What are amps?

Ampere (abbreviation: A) is the unit of electric current in the International System Unit (SI). It indicates the amount of electric current that flows through a conductor when a voltage of one volt is applied.

To make it easier to understand, imagine that electric current flows like water in a pipe. The strength of the current would be comparable to the amount of water flowing through the pipe per second. When more electric current flows through a conductor, the number of amperes increases, just as when more water flows through a pipe, the amount of water per second increases.

This is how you could explain the term ampere to a child

Amps are a type of measurement of electric current, much like measuring cups are used to measure the volume of liquids. Just as you measure liquids in liters or milliliters, you measure electric current in amperes. The more electric current flows, the higher the number of amperes.

Who Invented Amps?

The unit "ampere" was named after André-Marie Ampère, a French scientist and mathematician who lived in the 19th century. Ampère has done much to help us understand how electric current works and is considered one of the founders of electrodynamics. Because he contributed so much, the unit of electric current was named after him.

Andre-Marie Ampere
André-Marie Ampère was a French physicist and mathematician who is considered one of the founders of electrodynamics (Photo: Wikipedia).

He was born on January 20, 1775 in Lyon, France and died on June 10, 1836 in Marseille, France. Ampère is best known for his work on electrodynamics and for developing a theory of electric currents, later known as Ampère's laws. These laws form the basis for modern electrical engineering and electronics. Ampère was a brilliant scientist who was considered one of the world's leading physicists in his day. He was posthumously honored with many awards for his work.

What is it about watts, volts and amps?

Watt, volt and ampere are all units of measurement used in electrical engineering to describe electrical energy and electric current. Here is a brief explanation for each unit:

  • Watt (W): A watt is the unit of electrical power. It indicates how much electrical energy is consumed in a certain time.
  • Volt (V): A volt is the unit of electrical voltage. It indicates the force required to move an electric current through a conductor.
  • Ampere (A): An ampere is the unit of electric current. It describes the amount of electric current that flows through a conductor in a given time.

Together these units are used to describe the electrical power required to operate electrical equipment and machines. The formula for this is: Power (W) = Voltage (V) x Current (A).

Here you can see analog ammeters that can display currents up to 40 amperes, with the scale becoming increasingly imprecise (photo: Wikipedia).
Here you can see analog ammeters that can display currents up to 40 amperes, with the scale becoming increasingly imprecise (photo: Wikipedia).

How is an ampere defined?

An ampere (A) is defined as the amount of electric current that will flow through an ideal conductor when a force of one Newton per meter is applied to the electrons. Or, to put it another way, an ampere is the current at which an electrical force of one volt on a conductor of one ohm resistance flows a charge of one coulomb per second.

This definition has been agreed internationally and is part of the International System of Units (SI). It is a fundamental unit for describing electric current and is commonly used to describe current in electronics, electrical engineering, and other fields.

Digital Multimeter Photo: Nekhil R/Unsplash
Digital Multimeter - Photo: Nekhil R/Unsplash

How can I measure the current?

There are two ways of measuring the current flowing through a line:

  1. You take a multimeter, disconnect the line and connect the multimeter in between so that the current can only flow through the multimeter. This measurement is very accurate, but unfortunately not always possible because it may not be possible to disconnect the cable or this can only be done by an electrician.
  1. The second option is to measure the current using a clip-on multimeter. This "grips" around the cable and can measure the current strength through the magnetic field that emanates from the cable. The disadvantage of this method is that it is unfortunately quite imprecise, because the measurement accuracy is often only 0,5 amps, depending on the model. For many measurements, however, this variant is completely sufficient, since you may only need to know roughly whether 0,1 A, 1,0 A or 10 A are flowing through a cable. I can easily do that with the clamp multimeter.
In a digital multimeter, the amperes are displayed with the letter "A" (Photo: Wikipedia).
In a digital multimeter, the amperes are displayed with the letter "A" (Photo: Wikipedia).

10 fun facts about “ampere”

To loosen up the topic a little, I have a collection of interesting facts that have to do with amps:

Here are some fun facts about amps:

  1. The ampere is a unit of current named after the French physicist André-Marie Ampère.
  2. Ampère developed the theory of electromagnetism and is often referred to as the "father of electrical engineering".
  3. The ampere is defined by the number of electrons flowing through a given cross-section per second.
  4. An ampere is approximately 6,241 x 10^18 electrons per second.
  5. The power of devices that use electricity is measured in watts, while the electricity itself is measured in amperes.
  6. The international unit for the ampere is the ampere (A).
  7. The ampere is one of the seven fundamental units of the SI (International System of Units) system, but voltage is not.
  8. Moving a conductor through a magnetic field can generate an electrical voltage. This is the basis for the operation of generators and electric motors.
  9. In electrical circuits, you can control the flow of current through the use of resistors and voltage sources.
  10. The ampere is also used to measure the electrical current carried by lightning.

I hope this post gave you some new information and was reasonably entertaining. If you have a few more questions or tips on the subject of current and amps, please let me know by leaving a comment.

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