When it comes to electrical systems, volts and amps are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, they are two distinct concepts that are important to understand in order to ensure safe and efficient operation of electrical equipment. As a commercial and industrial electrical engineering firm, Mark Thomas and Associates (MTA) is dedicated to helping businesses understand the differences between volts and amps, and how to prevent electrical shocks in the workplace.
First, let’s start with some simple definitions of each.
What are Volts?
Volts are a measure of electrical potential difference or the force that drives an electric current through a circuit. If electrical wiring were water pipes, volts would be the water pressure, where pressure is the force pushing water through the plumbing. In the context of electrical systems, volts push the electrons through the electrical wiring. This is why volts are either represented as V meaning “volts” or E meaning “electromotive force.”
What are Amps?
Amps are a measure of the amount of flowing electrons (or volume of flowing water in our plumbing analogy) through a circuit. Current and amps are two terms that are also used interchangeably. Essentially, amps measure the rate at which an electrical charge is moving through a circuit. Amps are represented as A meaning “amps” or I meaning the current’s “intensity.”
Difference Between Volts and Amps
Volts and amps are both important measurements used in understanding electrical power. Volts represent the force or potential that drives the current through a circuit, while amps measure the amount of current flowing through that same circuit. In other words, volts can be thought of as the pressure that drives the current, while amps measure the amount of current flowing. Both measurements are necessary to produce power and are critical in understanding and maintaining electrical systems to ensure they operate safely and efficiently.
Safety Concerns with Using High Levels of Amps or Volts
There are several safety concerns associated with using high levels of amps or volts in a commercial building. Electrical systems that are not properly designed, installed, maintained, and grounded can pose serious hazards to people and property.
Here are some potential safety concerns:
- Electric shock: High levels of current can cause electric shock, which can be fatal. Even lower levels of current can cause injuries such as burns, muscle contractions, and nerve damage. When a shock is above 2,700 volts, regardless of amps, it may result in severe injury or even death.
- Fire hazard: Overloading circuits or using faulty electrical equipment can cause a fire. Fires can be especially dangerous in commercial buildings where there may be large numbers of people and valuable assets.
- Damage to electrical equipment: Using electrical equipment that is not designed to handle high levels of current or voltage can cause damage to the equipment, leading to costly repairs or replacements.
- Electrical noise: High levels of electrical noise, which can be caused by electrical equipment or by improperly grounded electrical systems, can interfere with communication systems, computer networks, and other electronic devices.
To ensure the safety of your building's electrical systems, it is important to have them inspected and maintained regularly by a licensed electrician. You should also follow all relevant safety codes and regulations, including using properly rated equipment, providing adequate grounding, and avoiding overloading circuits.
Preventing Electrical Shock
When it comes to electrical safety in the workplace, both volts and amps can be dangerous. In general, the higher the voltage and amperage of an electrical system, the more dangerous it can be. Electrical shock can cause serious injury or even death, so it's important to take steps to prevent it from happening.
One way to prevent electrical shock in the workplace is to regularly test electrical equipment and systems to ensure that they are functioning properly. Electrical systems should be tested at least once a year to check for any faults or malfunctions. Additionally, employees should be trained on how to use electrical equipment safely and should be made aware of the dangers of electrical shock.
Another way to prevent electrical shock in the workplace is to install safety features such as ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and circuit breakers. These devices can help to prevent electrical shock by cutting off the flow of electricity when a fault is detected.
Hiring a qualified electrical engineer for your commercial building is vital to ensure the safety, efficiency, and reliability of your electrical systems. With their expertise and experience, electrical engineers can identify and address potential issues early on, perform routine maintenance to prevent costly breakdowns, and provide efficient solutions in case of emergencies. Trusting a professional electrical engineer will not only help you comply with regulations and codes, but also provide peace of mind knowing that your commercial building's electrical systems are in capable hands.
Ensuring that electrical systems in commercial buildings are functioning efficiently and safely is of paramount importance. That's why at MTA we offer a full range of electrical services in California to help clients maintain their electrical systems and equipment. Our team of experienced technicians can perform the necessary tests and inspections to make sure everything is running smoothly.
We offer a comprehensive range of testing and inspection services, including voltage and current measurements, insulation resistance testing, ground resistance testing, and thermographic inspections. These tests are crucial in identifying potential issues before they become major problems and can help prevent downtime and costly repairs.
Our team is also equipped to perform electrical safety inspections to ensure that your building is up to code and that all safety measures are in place. We can assess your electrical panels, breakers, outlets, and wiring to ensure that they are properly installed and functioning as they should.
Contact us at MTA today to speak with our team of skilled electrical engineers and safeguard your commercial building's electrical infrastructure.