How can a stainless steel panel create a short-circuit on my switch?

Thread Starter

Alice24

Joined Apr 22, 2011
44
So I've installed a DPDT-switch to operate a motor, but it seems every time I put the DPDT switch on the stainless steel it stops working. I assume it creates a short-circuit on the DPDT switch's legs. But, I thought electrons would much rather flow in copper/silver/lead etc than in stainless steel (which taking into account the wires, the switch, the motor and the electricity adapter I assume that's what they're made from). Isn't that one of the guiding principles of electronics: electrons will always flow where it's easiest for them?
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,168
Nope, they’ll flow through every path available to them, like water down a hill. The amount that flows in any one path will be proportional to the inverse of the resistance of that path. Unless the resistance is infinite, some current will flow. Stainless steel is a good conductor and can move a lot of current. Copper may be better, but steel is good enough.

Post a picture of your switch and panel. It should not be shorting to the panel and something must be wrong.
 

tranzz4md

Joined Apr 10, 2015
310
If you touch live wires connected to anything, like their usual load, or even a "short circuit" will you get zapped?

OF COURSE.

Wouldn't those "electrons... much rather flow in copper/silver/lead etc than in stainless steel" or a piece of meat, like your body?

How about water? NO, DON'T TRY IT!

Electricity "flows" in all available paths, proportional to their conductivity.

All that said, your switch is probably not affected by the trim plate, unless it is defective or broken, and you'd get zapped, and there would be evidence of heat, unless the available current were only microamps.
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,703
electrons will always flow where it's easiest for them?
Therein lies the misconception... have you paid attention to Ohm's law? Electrons will flow everywhere they can. Consider two resistors in parallel: more electrons will always flow through the resistor with the lowest value, but the one with the highest one will conduct its share of electricity nevertheless...
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
29,800
Much mischief in the understanding of electricity flow has been generated by the old saw "Electricity takes the path of least resistance".
Electricity takes all restive paths, including the one of least resistance.
The only time that's not true is if one of the paths is a superconductor. ;)
 

profbuxton

Joined Feb 21, 2014
419
Interesting thought, crutschow, .
A normal(ie copper) conductor and a super conductor in parallel! Would ANY current flow in the copper?
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,398
Interesting thought, crutschow, .
A normal(ie copper) conductor and a super conductor in parallel! Would ANY current flow in the copper?
Nope. There won't be any voltage across the superconductor, so no current will flow in the normal conductor.
 

Thread Starter

Alice24

Joined Apr 22, 2011
44
Thank you all for your replies. I'd spare you the picture since the switch actually works and I'd rather not touch not to screw it up again, I was just curious. But, it makes sense now, especially taking into consideration stainless steel is a good conductor and it probably creates leg connections that shouldn't be there.
 
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