Talk:Insulator (electricity)

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Pretty sure of last sentence, but there may be strange quantum effects that allow it?

A perfect insulator is indeed impossible, but not because of the second law. The second law says that the entropy of the universe must either increase or stay the same. The reason a perfect insulator is impossible is in fact a "strange quantum effect". If there is an electron on one side of an insulator, its wavefunction must extend to the other side, because the wavefunction is analytic. If there is a lower potential on the other side, the electron will eventually tunnel through and conduct electricity.As Most teachers and professers say this is a major fortunete event
I'd fix it myself, but my recent exchange on Talk:Quantum mechanics has made me meek. I'll wait for someone else to change it. -- Tim Starling 06:59 Nov 11, 2002 (UTC)

Moved here temporarily :) :) Yay lol

Insulated tools[edit]

This page only seems to talk about insulating electrical wire and cable. As a user not a contributor, I'm looking for information on what constitutes good insulation for tools to be used in electrical work. A rubber, wooden or plastic handle on a screwdriver, for example? Anyone able to add a brief section on this?

Collectible insulators[edit]

Glass insulators were, and in some places are still used to mount electrical power and signalling lines used for telephone, telegraph, fire, and other electrical applications. Colors and design details varied widely because many of the insulators were made by small, local manufacturers. Green or aqua insulators are the most common due to the iron content of the sand used in making glass, but the most popular colors among collectors come in various shades of purple and amber. Insulators made of clear glass typically indicate a more recent manufacturing date. Most insulator manufacturers stopped making glass insulators in the late 1960's, switching to ceramic materials. Collectors classify insulators according to CD numbers (Consolidated design number system developed by N.R. Woodward) with the shape, size, wire groove location and inner skirt all taken into account. Collecting insulators became a widespread hobby starting in the late 1960s. Since then, many people have joined the hobby, and there are many places to ask questions, trade or just talk to collectors. The National Insulator Association is a non-profit educational and scientific organization, created to encourage insulator collecting and to protect the interests of its members and collectors.

Shouldn't this be on a page about collecting or something. I mean you can collect anything but we're not going to mention collections on every page of WP dealing with physical objects are we?? Light current 18:20, 31 August 2005 (UTC)


I propose that this article be split up - we have thermal insulator, electrical insulator (with extra info about glass / ceramic insulating devices) and acoustic insulator (nothing on this yet). I think each of these deserves its own 20:37, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

I've slightly cleaned up the section refering to double insulation, and concur with the suggestion for splitting this article, the topics are sufficiently different they should be seperated. Astaroth5 20:39, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Need References[edit]

"The modern day low-voltage insulator was devolped(sic) by Canadian scientist Kyle Waters after getting the idea from his wife Barrett Nicpon." Given the vast range of materials and types of insulation in use and their continual development right from the earliest days of electricity, there's no way I'm gonna accept that statement without reliable references. Astaroth5 16:13, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

The statement is indeed untrue. Kyle Waters is a high school student from Strathroy, Ontario, and Barrett Nipcon is his friend. He's a known vandal and has posted that he is the inventor of low-voltage insulators on another Wikipedia page. When I fact checked this I found his website. [[1]] Yankees76 16:51, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the debate was move. —Nightstallion (?) 20:56, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

InsulatorElectrical insulation – {This move is tied to the moving of the article currently at insulation. The article about electrical insulation is currently at insulator, while thermal insulation is at insulation. This is ambiguous, as electrical and thermal insulation can both be referred to as insulation or insulator. I suggest that they be moved to electrical insulation and thermal insulation. Insulation would be turned into a disambiguation page, while insulator would either redirect to the insulation disambiguation page or be made into a separate disambiguation page. -- Kjkolb 16:19, 14 February 2006 (UTC)} copied from the entry on the WP:RM page

I suggest that the discussion take place on this page for both moves.

Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one-sentence explanation, then sign your vote with ~~~~


  • Support Agree situation is confusing and proposal would clear it up. Astaroth5 16:30, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Ambivalent. While I support the general goal of sorting out electrical and thermal insulators/insulation, I also note that when I hear the term (electrical) insulator I think of something completely different than when I hear the term (electrical) insulation. The first provokes either thoughts of the physical characteristic (that possessed by dielectrics) or else images of the things that dangle from pylons while the second provokes images of the plastic stuff surrounding wires. I think we can come up with slightly better names for the resulting articles. Atlant 17:00, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


Kyle Waters is the inventor. Check the big book of Low Voltage insulators for proof.The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .

