This may be a very simple question. But if I have a coil of copper wire, why don't the electrons just take the shortest path vertically through the coil instead of following the entire loop around?

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    $\begingroup$ The copper wire of which the coil is made has a coating made of an insulator. $\endgroup$
    – Farcher
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 7:15
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    $\begingroup$ If you downvote a question, please come with a reason to why, so that I can improve in the future. "Dumb question" is not a reason to downvote. $\endgroup$
    – Pedery
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 11:08
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    $\begingroup$ This is a perfectly good question that has a simple answer. I can only assume people are downvoting because the answer is obvious to them, but it's quite reasonable that someone new to electronics might not realise enamelled wire is a thing. After all, it often looks nearly identical to bare copper wire. $\endgroup$
    – Clonkex
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, and true. That was my thoughts exactly. For me, until this question was answered, a coil of copper seemed like pure copper wire without coating, and thus the whole thing appeared to be a little arcane. $\endgroup$
    – Pedery
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 1:34

1 Answer 1


The wire from which an inductor is wound is coated with an insulator so the current can only flow along the wire and not sideways between two parallel strands of wire.

If you used uninsulated copper wire then you would in effect end up with a copper cylinder, and you are correct that the current would just flow along the cylinder and not around it.


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