Volts, watts, and amps are all ways of measuring electricity, but they tell us different things about it. It’s almost summer time, so let’s imagine you’re on vacation with the kids, hanging out at the water park, standing at the top of a big slide.

What are amps?

How much water is flowing down the slide every second? An ampere (shortened to amps) measures charge—how many electrons (or in our example, water molecules) flow past a certain point per second. It is equal to one coulomb of charge per second, or 6.24 x 10^18 electrons per second.

What are volts?

How about what makes the current flow? On the water slide, a battery would power a pump that makes the water flow, creating pressure in the pipe—the pressure in the pipe (or in electricity’s case, the wire) is the voltage of the current. 

Voltage is what causes charges to move in a wire or other conductor. It is what makes electrical charges move. One volt is defined as the “difference in electric potential between two points of a conducting wire when an electric current of one ampere dissipates one watt of power between those points.” The volt is named after the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta.

What is wattage?

How fast is the water flowing down the slide? Cowabunga-fast or lazy-river-fast? Wattage is the miles-per-hour of the electricity world. Electrical power, or the wattage of an electrical system, is always equal to the voltage multiplied by the current. It measures how much energy is released per second in a system.

We hope you enjoyed this quick lesson in the differences between amps, volts, and watts. Have questions about an upcoming electrical project? We can help! Contact HOLT today and let’s get to work.

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