# DIY Instructions

## Volts...Amps...Watt does it all mean?

Let’s start with a basic understanding and build from there. Amps, volts and watts are three of the main components you will deal with when working with an electrical system. It may seem overwhelming so we’ll help you break it down into simple terms to understand how electricity works, how much electrical power you’ll need and how to use it.

## USEFUL ELECTRICAL TERMS

Atoms – Atoms are the building blocks of matter. An atom consists of a nucleus with positively charged protons and neutrally charged neutrons surrounded by negatively charged electrons. Different types of atoms have different numbers of protons in their nucleus, for example, copper has 29 and gold has 79. Think of an atom as a mini solar system with the protons and neutrons being the sun and electrons being the planets. The wires in your electrical system are made of matter, which is made of atoms.

Electrons – Unlike planets, with their slow elliptical orbits, electrons move around the nucleus at the speed of light in a path that is described as a “probability cloud”.

Electricity – When atoms group together, they can form molecules. When this happens, they share electrons. Atoms and molecules that are close to each other can pass electrons to the atoms next to them. If an atom gives up more electrons than it receives, it becomes more positively charged. If it receives more electrons than it gives, it becomes more negatively charged. If it takes the same amount as it passes, the charge doesn’t change. The flow of electrons through a conductor is what we call electricity. Think of a copper wire, as a long string of atoms, all taking electrons from one side and pushing them out the other side.

## WHAT’S A VOLT?

Voltage, Volts, V, Potential, Charge – A volt is used to determine the electrical capacity of a circuit to maintain a current through your RV. It is essentially the speed of electrons moving through the electrical circuit. Think of it as the pressure behind electrons that causes them to move.

This charge is only relative to whatever you are comparing it to. When measuring voltage, your aim is to find the electrical potential difference between two points. This is why voltage meters have two probes, not just one.

Side note: Voltage is usually relative because not all copper atoms in a conductor have 29 electrons (matching the number of protons) at all times. This is where a grounding rod comes into play. The earth is so large, that there are plenty of electrons to go around. An earth ground balances everything out to the same relative charge.

Side note: Voltage is usually relative because not all copper atoms in a conductor have 29 electrons (matching the number of protons) at all times. This is where a grounding rod comes into play. The earth is so large, that there are plenty of electrons to go around. An earth ground balances everything out to the same relative charge.

## WHAT’S AN AMP?

Amperage, Amperes, Amps, A, Current, I – Electrical current is just the flow rate of electrons. Like how a river is measured in gallons per second, an Amp is one coulomb per second. A coulomb is 6.241 x 10^18 (or 6,241,000,000,000,000,000) electrons.

## WHAT’S AN OHM?

Resistance, Ohms, Ω – Along the path from high voltage to low voltage areas, electrons encounter resistance. This resistance controls the flow rate like a nozzle on a hose. This resistance is measured in Ohms. Ohm’s law explains how all these terms relate with the equation: I=V/R

## WHAT’S A WATT?

Watts, Energy, W, Volt-Amps, VA – When flowing electrons encounter resistance, things happen. Typically, resistive material gets hot. Flow current also produces magnetic fields, and a voltage differential creates an electric field. This is what makes electricity do things in what is called work. This work can be measured in Watts and is equal to Volts times Amps (Watts = Volts x Amps).

When sunlight hits a solar panel, voltage and current are produced. This current, pushed by voltage, flows through wires in an electrical system to perform work when it encounters resistance, which can be measured in terms of watts.

To learn about Amp Hours, Watt hours and Power, go to the next section.