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Small Appliance Basics

Publications International, Ltd. Circuits for heating and motor appliances

Electricity furnishes the energy that powers small appliances and other electrical devices. Current flows to the device through the hot (typically black) wire and returns through the neutral (typically white) wire. The power that moves the current is called voltage.

In most household systems, the hot wire has about 120 volts and the white wire has zero volts. The difference in voltage between the two wires moves the electric current and powers your appliance.

There are three types of small, portable, or household appliances. Some appliances, such as toasters and coffee makers, heat something. Other appliances, like food processors and vacuum cleaners, move something. A few appliances, such as hair dryers, do both.

Heating Appliances

Heating appliances convert electrical energy into heat, which is used to toast bread, warm coffee, dry hair, or perform other helpful tasks. This heat is developed by passing current through a special wire called an element. Since the element makes it difficult for electricity to pass through it, some of its energy turns into heat. The electricity uses so much of its energy to overcome the resistance of a toaster element, for instance, that it glows bright red, thus toasting the bread.

Common heating appliances include toasters, toaster ovens, coffee makers, clothing irons, deep fryers, slow cookers, popcorn poppers, and many more.

Motor Appliances

Motor appliances convert electrical energy into movement. This power cuts and blends foods, opens cans, grinds waste, picks up dirt, and moves air. A motor converts electrical energy into magnetic energy that rotates a shaft. The end of this shaft may have a blade or other attachment that does the actual work.

Motor appliances include food mixers and blenders, electric can openers, garbage disposers, vacuum cleaners, ice cream makers, electric knives, electric clocks, fans, humidifiers, and electric shavers.

Combination Appliances

Some small appliances both heat and move. The most popular is the electric bread maker. It mixes dough, then bakes it into bread. Other combination appliances include hair dryers and stirring popcorn poppers.

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