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Old 07-18-2006, 11:05 AM   #1
-=C=-
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Default OT electrical gurus - school me on electricity

So what's the difference between amps/watts/volts?

I'm not completely stupid on the subject, but I definitely don't know much...

I do recall someone saying something like "it's not the voltage, it's the amperage that'll kill you!" but I'm not sure if I even have that right.

Just looking to get my learn on...and Google is too slow.
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:08 AM   #2
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P (watts) = I (amps) * V (vlots)

V = I * R (ohms)
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:11 AM   #3
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Search Ohms Law

I forget off the top of my head, but one is the 'speed' of the electricity, one is the 'amount' and I don't know the third one....
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:14 AM   #4
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I'm no expert, all I remember from ece class is amps (current) is how much electricity is flowing. And voltage (volts) is the potential difference. So even when the circuit is open, there's still voltage, but no current.
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:18 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -=C=-
So what's the difference between amps/watts/volts?

I'm not completely stupid on the subject, but I definitely don't know much...

I do recall someone saying something like "it's not the voltage, it's the amperage that'll kill you!" but I'm not sure if I even have that right.

Just looking to get my learn on...and Google is too slow.
Well for starters Watts = volts*amps. As for the basics of electricity its very hard to explain but i'll give it a shot.

Volts and amps are directly related. Each can be converted to the other. A good anology is HP and torque where Volts =HP and Amps = torque. And you are correct a very small amount of amps(less than one), provided it passes through the heart can kill you.

The amps going though the line can be considered the umph that the electricity has, that is why when you are welding you normally use anywhere from 120-200 amps. The number of amps going though a wire also designates the required wire size.

Voltage is a bit harder to explain I think somebody else will have to fill in that part
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StiDreams
P (watts) = I (amps) * V (vlots)

V = I * R (ohms)
KC likes Vlots!
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:26 AM   #7
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if you use the water analogy, current (amps) is the "water" flowing through a system and voltage is the "pressure". resistance can be thought of as pipes - higher resistance is a skinnier pipe.

current is the flow of electrons, and voltage is the potential difference.
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:30 AM   #8
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Simplest explanation is think of it as ball bearings going through a pipe, maybe pushed by water. The bearings represent electrons, the more electrons you get to the other side, the more power you have.

Voltage is the amount force taht pushes the bearings through the pipe.

Amperage is the number of bearings in the pipes, that pass through.

You can have alot of water pushing the bearings though the pipe, but if you only have 2 bearings you're not gonna transfer alot of bearings, but at higher rate of speed you are getting the bearings there faster.

You can have 200 bearings and not alot of force behind them and still have alot of power, you have 200 bearings coming through slowly.

The total out put between the water and the bearings is the watts.

20 bearings x 1 volt = 20 watts

while

1 bearing x 20 volts = 20 watts
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:37 AM   #9
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When Current goes up, Voltage goes down.
and vise-versa.

Last edited by greenguy; 07-18-2006 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:40 AM   #10
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amps = electrical current, watts = electrical power, volts = electrical voltage.
The comment on that "it's the current that kills you and not the voltage" is a little miss leading. Like everyone pointed out, the equation governing everything are Volt=current*resistance, watt=volt*current. So, don't be fooled by only current can kill you, if you touch a 50KV transmission/distribution power line, you are gonna fry, and that's considered low voltage in the power industry.
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rage557
Volts and amps are directly related. Each can be converted to the other. A good anology is HP and torque where Volts =HP and Amps = torque. And you are correct a very small amount of amps(less than one), provided it passes through the heart can kill you.

The amps going though the line can be considered the umph that the electricity has, that is why when you are welding you normally use anywhere from 120-200 amps. The number of amps going though a wire also designates the required wire size.