No, Kyle Waters is a 17-year old kid from Strathroy, Ontario, who collects insulators (specializing in Canadian 102s). Information on this guy and his friend Barrett Nicpon and pictures of the two of them are very easy to find using Google. Yankees76 20:03, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Yah, thanks there Yankees76 for the info, but seriuosly, your creeping me out. I didn't do this stuff, and I dont know who did, but looking around the internet, and giving out info on me I think has gone a little far bud. I dont know how old you are, but in 17, and still, I know my rights, and I think you have overstepped your bounds on this a bit. QUIT giving out info on me. I found this page when I was looking around on google, and was not impressed. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .

Any info I've disclosed is readily available via a search engine - which would have been used to fact-check your "claims". If you don't want people looking for you on the internet, stop vandalizing articles on Wikipedia using your real name(s). Admins, see the blocked user Repartee for any further information on this vandal/issue. Thanks. Yankees76 21:08, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

Insulation v insulators[edit]

I hesitate to ask, but should these two subjects have separate pages?--Light current 03:36, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Insulation v insulators revisited[edit]

I agree that "insulation" and "insulators" are different topics. Yes, people do collect a number of different types of insulators, generally those used for telegraph, telephone, and electric power. Generally these are "pintype insulators" made of glass or porcelain, but the very newest are made of plastics. I did note your mention of - I am the webmaster for that site, and very knowledgeable about "collecting glass and porcelain insulators"

Bill "Hemingray" Meier 15:25, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Yeah . My point was to differentiate insulation from insulators in the technical sense. Collecting should be on a different page. Im not sure which one yet!--Light current 00:23, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

perfect insulator??[edit]

The bit about teflon being a perfect insulator is noncense. There is no such a thing as a perfect insulator, everything has a resistance, some higher some lower, but there is nothing that is "perfect" meaning infinite resistance. 17:26, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

Read the sentence again. It says, "Teflon is another almost perfect insulator" -SCEhardT 17:41, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

And I say again, I don't care if it's almost - there is no such a thing as a perfect insulator, so you also can't have an almost perfect insulator. And it doesn't matter how you define "almost", 99% less then infinity is still infinity! 05:16, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

What about a vacuum (below the ionising field strength of the electrodes)?--Light current 05:50, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Nope, vacuum isn't a perfect insulator, theoretically because of quantum tunnelling effects, practically becuase the occaisonal random ionising radiation event will knock electrons free from one electrode and once free they'll travel across the vacuum. Astaroth5 06:38, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
It's good enough for most things though! - and the best you can get (unless someone know better)--Light current 12:24, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Actually I'm pretty sure that teflon is a better insulator then a vacuum. In a vacuum once an electron manages to leap off of the surface it flows uninterupted. This is not the case with a regular insulator. 05:41, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
In that case why are vacuum switchgear and vacuum HV capacitors used. Ive never heard of Teflon switchgear!--Light current 13:44, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Teflon (PTFE) *IS* used as a dielectric in high voltage capacitors [2] , It's not used in switchgear because in a high voltage switch, the insulating material has to be able to interupt the arc which is drawn when the contacts part. Useing telfon in this way would involve moving a lump of telfon into the arc, it would almost certainly work the first few times, but contact with the arc would char the telfon, and it would rapidly stop being an effective insulator. There are other reasons why it's not used but this is the most obvious one that comes to mind. Astaroth5 14:12, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes the point Im making is that vacuum is highly superior to any substance.--Light current 14:18, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Except that it's not. Did you read what he said? Teflon is a better insulator, except it melts. Vacuum doesn't melt, which is a pretty big advantage. Remember: we are talking about a supposedly "perfect insulator", and there is no such a thing. 15:25, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
So Teflon is better than vacuum at low voltages?? THats a new one on me! Arent there any quantum tunnelling effects here also?--Light current 16:55, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually yes, teflon is better. Here's why - once an electron is free from the surface it can travel any distance in a vacuum with no loss of energy. This is not true of teflon, the thicker the teflon the more material for the electron to bump into. (Basically vacuum can't be measured as a normal resistor, i.e. resitance per distance. All it's "resistance" is based on the surface facing the vacuum, not the vacuum itself.) 05:36, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
I think youll find that surface effects dominate making any solid MUCH poorer than vacuum. 8-|--Light current 17:07, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Class 1 vs Class 2 Confusion[edit]

"Class I and Class 2"? What's the correct nomenclature--Roman or Arabic numerals?

