Image by Zbynek Burival

Energy Basics

Whether you’re a craftsman powering the tools in your workshop, a camper charging up a flashlight, or a cabin-dweller using off-grid electricity to meet your daily energy needs, your power must be sufficient and reliable. Every Hysolis product is engineered and designed to provide you with the power you need. 

 

To choose an appropriate Solar Power Station and Solar Panels, it is important to become familiar with the basic concepts of electrical energy. We provide an introduction here.

Watts

 

Two of the most important figures you must become familiar with are “watts” and “watt-hours.” What do they mean?

 

A watt is a unit of power. More watts means more power. Think about the exertion required to ride a bicycle on flat ground. Now, compare that with the exertion required to ride a bike up a steep hill. More power is required to ride up the hill. A tiny LED light might need only 1 Watt of power to operate. A typical electric space heater, on the other hand, can easily use 1500 Watts when operating at full power!

 

One “kilowatt” (kW) = 1,000 Watts.

 

A watt-hour is a unit of energy. How much energy does it take to ride a bike 1-mile on flat ground? Now, how much energy does it take to ride a bike 1-mile up a hill? You will feel much more tired after riding 1-mile up a hill because your body used up much more energy.

How much energy does it take to operate our tiny LED light for exactly 1 hour? Remember, the LED light requires 1 Watt of power to operate. So, to operate for one hour, the LED light will require 1 watt-hour of energy. To power the electric space heater for 1 hour, it will take 1500 Watts times 1 hour = 1500 Watt-hours.

 

One “kWh” = 1,000 Watt-hours. So, it took 1.5 kWh to operate the space heater for 1 hour.

Application to the Real World


But what does this mean in real-life? Basically, your watts determine what you can run, and your watt-hours determine how long you can run it. Refer to this appliance load chart for examples:

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(Credit Mike Sundberg, rvtechlibrary.com)

 

Amps and Volts


 

Also very important are the values amperage and voltage. 

 

One analogy to help understand these is to think of electricity like water running through a hose. Amperage is the volume of water running through the hose per second, and voltage is the water pressure forcing the water through the hose.

 

The number of amps is also called the “current.”

Relating Watts, Amps, and Volts

 

To tie everything together, know this:

 

Voltage multiplied by amperage is equal to the watts of power!

 

When a device is drawing 15 Amps of current from a 110 Volt household plug, that device is being powered by 1650 Watts of power.

 

Alternating Current

 

Alternating Current (AC) is a what most household appliances use. Its voltage is sinusoidal with respect to time:

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Direct Current

Direct Current (DC) is what comes directly out of batteries and solar panels. Its voltage is constant with respect to time:

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Inverters

 

An inverter converts DC Power into AC Power.

 

Read Solar Power Stations to learn more about inverters…

 

Ohm's Law
 

To become even more comfortable with energy products, it is extremely helpful to familiarize yourself with Ohm’s Law:

 

Voltage = Current * Resistance

(V = IR)

 

Read Solar Power Basics to learn how solar panel arrays generate electricity at specified voltages and amperages...

 

Final words

 

There is a lot more that could be said here, but knowing just the above information is enough to make informed decisions when choosing energy products. We hope it helps you as you strive towards energy independence.