Watt

Last updated
watt
Unit system SI derived unit
Unit of Power
SymbolW
Named after James Watt
Conversions
1 W in ...... is equal to ...
    SI base units     kg m 2 s −3
    CGS units    107  ergs −1
    English Engineering Units    0.7375621 ft⋅lbf/s = 0.001341022 hp

The watt (symbol: W) is a unit of power or radiant flux. In the International System of Units (SI), it is defined as a derived unit of (in SI base units) [1] [2] 1 kg⋅m2⋅s−3 or, equivalently, [3] 1 joule per second. It is used to quantify the rate of energy transfer. The watt is named after James Watt (1736-1819), an 18th-century Scottish inventor.

Contents

Overview

When an object's velocity is held constant at one metre per second against a constant opposing force of one newton, the rate at which work is done is one watt.

In terms of electromagnetism, one watt is the rate at which electrical work is performed when a current of one ampere (A) flows across an electrical potential difference of one volt (V), meaning the watt is equivalent to the volt-ampere (the latter unit, however, is used for a different quantity from the real power of an electrical circuit).

Two additional unit conversions for watt can be found using the above equation and Ohm's law.

where ohm () is the SI derived unit of electrical resistance.

Examples

Origin and adoption as an SI unit

The watt is named after the Scottish inventor James Watt. [5] This unit name was proposed initially by C. William Siemens in August 1882 in his President's Address to the Fifty-Second Congress of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. [6] Noting that units in the practical system of units were named after leading physicists, Siemens proposed that watt might be an appropriate name for a unit of power. [7] Siemens defined the unit consistently within the then-existing system of practical units as "the power conveyed by a current of an Ampère through the difference of potential of a Volt". [8]

In October 1908, at the International Conference on Electric Units and Standards in London, [9] so-called "international" definitions were established for practical electrical units. [10] Siemens' definition was adopted as the "international" watt. (Also used: 1 A2 × 1 Ω.) [5] The watt was defined as equal to 107 units of power in the "practical system" of units. [10] The "international units" were dominant from 1909 until 1948. After the 9th General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1948, the "international" watt was redefined from practical units to absolute units (i.e., using only length, mass, and time). Concretely, this meant that 1 watt was now defined as the quantity of energy transferred in a unit of time, namely 1 J/s. In this new definition, 1 "absolute" watt = 1.00019 "international" watts. Texts written before 1948 are likely to be using the "international" watt, which implies caution when comparing numerical values from this period with the post-1948 watt. [5] In 1960 the 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures adopted the "absolute" watt into the International System of Units (SI) as the unit of power. [11]

Multiples

SI multiples of watt (W)
SubmultiplesMultiples
ValueSI symbolNameValueSI symbolName
10−1 WdWdeciwatt101 WdaWdecawatt
10−2 WcWcentiwatt102 WhWhectowatt
10−3 WmWmilliwatt103 WkWkilowatt
10−6 WµWmicrowatt106 WMWmegawatt
10−9 WnWnanowatt109 WGWgigawatt
10−12 WpWpicowatt1012 WTWterawatt
10−15 WfWfemtowatt1015 WPWpetawatt
10−18 WaWattowatt1018 WEWexawatt
10−21 WzWzeptowatt1021 WZWzettawatt
10−24 WyWyoctowatt1024 WYWyottawatt
Common multiples are in bold face

Attowatt

The attowatt (aW) is equal to one quintillionth (10−18) of a watt. The sound intensity in water corresponding to the international standard reference sound pressure of 1 μPa is approximately 0.65 aW/m2. [12]

Femtowatt

The femtowatt (fW) is equal to one quadrillionth (10−15) of a watt. Technologically important powers that are measured in femtowatts are typically found in references to radio and radar receivers. For example, meaningful FM tuner performance figures for sensitivity, quieting and signal-to-noise require that the RF energy applied to the antenna input be specified. These input levels are often stated in dBf (decibels referenced to 1 femtowatt). This is 0.2739 microvolt across a 75-ohm load or 0.5477 microvolt across a 300-ohm load; the specification takes into account the RF input impedance of the tuner.

Picowatt

The picowatt (pW), not to be confused with the much larger petawatt (PW), is equal to one trillionth (10−12) of a watt. Technologically important powers that are measured in picowatts are typically used in reference to radio and radar receivers, acoustics and in the science of radio astronomy. One picowatt is the international standard reference value of sound power when this quantity is expressed as a level in decibels. [13]

Nanowatt

The nanowatt (nW) is equal to one billionth (10−9) of a watt. Important powers that are measured in nanowatts are also typically used in reference to radio and radar receivers.

