Power basics: breaking it down

The electric power we use every day can seem complicated to understand. Thousands of users get their electricity bill from the utility companies and many just sit back and complain about how the bills are so high and never really understand the basics of the billing or the metering system.

It’s okay if you don’t, at the end of this short piece, I am sure you would have a clearer understanding of how it all works. You see, while there is a lot of talk about transitioning to alternative and clean energy sources, the ability to grasp the idea of wattage, power generation and consumption will go a long way to understanding the shortfalls of some of these alternative energy sources. I mean, if solar was so great, why doesn’t everyone have it yet? Or if ‘wind power’ was the ultimate clean energy source, why don’t we have windmills on every possible site?

A major shortfall of Solar photovoltaics is the amount of Kilowatt hours of energy generated when compared to that generated by other conventional sources like coal or hydroelectric plants.

So getting to the basics. The amount of electricity your equipment consumes is measured in ‘kiloWatt hour’ (kWh). This is a measure of energy consumed, and it is simply the amount of power consumed per hour.

Let’s say a 60watt bulb needs to be used for 5 hours in one day, how much energy do we need to keep the bulb running for those 5 hours? An easy way to figure that out is to multiply the number of hours by the wattage of the bulb. That equates to 60 x 5 = 300Watt.hour. But didn’t I mention earlier that energy consumed is measured in kiloWatt? Kilo is only an expression for 1000, which makes 1Kw same as 1000w. That implies that 300 watt is 0.3kiloWatt, this is why the energy consumption for your bulb in that period of time will be 0.3kiloWatthour.

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This way, you are able to calculate by yourself how much energy you consume once you know the wattage of your equipment and how long you are running them for.

If you just looked at an equipment right now and you are unable to find watt on it and probably saw V (Voltage) or A (Ampere), do not fret, simply multiplying your Voltage by the Ampere gives the Watt.

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 01.20.10.png A good way to keep this in memory is to imagine energy as a bank account balance. If you have an account balance of let’s say 50 kWh, and withdraw energy from the account at 5kWh, you are going to exhaust your balance at a faster rate than if you had an equipment that consumed energy at 2.5kWh. The watt can be compared to the actual cash in the bank, and the kWh to the rate at which the cash is withdrawn.

I really do hope you have some clarity on the use of these expressions!



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