If you want to become a poseur who acts like he knows about electricity, you are probably a moron. But who knows, you may just be a high functioning sociopath. Or a low functioning psychopath. Or you just may be a guy aiming for a girl who is really, really into Nikola Tesla. To be a functioning poseur when it comes to electricity, there are certain terms you need to become familiar with.
The poseur needs to think of electric current as if it were similar to the current of a stream or river. The more water that gets carried along by the current, the farther and faster you can go. The more current that is carried along an electrical wire, the more light, heat or power it produces.
The poseur should understand exactly what a volt is, since electrical repair relies on this essential component. A volt is the unit of electric pressure that forces amperes through wires. Without voltage pressure, the flow of amperes comes to a dead stop.
Okay, so the poseur can’t really understand what a volt is until he or she gets the skinny on amperes. The ampere is a measurement of the electric current that is flowing through a wire at any given time. The rating of amperes is dependent upon the size of the wire or cable through which the current is passing. Fuses, outlets and switches are all rated for amperage.
Named after a Scottish guy named in one of those wild coincidences, Watt, the watt in electrical terms refers to the unit of electrical power. Watt is established by a mathematical equation (or formula, I forget which) that is equal to amperes multiplied by volts. If you’ve got a small appliance that is using up 5 amperes at 110 volts, that appliance will consume 550 watts.
The poseur can really show off his or her knowledge of electricity by understanding and working into polite conversation the concept of voltage drop. You won’t hear this much from the common man, but the hoi polloi down at the electric company will be impressed. Voltage drop is the decrease in electric pressure that is caused by wires that are the wrong size or by circuits that have more outlets than the power source is capable of servicing.
Even if you aren’t a poseur, you have probably wondered what a kilowatt hour is because it is used to charge you a monthly fee. The kilowatt hour is unit of electrical work because the watt unit is really just too small for practical measuring. A kilowatt is 1,000 watts consume per hour. That meter outside your house with the little dials? That’s measuring your kilowatt house usage. Of course, your actual usage may have little to do with how much you are charged. It is not uncommon for homeowners to be charged an estimate of their kilowatt hour consumption based on past measurement. Just one of the little ways that power companies rarely report bad quarterly earnings. That and the fact that monopolies never went out of style as far as power companies are concerned.