Microwatt

The microwatt (µW) is equal to one millionth (10−6) of a watt. Important powers that are measured in microwatts are typically stated in medical instrumentation systems such as the EEG and the ECG, in a wide variety of scientific and engineering instruments and also in reference to radio and radar receivers. Compact solar cells for devices such as calculators and watches are typically measured in microwatts. [14]

Milliwatt

The milliwatt (mW) is equal to one thousandth (10−3) of a watt. A typical laser pointer outputs about five milliwatts of light power, whereas a typical hearing aid for people uses less than one milliwatt. [15] Audio signals and other electronic signal levels are often measured in dBm, referenced to one milliwatt.

Kilowatt

The kilowatt (kW) is equal to one thousand (103) watts. This unit is typically used to express the output power of engines and the power of electric motors, tools, machines, and heaters. It is also a common unit used to express the electromagnetic power output of broadcast radio and television transmitters.

One kilowatt is approximately equal to 1.34 horsepower. A small electric heater with one heating element can use 1.0 kilowatt. The average electric power consumption of a household in the United States is about one kilowatt. [lower-roman 2]

A surface area of one square meter on Earth receives typically about one kilowatt of sunlight from the Sun (the solar irradiance) (on a clear day at mid day, close to the equator). [17]

Megawatt

The megawatt (MW) is equal to one million (106) watts. Many events or machines produce or sustain the conversion of energy on this scale, including large electric motors; large warships such as aircraft carriers, cruisers, and submarines; large server farms or data centers; and some scientific research equipment, such as supercolliders, and the output pulses of very large lasers. A large residential or commercial building may use several megawatts in electric power and heat. On railways, modern high-powered electric locomotives typically have a peak power output of 5 or 6 MW, while some produce much more. The Eurostar, for example, uses more than 12 MW, while heavy diesel-electric locomotives typically produce/use 3 to 5 MW. U.S. nuclear power plants have net summer capacities between about 500 and 1300 MW. [18]

The earliest citing of the megawatt in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a reference in the 1900 Webster's International Dictionary of English Language. The OED also states that megawatt appeared in a 28 November 1947 article in the journal Science (506:2).

A United States Department of Energy video explaining gigawatts.

Gigawatt

The gigawatt (GW) is equal to one billion (109) watts or 1 gigawatt = 1000 megawatts. This unit is often used for large power plants or power grids. For example, by the end of 2010, power shortages in China's Shanxi province were expected to increase to 5–6 GW [19] and the installed capacity of wind power in Germany was 25.8 GW. [20] The largest unit (out of four) of the Belgian Doel Nuclear Power Station has a peak output of 1.04 GW. [21] HVDC converters have been built with power ratings of up to 2 GW. [22]

Terawatt

The terawatt (TW) is equal to one trillion (1012) watts. The total power used by humans worldwide is commonly measured in terawatts. The most powerful lasers from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s produced power in terawatts, but only for nanosecond intervals. The average lightning strike peaks at 1 terawatt, but these strikes only last for 30 microseconds.

Petawatt

The petawatt (PW) is equal to one quadrillion (1015) watts and can be produced by the current generation of lasers for time scales on the order of picoseconds (1012 s). One such laser is the Lawrence Livermore's Nova laser, which achieved a power output of 1.25 PW (1.25×1015 W) by a process called chirped pulse amplification. The duration of the pulse was roughly 0.5  ps (5×10−13 s), giving a total energy of 600 J. [23] Another example is the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments (LFEX) at the Institute of Laser Engineering (ILE), Osaka University, which achieved a power output of 2 PW for a duration of approximately 1  ps. [24] [25]

Based on the average total solar irradiance [26] of 1.366 kW/m2, the total power of sunlight striking Earth's atmosphere is estimated at 174 PW.

Conventions in the electric power industry

In the electric power industry, megawatt electrical (MWe [27] or MWe [28] ) refers by convention to the electric power produced by a generator, while megawatt thermal or thermal megawatt [29] (MWt, MWt, or MWth, MWth) refers to thermal power produced by the plant. For example, the Embalse nuclear power plant in Argentina uses a fission reactor to generate 2109 MWt (i.e. heat), which creates steam to drive a turbine, which generates 648 MWe (i.e. electricity). Other SI prefixes are sometimes used, for example gigawatt electrical (GWe). The International Bureau of Weights and Measures, which maintains the SI-standard, states that further information about a quantity should not be attached to the unit symbol but instead to the quantity symbol (i.e., Pthermal = 270 W rather than P = 270 Wth) and so these units are non-SI. [30] In compliance with SI the energy company Ørsted A/S uses the unit megawatt for produced electrical power and the equivalent unit megajoule per second for delivered heating power in a combined heat and power station such as Avedøre Power Station. [31] Megawatt mechanical (MWm)[ clarification needed ] is rarely used. [32]

When describing alternating current (AC) electricity, another distinction is made between the watt and the volt-ampere. While these units are equivalent for simple resistive circuits, they differ when loads exhibit electrical reactance.

