<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Learning objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Calculate the power dissipated by a resistor and the power supplied by a power supply.
  • Calculate the cost of electricity under various circumstances.

The information presented in this section supports the following AP® learning objectives and science practices:

  • 5.B.9.8 The student is able to translate between graphical and symbolic representations of experimental data describing relationships among power, current, and potential difference across a resistor. (S.P. 1.5)

Power in electric circuits

Power is associated by many people with electricity. Knowing that power is the rate of energy use or energy conversion, what is the expression for electric power    ? Power transmission lines might come to mind. We also think of lightbulbs in terms of their power ratings in watts. Let us compare a 25-W bulb with a 60-W bulb. (See [link] (a).) Since both operate on the same voltage, the 60-W bulb must draw more current to have a greater power rating. Thus the 60-W bulb's resistance must be lower than that of a 25-W bulb. If we increase voltage, we also increase power. For example, when a 25-W bulb that is designed to operate on 120 V is connected to 240 V, it briefly glows very brightly and then burns out. Precisely how are voltage, current, and resistance related to electric power?

Part a has two images. The image on the left is a photograph of a twenty five watt incandescent bulb emitting a dim, yellowish white color. The image on the right is a photograph of a sixty watt incandescent bulb emitting a brighter white light. Part b is a single photograph of a compact fluorescent lightbulb glowing in bright pure white color.
(a) Which of these lightbulbs, the 25-W bulb (upper left) or the 60-W bulb (upper right), has the higher resistance? Which draws more current? Which uses the most energy? Can you tell from the color that the 25-W filament is cooler? Is the brighter bulb a different color and if so why? (credits: Dickbauch, Wikimedia Commons; Greg Westfall, Flickr) (b) This compact fluorescent light (CFL) puts out the same intensity of light as the 60-W bulb, but at 1/4 to 1/10 the input power. (credit: dbgg1979, Flickr)

Electric energy depends on both the voltage involved and the charge moved. This is expressed most simply as PE = qV size 12{"PE"= ital "qV"} {} , where q size 12{q} {} is the charge moved and V size 12{V} {} is the voltage (or more precisely, the potential difference the charge moves through). Power is the rate at which energy is moved, and so electric power is

P = PE t = qV t . size 12{P = { { ital "PE"} over {t} } = { { ital "qV"} over {t} } "."} {}

Recognizing that current is I = q / t size 12{I = q/t} {} (note that Δ t = t size 12{Δt=t} {} here), the expression for power becomes

P = IV. size 12{P = ital "IV."} {}

Electric power ( P size 12{P} {} ) is simply the product of current times voltage. Power has familiar units of watts. Since the SI unit for potential energy (PE) is the joule, power has units of joules per second, or watts. Thus, 1 A V = 1 W size 12{"1 A " cdot V=" 1 W"} {} . For example, cars often have one or more auxiliary power outlets with which you can charge a cell phone or other electronic devices. These outlets may be rated at 20 A, so that the circuit can deliver a maximum power P = IV = ( 20 A ) ( 12 V ) = 240 W . In some applications, electric power may be expressed as volt-amperes or even kilovolt-amperes ( 1 kA V = 1 kW size 12{"1 kA " cdot V=" 1 kW"} {} ).

To see the relationship of power to resistance, we combine Ohm's law with P = IV size 12{P = ital "IV"} {} . Substituting I = V/R size 12{I = ital "V/R"} {} gives P = ( V / R ) V = V 2 / R size 12{P = \( V/R \) V=V rSup { size 8{2} } R} {} . Similarly, substituting V = IR size 12{V= ital "IR"} {} gives P = I ( IR ) = I 2 R size 12{P =I \( ital "IR" \) = I rSup { size 8{2} } R} {} . Three expressions for electric power are listed together here for convenience:

Questions & Answers

Suppose a speck of dust in an electrostatic precipitator has 1.0000×1012 protons in it and has a net charge of –5.00 nC (a very large charge for a small speck). How many electrons does it have?
Alexia Reply
how would I work this problem
what is angular velocity
Obaapa Reply
Why does earth exert only a tiny downward pull?
Mya Reply
Why is light bright?
Abraham Reply
what is radioactive element
Attah Reply
an 8.0 capacitor is connected by to the terminals of 60Hz whoes rms voltage is 150v. a.find the capacity reactance and rms to the circuit
Aisha Reply
thanks so much. i undersooth well
Valdes Reply
what is physics
Nwafor Reply
is the study of matter in relation to energy
a submersible pump is dropped a borehole and hits the level of water at the bottom of the borehole 5 seconds later.determine the level of water in the borehole
Obrian Reply
what is power?
aron Reply
power P = Work done per second W/ t. It means the more power, the stronger machine
e.g. heart Uses 2 W per beat.
A spherica, concave shaving mirror has a radius of curvature of 32 cm .what is the magnification of a persons face. when it is 12cm to the left of the vertex of the mirror
Alona Reply
did you solve?
my name is Abu m.konnek I am a student of a electrical engineer and I want you to help me
the magnification k = f/(f-d) with focus f = R/2 =16 cm; d =12 cm k = 16/4 =4
what do we call velocity
A weather vane is some sort of directional arrow parallel to the ground that may rotate freely in a horizontal plane. A typical weather vane has a large cross-sectional area perpendicular to the direction the arrow is pointing, like a “One Way” street sign. The purpose of the weather vane is to indicate the direction of the wind. As wind blows pa
Kavita Reply
what about the wind vane
If a prism is fully imersed in water then the ray of light will normally dispersed or their is any difference?
Anurag Reply
the same behavior thru the prism out or in water bud abbot
If this will experimented with a hollow(vaccum) prism in water then what will be result ?
What was the previous far point of a patient who had laser correction that reduced the power of her eye by 7.00 D, producing a normal distant vision power of 50.0 D for her?
Jaydie Reply
What is the far point of a person whose eyes have a relaxed power of 50.5 D?
What is the far point of a person whose eyes have a relaxed power of 50.5 D?
A young woman with normal distant vision has a 10.0% ability to accommodate (that is, increase) the power of her eyes. What is the closest object she can see clearly?
29/20 ? maybes
In what ways does physics affect the society both positively or negatively
Princewill Reply
Practice Key Terms 1

Get the best College physics for ap... course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, College physics for ap® courses. OpenStax CNX. Nov 04, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11844/1.14
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'College physics for ap® courses' conversation and receive update notifications?