From the topic, it sounds like those are the two types, and they'll be discussed in that order. The section begins by talking about class one as having an earthed case, but then before going into class two, there is a paragraph talking about recognizing the absense of a third pin on the plug. Should that paragraph be moved to after the current (sorry:) third paragraph, which introduces class two? DMacks 16:24, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Definining "insulator" based on Ohm's law[edit]

The present definition, "material or object that prevents the flow of electrical charges," predicts that vacuum would be a perfect conductor, since vaccuum has no ability to prevent a flow of charge. Similarly, air and liquids (e.g. oil) should be conductive, since they don't halt the motion of charges. Yet these are all insulators. A better definition involves Ohm's law: an insulator is a material where no charges begin flowing when a voltage is applied across it. Or more simply: an insulator is a material which lacks movable charges. Under this revised definition, vacuum, air, oil, etc. are insulators because there are no charges in the vacuum which can begin flowing. --Wjbeaty 14:56, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

It is proved by experiment that every material can conduct some electricity. i.e. a current flows thru the material no matter how small it is. In this case I see more fit to define an 'Insulator' by a minimum resistance. There must be some standard for the resistance threshold, but I haven't come across it yet.
--Ai.unit (talk) 05:13, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Info needed on shapes[edit]

This article needs information about the shapes of high-voltage electrical insulators. In particular, it would be edifying to know the function of the "skirt" and how insulators continue to insulate when drenched with water (e.g., in a hurricane). I'm sure there's some interesting physics involved. -- Jedwards05 22:23, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

You raise a good point. The basic principle, of course, is to lengthen the surface from the high-voltage terminal to the earthed support point. The insulator itself has lots of ability to block the bulk flow of electricity through the body of the insulator but as you observed, water, salt, soot from the air, and other pollutants can rapidly turn the surface of the insulator into a semiconductor and corona and flashovers can readily occur. A good insulator has:
  • A long surface path
  • A path that won't be simultaneously wetted on a continuous path
  • Often, a surface that can't be wetted at all (perhaps a silicone)
  • A surface that readily sheds dirt and salt when rained upon
The old-style "skirt" insulator achieved some of these goals by placing the ribs in the insulator (that lengthen the surface path) facing down, where they can't easily accumulate salt, soot, and dirt. Modern insulators tend to emphasize "weathersheds" with non-wetting and successful washing properties.
Feel free, of course, to be bold and edit the article!
Atlant 00:32, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Atlant puts it very well. I couldnt put it better myself (without a great deal of thought and research!) 8-)--Light current 02:04, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Light current, thank you for those kind words.
Atlant 13:46, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Just remebered the term 'dry banding' where flash overs on the sheds vaporise any contaminants/liquid etc and restore the insulating path.--Light current 14:00, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Added a section on 'Shape' of insulators. --ChetvornoTALK 11:23, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Salt fog testing[edit]

Can I mention this? 9-)--Light current 02:17, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

You don't need our permission ;-). And you get the same advice I give (almost) everyone: be bold!
Atlant 13:44, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Well Ive heard about it and we used to do it on new insulators designs where I worked, but I dont know enough details really to write about it. Thats why I thought I would suggest it in case someone else had the detailed knowledge 8-) --Light current 15:05, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Glass suspension insulators still made?[edit]

I'm pretty sure I've seen pictures in the trade mags of toughened glass suspension insulators. All the catalogs I have access to for pin insulators list only porcelain, though. Once I get a reference I'll be back. --Wtshymanski 16:06, 19 August 2006 (UTC)


They most definately are! Sediver is a major supplier of toughened glass suspension insulators. [Sediver insulators] -- Bill Meier 16:29, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

What is this article about?[edit]

I've changed the topic sentence to match the article name. But lumping in "insualtors" under "electrical insulation" is like putting nuts and bolts into the "steel" article. We should distinguish the general properties of insulating materials from the particular artifacts made of electrically insulating material. ( and a section titled "Explanation" is always a sign of a weak article) --Wtshymanski 22:06, 22 March 2007 (UTC) I agree with the above. This page is a bit incoherent as it mixes theoretical and practical subjects. There is much good information, but it needs content on insulation for rotating machines. In particular it overlooks partial discharge-resistant materials for high voltage applications. Cellomerl (talk) 01:48, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Recent edit[edit]

Was to change from "The shape of such insulating bushings usually includes deep grooves which provide a longer arc-length and serve to reduce the probability of water forming a conductive path from end-to-end." Because

  • I removed bushing because these are only one type of insulator.
  • I removed "probability of water forming a conductive path from end-to-end" because this is not the reason for sheds. These are used to increase the creepage path

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Good job. Thanks. Jerry 00:49, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

"Creepage path" is a more accurate term than "arc-length". Cellomerl (talk) 01:50, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Request for photograph[edit]

I disagree that a photograph of a glass pin-type would improve the article. Glass pin-types are obsolete technology. If a photo of a pin-type, or other insulators, this should be one made with a material still in production, like porcelain.

