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battery and connection to earth

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Junior Member level 2
Aug 30, 2009
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hi everyone.

well i got into an argument with my colleague regarding a basic principle of electrical conduction.

the debate was about what would happen if a negative terminal of a battery is connected to the earth (potential zero) and the positive one to a load say bulb.
the negative terminal of the bulb is connected to earth some where far.

1- now is this a complete circuit?
2- is the battery going to drain very fast because of the infinite charge on earth?

thanks for helping me to clear out this debate.

There would be some conduction through the earth. The problem is the electroplating of the electrodes connected to the earth. They could be plated with insulating or high resistance material and after a while the circuit would not work. Earth connections work best with AC signals.

One piece of history. During the 1914-1918 war in the trenches, the British were very economical. They used one wire and an earth return for their telephone communications. The very clever Germans would put ground probes and an amplifier between them and pick up the British conversations.

Some of my childhood friends would communicate a short distance between their houses by using an audio power amplifier connected to ground probes for transmitting and a small signal amplifier connected to another set of probes for receiving.

thanks flatulent for the valuable information.

given your example, the circuit will be complete, however the earth return will be of very high resistance. Your bulb will not light as your current flow will be very small, if at all

if it is battery then you have no current loop, and no current will flow.............if you use mains( careful) then you will get current flow, because the mains live is refenced to earth.

just pour nice water down the metal connection rod to get good connection and you get flow through the earth,

this is like old time German electric trains , where they used earth as the return, and deep down pipes corroded due to it.

Added after 2 minutes:

oh sorry....i did not see, you ARE completeing the current loop with earth,,,,,,yes you will get current flow , and it will be low resistance because of that massive volume, as long as you get a good connection....yuo remmeber that underneath a power station there are many 100 yard long metal rods going down and huge metal sheets to get good conduction., and they go for place with high water table to get even better conduction

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