The ACUPWR Papers

ACUPWR USA Explains Basic Electrical Principles, Part 1.

This is the first of a two-part article about understanding basic electrical concepts and applying them toward understanding ACUPWR voltage transformers/converters and selecting the model that best meets your needs.

For many of us it’s not easy to wrap our heads around electrical concepts such as voltage, amps, ohms, and wattage. And if you look for a simple explanation on Wikipedia, it doesn’t take long before you’ll get bogged down with formulas and physical theories that will blind you with science.

But let’s keep things basic for now by explaining electricity as it applies to ACUPWR voltage transformers and converters. Let’s start by thinking of electricity as analogous to water (an analogy that’s a favorite for science teachers everywhere). Imagine a large, 100-gallon water tank. The tank has a pipe connected at the bottom that delivers water to a large water wheel. The tank, or water supply is comparable to the electricity company. When a spigot connected to the pipe is opened water flows through the pipe. In electrical terms, the amount of flow, or current, is measured as amps, or amperes. Only in this case, the bigger the wire, the more electricity can flow through it.

Like a river or a stream, the current of water can be raging like during the aftermath of a storm, or it can be a mere trickle like during a drought. The amount of pressure on the water has to do with factors such as the volume of water at the top of the stream (a large body of water) and the force it places on water flowing downstream. Squeeze the aforementioned water tank and the water will flow through the pipe with more force and strength.

Electrical current also flows with force or pressure from its source. In electricity’s case, force and pressure is measured in voltage. The higher the voltage, the stronger and more forceful the electricity.

Meanwhile, wattage is the measurement of how much, or the actual amount, of electrical current being used, or consumed, in one second. This information is useful in several ways: it allows the power grid to determine how much to bill you each month, and it also tells you how much electricity a certain appliance or electrical device requires for each second of operation. A ceiling fan with a rating of 100 watts needs to consume 100 watts per second to operate at full speed. A refrigerator might need upwards of 1000 watts per second to work efficiently. 

Another measurement, Volt Amps (VA), the product of the voltage value multiplied by amps, can help determine the size wiring and wall outlet needed for a particular appliance. Those huge industrial air conditioners on top of buildings? Trust us, they don’t plug into the wall outlet like your clock radio. Instead they are wired directly to the circuit box with very thick wiring that can accommodate the large amperage required to operate.

Resistance, as measured in ohms, is another important facet of understanding electricity. Basically, it refers to any external factor that might impede the flow of electricity through its wire. As electricity flows freely, there is almost always some kind of resistance, such as the size of the wire or its material (copper allows electricity to move more freely than aluminum) that will impede on the flow of electricity. Just like a large dam will stop the flow of water in a river, glass and rubber stand in the way of electricity. You get the idea.

Electricity and its principals can get enormously complicated when you factor in the differences between AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current) and concepts like phase and induction. For practical purposes, and at least when we’re discussing ACUPWR’s voltage transformers and converters, understanding the interplay of wattage, amperage, and voltage provides you with a solid foundation. The second part of this article discusses how to apply ideas introduced here toward choosing the appropriate ACUPWR transformer for your requirements.

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