MLA Citation: |
Bloomfield, Louis A. "Question 1075"How Everything Works 20 Jul 2018. 20 Jul 2018 <http://howeverythingworks.org/print1.php?QNum=1075>. |

1075. What is the formula for finding the power in an AC circuit?

If an appliance receiving power from an AC power source behaves as an electric resistor—meaning that the current passing through it is proportional to the voltage drop across it—then it's easy to calculate the power being consumed by this appliance. You simply multiply the voltage drop across the appliance (measured in volts) by the current passing through the appliance (measured in amperes) to obtain the power (measured in watts). The voltage drop across the appliance indicates how much energy the appliance extracts from each unit of charge pass through it and the current passing through the appliance is the measure of how many units of charge are passing through the appliance each second. Thus the product of voltage drop times current gives the energy that the appliance extracts from the current each second, which is the power extracted by the appliance. On the other hand, if the appliance behaves like an inductor or capacitor—meaning that the current passing through it isn't proportional to the voltage drop across it—it's much harder to calculate the power that the appliance is consuming.

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