6. What Is Power? (Easy, Simple Definition Power/Watts)

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Before you can understand what is power, please make sure you read my very short, easy-to-read article: What Is an Electrical Circuit?

Then, come back to EASILY understand the bare bone basics about power and watts.

Power & Watts: Simple Definition

To understand what power is, you must understand what voltage is (measured in volts) and what an electrical current is (measured in amps).

Voltage: Volts

Electricity is caused by the movement of electrons in an electrical circuit.

But the electrons need something to push them along the circuit. This electrical push/pressure is called voltage.

In a circuit, in order to move an electron from one point (negative) of the power source to the other point (positive), you need voltage.

The greater the voltage, the greater the flow of electrons through an electrical conductor.

So, in other words, voltage just measures how strongly electricity is being pushed through a circuit.

Voltage is measured in Volts (V).

Many circuits are designed to only accept a certain number of volts.

Electrical Current: Amps or (I)

The electrical current is the unit of how many electrons move past a given point per second through a conductor.

This current is measured in Amps (A) or (I).

Power

Power is measured in Watts.

All Watts are is a combination of volts and amps. By combining these two, you can tell how much current is flowing and how hard it’s flowing.

Power Formula:

Multiply volts and amps, and you get watts.

P (WATTS) = A (AMPS) x V (VOLTS)

Watts and kilowatts (kilo = 1000) express how much energy is consumed per chunk of time (which is what we call power).

Watt Rating: The Water Hose Analogy

Let’s use the popular water hose analogy to easily understand watt.

Let’s imagine that we have 2 garden hoses. One hose has high pressure but it’s a very small hose. The second hose is low pressure but it’s a very big hose.

Let’s say that, even those 2 hoses are different, they fill a bucket in the same amount of time.

Now, imagine those garden hoses are wires.

One wire has high pressure (high voltage) but is a small wire (carries a low electrical current). And the other wire is a big wire (carries a high electrical current) but it has low pressure (low voltage). If, in the end, you have the same amount of power that can go through these two wires, then you can say that both wires have the same amount of watt rating.

Overview: Watts

Watts won’t tell you the compatibility between an appliance and a battery, and it won’t tell you what wires to connect between the two or what fuse size to use.

But the wattage gives you a good idea of how much power something is using (like a fridge, lamp, TV, etc) or how much power something is generating (like a solar panel or wind turbine).

Next Up…

  1. What Is an Electrical Circuit?
  2. What Is an Electrical Current/Amps?
  3. What Is Voltage/Volts?
  4. What Is an Electrical Resistance?
  5. What’s the Difference Between AC and DC?
  6. What Is Power/Watts?
  7. What Is Watt-Hour & Amp-Hour?
  8. More Off-Grid Power Posts for Beginners…