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Electrical conductors are materials that conduct electricity. Insulators are the opposite which means they do not conduct electricity at all. The ability of a substance or a material to conduct electricity depends on how easily electrons can flow through it.
Before anything else, I have a quick answer to the question, is wood a conductor or an insulator? DRY wood is an insulator, but when it is WET, it CAN become a good conductor, just like most materials.
Why Is Wood A Good Insulator?
Wood is a natural insulator because of the presence of air pockets within its cellular structure. It is known to be 15 times better than masonry, 400 times far better than steel, and a whopping 1770 times better than aluminum in insulating a home.
Aside from these, you can use lightweight wood to build frames so that fiber and foam insulation may be installed in a home or structure.
And because of this improved performance in insulating structures, homes and buildings constructed out of engineered wood like Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) need less energy to heat a home or cool it. This means more savings because of reduced energy bills.
Aside from the mentioned wood’s amazing properties, wood is also hygroscopic and can naturally exchange moisture with the surrounding air. This creates a buffer in cases of short-term changes in humidity as well as temperature.
Why Is Wood A Good Conductor?
Is wood an electrical conductor? The answer could be a yes and a no, although wood is generally considered a non-conducting substance.
Electricity cannot pass through the wood because it is made of organic compounds that do not contain free electrons. However, moist or damp wood can transmit electricity to varying degrees. Thus, in this case, it is not the wood that makes the electricity flow but rather the moisture inside it.
Numerous molecules that are closely bound together make up wood. Atoms are contained in these molecules, in turn. However, when we apply an electric field to wood, a certain amount of polarization occurs because the atoms are so firmly linked that they cannot move, blocking the free flow of electricity.
How To Prevent Wood Electrical Shock
As said, if the wood is wet, it still poses a risk. The wood can be transformed into a very good conductor at low voltage. You must be careful when using wooden ladders when dealing with power lines. Many people typically think that electricity cannot travel through the wood. On the contrary, turning the voltage high enough can force electric current and flow or travel through the wood.
Wear the proper safety equipment, such as specialized anti-electrical gloves and tools, when dealing with wood pieces, power tools, or other electrical devices. Understand how electricity or power works and be aware of your boundaries. Before using wood surfaces, dry them out. Avoid working close to water sources since spills could go undetected.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) installation reduces your risk of an electrical shock compared to standard electrical outlets and sockets. Furthermore, fire problems will be avoided.
Wood, especially dry wood, is an insulator. It can be a good conductor because of its moisture content. However, it is not the wood itself that makes the electricity flow. On top of everything, wood properties are still involved in this discussion, proving that wood is still unique. It can be an insulator or conductor because it is a fact that even science cannot change.