The Difference Between Watts vs. Volts

What’s the difference between watts and volts? In this quick read, we will explain it in simple terms even if you’re not an engineer.

So here is their differences:

Main Differences In Simple Terms

voltage-and-current-illustration

Voltage is the pressure of the electrical current going through the wire, and wattage describes the speed of the electrical current flow.

Watt = Voltage X Current

Watts and volts are set by a system called SI (International System of Units).

A solid understanding of the difference between watts vs volts helps you do electrical repair, troubleshooting, and installation work with clarity to prevent avoidable mistakes.

Pressure Of Electrical Current (Voltage)

In layman’s terms, voltage is pressure.

Think of it like water pressure through the pipe as the speed of the electrons passing a point within a circuit.

For a battery system, the voltage drops as the capacity drops.

Volume Of Electrical Current (Amperage)

Current (Amperage) measures the volume of electrons in the electrical current.

1 A is the current that flows with electric charge of one Coulomb per second.

1 A = 1C/s

Speed Of Electrical Current (Watt)

Think of watt as how fast a bulk of electrons move through the circuit as an energy consumption rate of 1 joule per second.

1 W = 1 J / s

and

1W = 1V X 1A

Common FAQ

How Many Watts Is In One Volt?

1 Watt is in a Volt. It represents the “potential difference between two points of a conducting wire carrying a constant current of 1 ampere.

How Many Watt Hour Is In A 12V Battery?

If battery amp hour = 400 Ah, Watt Hour = 12 V X 400 Ah = 4800 Wh

Check out this chart to learn more about watt hrs in a 12V battery

Can A Circuit Have A Different Voltages & Current?

A system can have different setups such as parallel and series connections to yield different voltage and current flow.

In parallel circuit:

  • Same voltage
  • All components are connected end to end to form only one path for the current flow
  • Total current equals the sum of individual branch currents
  • Individual resistances diminish rather than add to make the total

In series circuit:

  • Voltage drops add to the equal total voltage
  • All components share the same current
  • Resistances add to the equal total resistance

To learn more about picking between parallel VS series, please click here

Which Unit Should I Pay Attention To ? Watt Or Voltage

To answer what matters more watts or volts?

They are both important to pay attention to when working on a circuit system.

Volts and watt are not independent of each other. Watts cannot exist without volts since they are the product between volts and amps.

In a hydraulic analogy, the volt is similar to pressure and watts are similar to rate.

For example, a system that requires 700W of power like a desktop computer, then you need a power supply system of 700W or more to feed all the components to run properly.

As far as voltage goes, picking a suitable cable that can handle the electrical pressure is important.

Please check out our wire size guide for more information.

Typical voltages supplied by power companies to consumers are 110 – 120V (Alternating Current)

Ying Xu

Graduated from the University of Kansas with an Aerospace Engineering degree & served 4 years as an US Air Force officer. Experienced with basic survival skills, weapon system security,  technical disaster recovery, and system troubleshooting

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