Radio transmission

Radio stations usually report the power of their transmitters in units of watts, referring to the effective radiated power. This refers to the power that a half-wave dipole antenna would need to radiate to match the intensity of the transmitter's main lobe.

Distinction between watts and watt-hours

The terms power and energy are closely related but distinct physical quantities. Power is the rate at which energy is generated or consumed and hence is measured in units (e.g. watts) that represent energy per unit time.

For example, when a light bulb with a power rating of 100W is turned on for one hour, the energy used is 100  watt hours (W·h), 0.1 kilowatt hour, or 360  kJ. This same amount of energy would light a 40-watt bulb for 2.5 hours, or a 50-watt bulb for 2 hours.

Power stations are rated using units of power, typically megawatts or gigawatts (for example, the Three Gorges Dam in China, is rated at approximately 22 gigawatts). This reflects the maximum power output it can achieve at any point in time. A power station's annual energy output, however, would be recorded using units of energy (not power), typically gigawatt hours. Major energy production or consumption is often expressed as terawatt hours for a given period; often a calendar year or financial year. One terawatt hour of energy is equal to a sustained power delivery of one terawatt for one hour, or approximately 114 megawatts for a period of one year:

Power output = energy / time
1 terawatt hour per year = 1×1012 Wh / (365 days × 24 hours per day) ≈ 114 million watts,

equivalent to approximately 114 megawatts of constant power output.

The watt second is a unit of energy, equal to the joule. One kilowatt hour is 3,600,000 watt seconds.

While a watt per hour exists in principle (as a unit of rate of change of power with time [lower-roman 3] ), it is not correct to refer to a watt (or watt hour) as a "watt per hour". [33]

See also

Notes

  1. The energy in climbing the stairs is given by mgh. Setting m = 100 kg, g = 9.8 m/s2 and h = 3 m gives 2940 J. Dividing this by the time taken (5 s) gives a power of 588 W.
  2. Average household electric power consumption is 1.19 kW in the US, 0.53 kW in the UK. In India it is 0.13 kW (urban) and 0.03 kW (rural) – computed from GJ figures quoted by Nakagami, Murakoshi and Iwafune. [16]
  3. Watts per hour would properly refer to a rate of change of power being used (or generated). Watts per hour might be useful to characterize the ramp-up behavior of power plants, or slow-reacting plant where their power could only change slowly. For example, a power plant that changes its power output from 1 MW to 2 MW in 15 minutes would have a ramp-up rate of 4 MW/h.

Related Research Articles

Ampere SI base unit of electric current

The ampere, often shortened to amp, is the base unit of electric current in the International System of Units (SI). It is named after André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836), French mathematician and physicist, considered the father of electromagnetism.

The joule is a derived unit of energy in the International System of Units. It is equal to the energy transferred to an object when a force of one newton acts on that object in the direction of the force's motion through a distance of one metre. It is also the energy dissipated as heat when an electric current of one ampere passes through a resistance of one ohm for one second. It is named after the English physicist James Prescott Joule (1818–1889).

In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. In the International System of Units, the unit of power is the watt, equal to one joule per second. In older works, power is sometimes called activity. Power is a scalar quantity.

The coulomb is the International System of Units (SI) unit of electric charge. Under the 2019 redefinition of the SI base units, which took effect on 20 May 2019, the coulomb is exactly 1/(1.602176634×10−19) elementary charges. The same number of electrons has the same magnitude but opposite sign of charge, that is, a charge of −1 C.

Kilowatt-hour Unit of energy

The kilowatt-hour is a unit of energy equal to 3600 kilojoules (3.6 megajoules). The kilowatt-hour is commonly used as a billing unit for energy delivered to consumers by electric utilities.

Power station Facility generating electric power

A power station, also referred to as a power plant and sometimes generating station or generating plant, is an industrial facility for the generation of electric power. Power stations are generally connected to an electrical grid.

