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Measuring  Home Usage Power (Watts)

The term watt is used to describe electrical power. Watts is a product of two distinct electrical actions, volts and amperes. You can find the electrical power consumed in your home by taking measurements in the main electrical panel.  Using a voltmeter and a handheld clamp on ammeter will allow you to measure power.

Ammeter hand held clamp on type

Remove the power from the main panel by switching off the large circuit breaker identified as "Main".  Using the screwdriver, remove the main panels cover and set it aside. Reapply the main power to the circuit breaker box. Exercise caution as all exposed metal parts now contain live electricity.

Insert the electrical leads into the voltmeter. The red lead will be placed into the terminal marked "volts" and the black lead goes into the "common" opening. Turn the voltmeter "on" and switch it to "AC".

Touch the black lead to the neutral and grounding bus bar located on the rear and to the side of the main panel box.  This long metal bar will have white and bare copper wires attached. Touch the red lead to one of the circuit breakers with a black wire terminated to its screw. Read the meter. The meter will read in the range of 115 to 125 volts. As an example, the meter in our case registers 120 volts.

Remove the voltmeter from the panel box. Turn on the hand held ammeter and open the clamp by depressing the side trigger. Place the clamp around the same black wire you just measured the voltage. Allow the clamp to close and read the meter. As our example continues, the meter reads 11 amperes.

Find the power consumed by this electrical device that uses 120 volts at 11 amperes. Watts is equal to volts times amperes (W = V X A). Multiplying the two readings together (120 volts X 11 amperes) are equal to 1320 watts.

Calculate the answer in Kilowatts or Kw. One kilo is equal to 1000. We can divide 1320 watts by 1000. So 1320 watts is equal 1.32 Kw.

Words to the Wise:
By adding all the power consumed in the home appliances, you can create a chart and compare that with your monthly electrical bill. The chart may help you in identifying wasteful electrical practices.

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Kat and Kevin Yares

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