when they are not in contact. The unit of static electricity was created to describe the non-contact force observed on objects with static charges and was central in defining the concept of electric fields, according to The Physics Classroom.

The intensity of an electric field in an electronic appliance, such as a lamp, is affected by the power supply of the appliance — the higher the power supply, the greater the intensity of the electrical field. A common power supply is an AC power plug and socket, although batteries are also used to generate electrical fields within electronic devices. An electrical field is also similar to the gravitational field because both are forces that act over a distance separating two objects, or action-at-a-distance forces.