Difference Between Electricity and Magnetism

Electricity and Magnetism are regarded as the two interrelated terminologies giving rise to the study of electromagnetism. The major factor of difference between electricity and magnetism is that electricity is the outcome of the presence and motion of charges thus associated with static or moving charges. On the contrary, magnetism is specifically associated with the charges in motion.

Due to this reason, it is said that current electricity gives rise to a magnetic field. While a changing magnetic field gives rise to electricity.

The terms electricity and magnetism came into existence some thousands of years ago. And for a long time, these two terms were considered two separate and unrelated phenomena. But in 1820 a live experiment unknowingly proved that these two phenomena are intimately related to each other. This was performed by Danish Physicist Hans Christian Oersted.

In his experiment, he noticed that when current flows in wire then there was deflection in the needle of a magnetic compass placed near to it. Also, with the increase in the current, the deflection of the needle also increases. Thus, he concluded that the movement of charges or current generates a magnetic field in the nearby region. Further, in 1864, James Maxwell formulated the laws obeyed by electricity and magnetism.

Here we will discuss how the two are related and on what basis the two are differentiated.

Content: Electricity Vs Magnetism

  1. Comparison Chart
  2. Definition
  3. Key Differences
  4. Conclusion

Comparison Chart

Basis for ComparisonElectricityMagnetism
BasicThe flow of charged particles results in electricity.The interaction between moving charges results in attractive or repulsive force which is called magnetism.
By cause of Both static and moving charges.Specifically, due to moving charges.
MonopolesExistNot Exist
FeatureIt is an invisible force in nature.It is regarded as by product of electricity.
Associated withPositive and negative charges.North and south poles.
Type of poleMonopoleDipole
Used inLighting, heating, transportation, etc.Compass needle, doors of refrigerators, MRI machines, etc.

Definition of Electricity

Electricity is defined as the flow of electrical charges. However, electricity can be static or dynamic in nature. The positively and negatively charged particles act as the source of electricity. It is generally known as physical property associated with charged particles. It is referred as a physical phenomenon which is a result of the existence and motion of electric charges.

In static electricity, the charges are accumulated on the surface of the materials. Here the charges are in the immobile state but electricity is generated when two static objects are rubbed. This leads to transferring of charges hence results in electricity. While the electricity which is specifically produced due to the movement of free electrons inside the conductor or semiconductors is known as current electricity.

The materials that possess insulating behaviour generally results in static electricity. While conducting materials hold the ability to allow the movement of free electrons thus results in current electricity or electric current.

Definition of Magnetism

Magnetism is regarded as a physical phenomenon which is a result of interaction between moving charges. Unlike electricity, magnetism specifically needs the motion of charged particles. Due to magnetism, the poles attract or repel each other.

A major property of magnetism states the same poles will experience repulsive force. While in the poles of opposite polarity, there exist attraction. It is known to be an outcome of current electricity. This is so because current electricity is generated due to the movement of electrons and magnetism is the result of interaction between those moving electrons.

This resultantly causes attractive and repulsive forces to exist between objects. When electricity due to the motion of electrons is generated then their interaction gives rise to a force (either attractive or repulsive) which exists up to a certain distance. This specific region up to which magnetism is felt is known as the magnetic field.

Key Differences Between Electricity and Magnetism

  1. Electricity and magnetism are known to be two different sides of a coin. Electricity is due to the presence and movement of charge carriers. While magnetism is the result of the interaction between moving charges.
  2. Electricity is known to be an invisible force, while magnetism is regarded as an outcome of current electricity.
  3. Electricity is known to be the result of the movement of charge carriers in conductors. But in the non-conducting materials electricity is due to the presence of static charges. On the contrary, moving electric charge is necessary for magnetism as static charges never cause magnetism.
  4. In the case of electricity, electric monopoles exist in the form of positive and negative charges. However, for magnetism, magnetic monopoles are not present, as here charges are present in opposite pairs. Thus, it is said that in electricity, monopoles exist while in magnetism dipoles exist as north and south poles.
  5. Electricity can be there even without the existence of magnetism. But magnetism never exists without the presence of current electricity.
  6. Electricity has numerous uses such as in lighting, heating and cooling purposes, in electronic devices and machines, in satellites along with transportation systems. As against, magnetism is used for the purpose of data storage, in the field of health and medicines these are used in magnetic resonance imaging machines, in magnetic doors of refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines, etc.


Thus, the above discussion between electricity and magnetism concludes that the two are very closely related phenomena and are associated with electromotive force. If electric current results in a magnetic field then a changing magnetic field also gives rise to current electricity.

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