Voltage is a bit harder to explain I think somebody else will have to fill in that part

I wouldn't think comparing Volts = HP and Amps = torque is a good idea. Horsepower and Watts are both units of power. Volts is a unit of potential energy. Amps is used to describe the current flow of electrons/electricity.
Current is measured from a higher potential energy to lower potential energy. But what's actually happening is the electrons are moving from the place with lower potential energy (more negative side side of the circuit) to the positive side.
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:55 AM   #12
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when working on electrical wiring it's always a good idea to keep one hand behind your back so inadvertantly do not create a short with your body and close the circuit.

It's not the volts that kill you, but the amps. The body can withstand X amount of Volts but can only withstand Y amount of miliamps.

Basically your body can withstand a lot of volts at a low amperage but as you can see by this table the amout of amperge it takes to do damage isn't that high.

http://www.cdc.gov/elcosh/docs/d0500.../section2.html
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveB
It's not the volts that kill you, but the amps. The body can withstand X amount of Volts but can only withstand Y amount of miliamps.

Basically your body can withstand a lot of volts at a low amperage but as you can see by this table the amout of amperge it takes to do damage isn't that high.
Static electricity is a good example of this. There is usually a very high voltage (difference in potential engergy) but the shock you receive is very low current (very few electrons jumping).
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KC
KC likes Vlots!
Do you think Vlotaire would be offended?
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:05 PM   #15
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You want to have some REAL fun??

Lets talk about "VARS" for a minute...
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobturismo
Simplest explanation is think of it as ball bearings going through a pipe, maybe pushed by water. The bearings represent electrons, the more electrons you get to the other side, the more power you have.

Voltage is the amount force taht pushes the bearings through the pipe.

Amperage is the number of bearings in the pipes, that pass through.

You can have alot of water pushing the bearings though the pipe, but if you only have 2 bearings you're not gonna transfer alot of bearings, but at higher rate of speed you are getting the bearings there faster.

You can have 200 bearings and not alot of force behind them and still have alot of power, you have 200 bearings coming through slowly.

The total out put between the water and the bearings is the watts.

20 bearings x 1 volt = 20 watts

while

1 bearing x 20 volts = 20 watts
Probably the best analogy to go by for the laymen.
<---RATyson is an electrical engineer
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WRXGuyInVegas
You want to have some REAL fun??

Lets talk about "VARS" for a minute...
All the electrical "Guru's" back away slowly...
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:30 PM   #18
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Eh... VArs are just a phase... nyuk nyuk..




ok.. yeah, that was uber geeky
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Old 07-18-2006, 01:45 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cRayZee
I wouldn't think comparing Volts = HP and Amps = torque is a good idea. Horsepower and Watts are both units of power. Volts is a unit of potential energy. Amps is used to describe the current flow of electrons/electricity.
I always used electricity to help me understand Torque and Horsepower.

Power is power (duh), Amps is like RPM, and voltage is like torque.

Horsepower is RPM*torque (and factors to make the units work out)
Power (watts) = volts * amps

So, a Honda is like a 5v power supply that is rated at 900 amperes - 4500 watts of power.

A truck engine is like a 500 volt power supply that is rated at 8 amperes.

A transmission would be like a transformer, but transmissions are more lossy and have physical constraints - that's why you can't put a Honda engine in a truck and use gearing to get the torque to be higher. The transmission would be too large and create too much loss.

This article is about transistors, but he's got some good introductory material about circuits, about half-way down or so.

Warning - lots of words here!
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Old 07-18-2006, 02:09 PM   #20
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I find this pdf helpful... I'm an EE and I forget the basics all the time

http://www.ddpp.com/DDPP3_pdf/elecCkts.pdf

It's an article suited for people who need a refresher on the basics. Hopefully, it'll still help.
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Old 07-18-2006, 02:17 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FD777
I find this pdf helpful... I'm an EE and I forget the basics all the time

http://www.ddpp.com/DDPP3_pdf/elecCkts.pdf

It's an article suited for people who need a refresher on the basics. Hopefully, it'll still help.
I thought that looked familiar, it's an excerpt from the Digital design class.
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Old 07-18-2006, 02:41 PM   #22
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Think of Amps as pressure of voltage...

How It Works
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