Electrical insulation vs Collecting Insulators[edit]

I believe the subject of collecting insulators has nothing to do with Electrical insulation and should be moved into another category. Bill Meier 15:56, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. I'm not even sure it's notable enough for its own article. Oli Filth 17:54, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

National Insulator Association[edit]

I made a change to give this external link a better description. It can be seen the country of relevance of other links is given, and therefore it is quite correct this one should be given. The NIA is "national" for the US only and not other countries, and therefore the description I gave is more accurate and more helpful. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:01, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

NIA is the name of the organization, not a description. Therefore, you've replaced a name by a questionable description. — Arthur Rubin | (talk) 16:24, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
National is only relevant to one country, therefore the description I gave is not only more accurate but is more helpful to all readers —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:25, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Note that the National Insulator Association IS for other countries too... Quoting from [[3]]

The National Insulator Association (NIA) is an international organization of collectors and friends interested in communication and electrical insulators, as well as other artifacts connected with insulators, such as telephone, telegraph, power transmission, railroads, and lightning protection devices.

Residents from each of the states of the United States and the provinces of Canada have been NIA members, as well as many foreign nations, including Germany, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Colombia, and The Netherlands.

Yes, the majority of it's members are from the US, it has a number of members from outside the US, as you can read from it's official page above. Thus, I have removed the "US only" portion Bill Meier (talk) 18:47, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Namespace consistency with Electrical conductor[edit]

I am wondering if this article should be renamed in similar fashion to the Conductor article, which is named Electrical conductor. If consistency is preferred between related articles, this article should be renamed Electrical insulator or that article should be renamed Conductor (electrical). Cheers, Mgmirkin (talk) 07:21, 17 May 2008 (UTC)

Come to think of it, a similar argument would then be made for other articles like Semiconductor, etc. What are the implications? Is it acceptable to change several namespaces like that, to improve namespace consistency? (So long as redirects from the original namespaces are implemented, so people can still find the articles...) Mgmirkin (talk) 07:25, 17 May 2008 (UTC)
It seems to me the adjective 'electrical' might be needed to distinguish 'electrical insulator' from thermal insulator. There is no secondary meaning for semiconductor to require a qualifying adjective. However 'electrical insulator' is the dominant meaning of 'insulator' so I'm not sure a name change is necessary; the term already redirects to this article. I don't think a qualifier needs to be added just for consistency with other articles. But that's just my opinion. --ChetvornoTALK 11:21, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Merge 'Nonconductor' here?[edit]

Nonconductor seems to overlap completely with this article. I think it should be merged into this article. Comments? --ChetvornoTALK 13:33, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

The average person wil look up "non-conductor" or "nonconductor" before they look up "insulator" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:47, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

This might be true but, every reference and link will use insulator. "Insulator" gives 4380000 google hits, while "nonconductor" gives only 61600. Besides the two words cover exactly the same topic so it should clearly not be two articles. --Thorseth (talk) 09:31, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
I have moved the last original content of Nonconductor to this article, If nobody protests I will set up the redirect--Thorseth (talk) 07:43, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

OJOIJOR —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:39, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Suspension vs cap and pin[edit]

I didn't even know Lapp made cap and pin /suspension insulators. The article is describing cap and pin, a particular type of suspension insulator. Polymer insulators are suspension insulators, but not cap and pin construction. --Wtshymanski (talk) 21:18, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Nope. 'Polymer insulator', or more commonly polymeric insulators, refers to the material whilst 'suspension insulators' refers the type or function. For example there are polymeric insulators that are not suspension insulators. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:39, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Liquid Electrical Tape[edit]

"Liquid Electrical Tape" is a widely used electrical insulator and has been around for a long time, and as such surely deserves some treatment in the article. (I came here looking for information on it as I am considering buying some.) Please would someone knowledgeable add some info ? Darkman101 (talk) 18:03, 13 February 2014 (UTC)


This page needs a history section, though I don't think I would be of much help with this, as I can't seem to find much, if any, information on the history of insulation on the internet.SQMeaner (talk) 02:57, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

I agree. There are museums out there to display the many of types of ceramic and glass insulators. Would be nice if there was a section to mention this. GMRE (talk) 15:36, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

upper or lower?[edit]

>There is a groove on the upper end of the insulator. The conductor passes through this groove and is tied to the insulator with annealed wire of the same material as the conductor.< If I am reading this correctly it should read "lower" rather than "upper", at least if the reference is to physical position rather than potential (as it appears to be). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:50, 14 November 2015 (UTC)

Oddly specific, but also useless info[edit]

The small table titled "Typical number of disc insulator units for standard line voltages" is absolutely useless, because of the way that it obviously refers to some specific insulator type used in some 1 country. What country? What specific insulator type? What value does the insulator have? Thousands of relatively similar insulators have been manufactured in different nations. Surely the article doesn't claim that they're all exactly equal in value. GMRE (talk) 15:36, 19 July 2016 (UTC)