# Light Bulbs: Watts & Voltage

Instructor: Catherine Maher

Catherine has taught 4th through 7th grade and has a master's degree in reading education.

In this lesson, you will learn what volts and watts mean, especially when used to describe a type of light bulb. You will also review what is meant by an electrical current.

## Lights Out!

You walk into a room and flip a light switch. With a quiet 'pop', the light goes on and then burns out. You need a new light bulb!

If you look at a store display of light bulbs, you'll see dozens of shapes, sizes, and colors. Almost all of them will have a printed description about the voltage and wattage of each particular bulb. But what do 'voltage' and 'wattage' mean?

## Electrical Units

Electricians use several measurements of electrical power: voltage and wattage. Electricity is the flow of electrons in a current through a conductor like a wire. Electrons are very tiny, and we can't see them flow. But the idea of a current is one you might already be familiar with: a current of water flowing through pipes. This comparison can help you understand voltage and wattage.

### Volts

One way we can measure electricity is with voltage, or volts, which measure the force of electricity moving through a current. Imagine a small pump pushing water through a pipe. If you replace the small pump with a large pump, you'll increase the water force. In the same way, a large battery has more volts, or force, of electricity than a small one.

### Watts

Electricians also use wattage, or watts, a measurement of the power of an electric current. Think of watts as a measurement of the work that a particular current can do, like lighting a light bulb. Imagine a flow of water turning a water wheel. A powerful flow of water will turn the wheel fast, just like many watts will produce a bright light.

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