Difference between Static Electricity and Current Electricity

Electricity is nothing but a form of energy. The electricity is caused by the electric charge, where the charge is a property of subatomic particles such as electrons and protons. The electrons carry negative charge while the protons carry a positive charge.

Technically, electricity is the phenomenon which involves either accumulation or movement of electric charge. Therefore, based on these two parameters (accumulation and movement of charge), the electricity can be of two types viz.

  • Static Electricity

  • Current Electricity

In this post, we will highlight all the significant differences between static electricity and current electricity by considering various factors such as basic definition, cause, measuring device, production of magnetic field, applications, etc. But, before going into the differentiation, it is advantageous to known that what static electricity and current electricity are.

What is Static Electricity?

The term static denotes a situation in which there is no movement. Thus, the term static electricity represents the electricity where the electric charge is at rest. The static electricity is caused by the accumulation of electric charges on the surface of a body.

The static charges remain on the surface of the object until they are grounded or released. One of the simplest method of generating static electricity is by rubbing two objects. As we know, every object is made of tiny particles called atoms. Inside an atom, there are subatomic particles viz. electrons, protons and neutrons. The neutron and proton lie in the nucleus of the atom, while the electrons move around the nucleus and weakly bound to nucleus. Under normal conditions, the number of protons and electrons in an atom are equal.

Now, when two objects are rubbed together, the electrons having weak bonds transfer from one object to another. Thus, the object which lose electrons becomes positively charged and the object which gains the electrons becomes negatively charged. These charges cannot move, thus in this way, the accumulation of static charges on a body causes static electricity.

What is Current Electricity?

The electricity which is caused by the movement of electric charge in an object is known as current electricity. When there is a potential difference between two ends of an object, then it causes the flow of electrons within the object and hence causes the flow of electric current.

Current electricity also has a magnetic field associated with it, which means the moving electrons also produce a magnetic field. The current electricity is the backbone of all the work performed by the use of electricity in everyday life such as light, moving fan, electrolysis, etc.

The current electricity is mainly caused by the movement of free electrons (electrons in the last shell of an atom). When these free electrons are directed to move in a particular direction, they cause electric current flow through the body. Hence, in simple words, we can say the movement of electrons in a body produces the current electricity.

Difference between Static Electricity and Current Electricity

The following table gives all the major differences between static electricity and current electricity −

Basis of Difference
Static Electricity
Current Electricity
The electricity which is produced by the accumulation of electric charges on the surface of an object is called static electricity.The electricity which is generated by the movement of electric charges (mainly electrons) in an object is called current electricity.
Static electricity is caused by the accumulation (charge at rest) of charge on the surface of the body.Current electricity is caused by the movement of charge or electrons.
Flow of current
There is no flow of current through the body in case of static electricity.In case of current electricity, current flows through the body.
Time of existence
Static electricity exists for a very short duration of time.Current electricity can present for a long time.
Material in which exist
Static electricity can develop in both conductor and insulator.Current electricity can only develop in conductors.
Magnetic effect
Static electricity does not produce the magnetic effect.Current electricity produces the magnetic effect.
Static electricity can be demonstrated by rubbing two objects together.Current electricity is demonstrated by applying a voltage across a conductor.
Measuring device
The existence and nature of static electricity is determined by using a gold leaf electroscope.A number of devices such as ammeter, galvanometer, multimeter, etc. are available to determine the existence and measure of the current electricity.
Some real world examples of static electricity are lightening strokes, dust particles stick to television screen, crackling sound made by woolen clothes, sticking balloon to any surface, etc.The common examples of current electricity are glowing lamp, running fan or pump motor, electric shock, heating of electric iron, etc.
Static electricity has many practical applications such as − removal of smoke from waste gases in a power station, in an HVAV system to remove polluting particles, in inkjet printers to guide a jet of ink, in laser printers for sticking ink on a paper, in Van-de-Graff generator used in nuclear physics researches, etc.Current electricity is used to operate all the electrical appliances that are used in daily life such as motor, refrigerator, AC, cooler, lamps, etc.


The most significant difference between Static Electricity and Current Electricity is that in case of static electricity, the charges remain at rest, whereas in current electricity, the charges move in the body.