Small hydro Hydroelectric project at the local level with a few MW production

Small hydro is the development of hydroelectric power on a scale suitable for local community and industry, or to contribute to distributed generation in a regional electricity grid. Precise definitions vary, but a "small hydro" project is less than 50 megawatts (MW), and can be further subdivide by scale into "mini" (<1MW), "micro" (<100 kW), "pico" (<10 kW). In contrast many hydroelectric projects are of enormous size, such as the generating plant at the Three Gorges Dam at 22,500 megawatts or the vast multiple projects of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The efficiency of a system in electronics and electrical engineering is defined as useful power output divided by the total electrical power consumed, typically denoted by the Greek small letter eta.

Electricity meter

An electricity meter, electric meter, electrical meter, or energy meter is a device that measures the amount of electric energy consumed by a residence, a business, or an electrically powered device.

Manitoba Hydro Electric power and natural gas utility company in Manitoba, Canada

Manitoba Hydro is the electric power and natural gas utility in the province of Manitoba, Canada. Founded in 1961, it is a provincial Crown Corporation, governed by the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board and the Manitoba Hydro Act. Today the company operates 15 interconnected generating stations. It has more than 527,000 electric power customers and more than 263,000 natural gas customers. Since most of the electrical energy is provided by hydroelectric power, the utility has low electricity rates. Stations in Northern Manitoba are connected by a HVDC system, the Nelson River Bipole, to customers in the south. The internal staff are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 998 while the outside workers are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2034.

The efficiency of air conditioners is often rated by the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) which is defined by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute in its 2008 standard AHRI 210/240, Performance Rating of Unitary Air-Conditioning and Air-Source Heat Pump Equipment. A similar standard is the European seasonal energy efficiency ratio (ESEER).

Nevada Solar One

Nevada Solar One is a concentrated solar power plant, with a nominal capacity of 64 MW and maximum steam turbine power output up to 72 MW net (75 MW gross), spread over an area of 400 acres (160 ha). The projected CO2 emissions avoided is equivalent to taking approximately 20,000 cars off the road. The project required an investment of $266 million USD, and the project officially went into operation in June 2007. Electricity production is estimated to be 134 GWh (gigawatt hours) per year.

Solar power by country

Many countries and territories have installed significant solar power capacity into their electrical grids to supplement or provide an alternative to conventional energy sources. Solar power plants use one of two technologies:

Energy conversion efficiency Ratio between the useful output and the input of a machine

Energy conversion efficiency (η) is the ratio between the useful output of an energy conversion machine and the input, in energy terms. The input, as well as the useful output may be chemical, electric power, mechanical work, light (radiation), or heat.

Andasol Solar Power Station

The Andasol solar power station is a 150-megawatt (MW) concentrated solar power station and Europe's first commercial plant to use parabolic troughs. It is located near Guadix in Andalusia, Spain, and its name is a portmanteau of Andalusia and Sol. The Andasol plant uses tanks of molten salt as thermal energy storage to continue generating electricity, irrespective of whether the sun is shining or not.

The nominal power is the nameplate capacity of photovoltaic (PV) devices, such as solar cells, modules and systems, and is determined by measuring the electric current and voltage in a circuit, while varying the resistance under precisely defined conditions. The nominal power is important for designing an installation in order to correctly dimension its cabling and converters.

Beryozovskaya GRES

Beryozovskaya GRES is a coal-fired power plant near the town of Sharypovo in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia. The power plant is owned by Unipro. The installed capacity of the plant is 1,600 megawatts (2,100,000 hp).

Growth of photovoltaics

Worldwide growth of photovoltaics has been close to exponential between 1992 and 2018. During this period of time, photovoltaics (PV), also known as solar PV, evolved from a niche market of small-scale applications to a mainstream electricity source.

Solar power in Turkey Heat and electrical energy from the sun in the Eurasian country

Turkey is located in an advantageous position in the Middle East and Southeast Europe for solar energy. Solar potential is very high in Turkey, especially in the South Eastern Anatolia and Mediterranean provinces. Conditions for solar power generation are comparable to Spain. 7.5 TWh was generated in 2018 which was 2.5% of Turkey's electricity. Installed capacity was 5GW, with the Energy Ministry planning to have another 10GW installed in the 2020s. However solar power in Turkey could increase far more quickly if subsidies for coal were abolished and the auction system was improved. Every gigawatt of solar power installed would save over 100 million USD on the gas bill.

Hydroelectricity is the second most important renewable energy source after solar energy in Japan with an installed capacity of 50.0 gigawatt (GW) as of 2019. According to the International Hydropower Association Japan was the world's sixth largest producer of hydroelectricity in 2020. Most of Japanese hydroelectric power plants are pumped-storage plants. Conventional hydropower plants account for about 20 GW out of the total installed capacity as of 2007.

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  8. "Siemens", 1883, p. 5"
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