Electricity is one of the true marvels of modern history. Its usage enables much of what makes the modern world possible and powers everything from humble light bulbs to magnificently complex computers. For those starting to venture into electricity, however, there is a fair bit of knowledge to absorb.
In particular, this comes down to the many units of measurement present for electricity. There are many different possible units of measurement, and they all have various applications. With today’s guide, let’s take a closer look at the difference between kilowatts and amperes, or amps. These units of measurement are very common in electrical applications and this can help to dispel whatever misconceptions you may have regarding their usage.
Kilowatts vs. Amps: Side-By-Side Comparison
|Measures||The rate at which power is consumed by a load||The flow of electricity|
|Common applications||Measuring the power used by a circuit||Detailing the current of a circuit|
|How is it calculated||Watts = Volts x Amps||Amps = Watts / Volts|
Kilowatts vs. Amps: What’s the Difference?
It is important to note that these two measurements go hand in hand with each other. With most units of measurement in electricity, there is some overlap, and these are no different. They are very starkly different units of measurement, however, with entirely different purposes.
What are Kilowatts and Amps?
Both the kilowatt and amp are units of measure for electricity. As with many of the other units of measurement common in electricity, their names from real-world scientists with instrumental contributions to the progress of technology.
The watt gets its name from James Watt, an 18th-century British inventor. It has very little in common with the work done by Watt himself, who is responsible for the separate condenser and parallel motion components of the steam engine. The watt became a standard unit of measurement thanks to the SI in 1960 at the 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures. Since its standardization, it has been ubiquitous in its usage for electrical applications.
Andre Marie Ampere serves as the namesake of the ampere. Ampere, the scientist not the measurement mind you, did instrumental work in discovering the existence of the electron. Its discovery was a crucial first step in understanding how to implement electricity for practical applications. Amperes were standardized as a unit of measurement by the International Electrical Congress, in 1893, with widespread international acceptance occurring in 1908. It along with the ohm are the two first widely accepted standards utilized in electrical work.
What They Measure
A kilowatt is 1,000 watts. A watt is a store of power. If you have any sort of power tool, appliance, and so on, they will be measuring the store of power as a watt or kilowatt. Kilowatts are derived from multiplying the voltage of a circuit against the amperes of a circuit to get the final product. As just a basic example, let’s say you have an oven that draws 500 volts at 2 amperes. Using the same calculation it would come out to 1,000 watts or 1 kilowatt.
Amperes, or amps, describe the flow of current through a circuit. Higher amp values equate to higher current, as one might expect. Calculating a circuit’s amps is the reverse of getting its wattage. To obtain the amps of a circuit you’ll divide the watts by the volts. Using the same example from earlier, the same oven would be 1,000 watts divided by 500 volts, equaling 2 amps.
These measurements cooperate a fair bit, as you cannot calculate the kilowatts of a particular circuit without first determining the amps it is using.
A Basic Overview of the Units of Measurement for Electricity
The average person isn’t familiar with the various measurements used in electrical contexts. So, let’s take a moment to consider the various units of measurement used in electricity.
When looking at any unit of measurement for electrical work, you can consider the actual flow of electricity to be akin to the flow of water through a pipe. From water flowing through a pipe, there are several things you can measure. This is likewise applicable to the flow of electricity through a circuit. Measuring the actual flow of the electricity, in this case, is done by amperes or amps.
Continuing with the water metaphor, the exertion of pressure on the pipe would be the voltage or volts. Voltage measures how much current will flow through the device itself, with higher voltage equaling more current to other parts of the circuit.
The rate at which power is consumed is measured with watts, as previously discussed. The final measurement to consider is the load, which is the actual supplier of current to the circuit itself. Think of the power outlet in any given room in your house, and that is just one of many different types of loads present.
Identifying the Kilowatts and Amps of Your Home Appliances
If you’re curious about the exact measurements provided by the manufacturer for your appliance, it can be relatively simple to find. Some appliances like washers, dryers, and ovens will have an information label attached somewhere physically on the appliance itself. Once found you can find the applicable information for that particular appliance.
You can also find these information labels on numerous other electrical devices in your home, like a laptop’s charging cable for example. If the information label is not readily available, most manufactured devices have the means for you to check these for yourself online. For most common use, this isn’t important. It does make for some room to learn more about the devices in your home and how they directly relate to an electrical device in the home.
Kilowatts vs. Amps: 5 Must-Know Facts
- Both the kilowatt and amp are units of measure for electricity.
- Watts = Volts x Amps, while Amps = Watts / Volts.
- A kilowatt measures the rate at which power is consumed by a load and an amp measures the flow of electricity through a circuit.
- The watt gets its name from James Watt, an 18th-century British inventor.
- Andre Marie Ampere serves as the namesake of the ampere, or amp.
Kilowatts vs. Amps: Which One is Better? Which One Should You Choose?
As with any unit of measurement, it isn’t so much a matter of which one is the better one to use. If you work with anything electric, you’ll undoubtedly be using both of these units of measurement regularly. You regularly encounter these daily just by using the various devices and appliances in your home.
Every single electrical device is going to use watts, amps, volts, ohms, and every other measurement you can think of. So instead of thinking of what might be the best to use, especially given their disparate use cases, think of which one applies given the context of a given device.
So, you should choose what works the best for a given need, rather than which one is empirically better. After all, you can calculate amps off of kilowatts, just like you can do the same for kilowatts from amps.
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