The Difference Between Volts, Amps, and Watts


This article explains the difference between Volts, Amps, and Watts in an easy-to-understand non-scientific way.  This will attempt to clarify why a higher value for one of these terms may or may not be needed and how they relate to each other.

The easiest way to understand how these items are related is to use the analogy of the garden hose.  Letís say the garden hose is the electrical wire.  Then, the water pressure is the voltage; the volume of water flowing through the hose is the amp or amperage; the watts or wattage is the amount of water that is coming out of the hose.  For amps, think of it as the speed at which the water is traveling.

Higher voltage, then, basically allows for more amps to flow to the electrical device.  That is why some high power consumption devices, such as kitchen appliances, will run on their own circuit and with a higher voltage.  In order to get more amps, the appliance needs more voltage.  And, as you should have guessed by now, this will equal a higher wattage usage.

So, letís compare two light-bulbs.  One is 50 watts and one is 75 watts.  Letís say you can plug them both into the same lamp, but you want to know the difference.  Well, the 75 watt bulb allows more electricity into it; essentially, this is the same as fitting a larger nozzle on the end of a hose to enable more water to come out.  The larger the nozzle, the more water that can come out, but the more water you are using.  The higher the watts for the light-bulb, the brighter the bulb (in general) and, therefore, it will use more electricity than a lower wattage bulb.  If it helps, remember that your electric bill is measured in watts used per month, or kilo-watts (1000 watts).

So, to sum up; watts are a measurement of how much electricity is being used; amps are a measurement of how fast the electricity is being moved; and, volts are basically a measurement of how much electricity can get through.