Amps, watts, and volts are the basic units of measurement used in electrical calculations. You need to know how to convert between these units effectively.
In this article, we’ll be taking you through what exactly these units measure.
We’ll also explain how you can perform basic calculations using these units in simple, understandable terms.
Amps, Watts, & Volts Explained
What Are Watts?
Watts are the most widely used unit of electricity. Watts measures power. This refers to the power it takes to do something.
For example, you might require 500 watts of power to run your vacuum cleaner for 15 minutes.
What Are Amps?
“Amp” is short for ampere. This is the unit used to measure electric current. Specifically, it measures the rate at which the current flows through a given electric circuit.
In terms of usage for your home or RV, smaller appliances need to be connected to circuits using a lower amperage, such as 15 or 20 amps. Larger appliances like washing machines and refrigerators are generally connected to circuits providing 30 amps.
These circuits don’t provide any more current than they’re meant to. This avoids overheating the wiring which can cause the appliances to deteriorate faster than they should. In a solar setting, the ampere value will be provided by your inverter.
It’s useful to know the capacity of your inverter in relation to how much power your appliances require.
What Are Volts?
Volts are a measure of electrical potential energy. They measure the “pressure” at which electricity is able to flow through an electrical system.
Electricity is typically delivered to buildings at two “pressures”: 12 V and 240 V. In a solar setting, your inverter delivers this electricity in place of the plugs in your home.
The voltage your inverter delivers is up to you. When you purchase your inverter, you’ll see that there are a few options available to you. The best way forward is to assess the voltage your main appliances require, and choose your inverter in line with those values.
How Do These Units Help Me?
Now that you know what each of these values really mean, you’re probably wondering how you should be using them.
If you’ve got a solar power system set up, one of the most important things to remember is that you should never deplete your inverter completely.
If you’re on the lookout for a decent setup, take a look at these small solar power system options.
It contains a battery to store power, and batteries degrade each time you deplete them. This means that every time you deplete your inverter, you’re taking it a little closer to its deathbed.
To avoid this, we need to know what we can plug into it, and how long we can run it for. For example, if you opt for a tiny inverter, it won’t be able to handle something like a hairdryer being plugged into it.
This appliance needs to produce a large amount of heat, which requires a large input of energy. A small inverter would likely be depleted in this process.
So what happens when an appliance tells you how many watts it uses, but you need to know how many volts it uses? Or it tells you how many amps it uses, but you need to know how many watts it uses?
You do some simple math. Don’t stress, you don’t need to go back to school: we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ve put together the formulas you’ll need in these scenarios.
Amps to Watts
The formula for this conversion is as follows:
Amps = Watts / Volts.
To illustrate how to use this formula, we’ll use common wattage and voltage figures. We’ll use 5,000 W and 120 V.
Let’s plug these values into the formula.
Amps = 5,000 / 120
= 41.67 A
Super easy! Now you know how to convert amperes into watts, but it doesn’t stop there.
We can also help you convert amp hours into amps if that’s what you need. It’s a little more complicated, but we break down the steps for you.
Watts to Volts
Voltage is important to understand because it’s related to safety. If you overload your inverter, you could end up with a fire.
Not to worry though, because the calculation is super simple. Here it is:
Volts = Watts / Amps.
Essentially, we’re using the same formula as above. We’re simply switching the variables around to give us the answer we’re looking for. For that reason, we’ll make use of the same figures.
Volts = 5,000 / 41.67
= 120 V
There you have it! Your volt-to-watt-to-amp calculator.
We hope that’s cleared up the basics for you. It might seem a little abstract, but being able to whip out these equations in a pinch is a useful skill for any solar panel-owner.
It doesn’t stop there though. There are plenty more equations you can arm yourself with that are bound to come in handy. Check out our article on converting amp hours to watt-hours using the same laws of electricity we’ve used here.
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