As master electricians serving Calgary, Okotoks, and the Foothills, we always try to explain what we’re doing in terms you can understand. 

But knowing some basic electrical terminology can make your life so much easier, especially when buying new appliances or considering an electrical panel upgrade. This short blog will give a quick primer on four essential terms used by electricians: amps, watts, volts, and ohms.

image of Exquisite Electric's Tagline At Your Service with a Gold and Black Bell

Have you ever heard of electricity being measured in amps, watts, volts, or ohms and wondered what it all meant? 

Understanding the differences between these terms can help you understand the electrical components of your home better and make more informed decisions when it comes to electrical work, buying appliances, and whether or not it’s time to call a qualified Calgary or Okotoks electrician to upgrade your electrical panel. 

So, let’s take a look at each term and its meaning. 


Amps (A) – Amps or amperage measures the amount of electrical current flowing through a circuit. 

Knowing device amperage is important because too much current can cause damage to your electronics and may even start a fire.

When purchasing new light fixtures or appliances, it is important to check the label to ensure that they are rated for the amount of current running through them, even if you are hiring a qualified Okotoks or Calgary electrician to complete your installation. 

Amperage is also essential when considering your home’s electrical panel and if it needs to be replaced or upgraded.

Most modern homes have a 100 amp panel, the total load your electrical panel can handle. If you exceed your panel’s amperage, you may begin to experience tripping breakers, flickering lights, and other electrical ghosts (👻). 

Please read our blog on panel replacement HERE, or call us for your free, no-obligation service quote.

What size electrical panek do you need?

Watts (W) – Watts measure power, calculated by multiplying voltage by amps (VxA=W).

Knowing how much power an appliance uses can help you decide whether it’s worth investing in energy-efficient appliances that use less electricity.

It can also help you determine how many circuits are needed for large appliances like freezers, ovens, air conditioners, etc., as they tend to use more power than smaller items such as phones or lamps. 

For example, if your appliance runs on 120V and draws 10A, it uses 1200 watts per hour when turned on (120 x 10 = 1200). This means that running an appliance for one hour consumes 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity (kWh) which is equal to 1000 watts per hour (1 kWh = 1000 Wh). 

Image of a Kitchen and Living room in a Complete Home Rebuild by Exquisite Electric

Volts (V) – Volts measure the force with which electricity flows through a circuit, often called “electrical pressure.”

The higher the voltage, the more powerful the current can be. 

High voltage circuits require special safety precautions due to their potential hazard if mishandled.

Most household electricity operates on 120 volts, while some appliances require 240 volts, such as electric stoves and dryers. Higher voltage devices (like appliances) often have a dedicated circuit. 

But be aware: high-voltage devices NOT on a dedicated circuit may cause your breakers to trip and increase the risk of electrical fires.

Ohms (Ω) – Ohms measure resistance, which is how difficult it is for electricity to flow through a component or material.

The higher the voltage, the more powerful the current can be. 

Low-resistance materials allow electricity to easily pass through them, while high-resistance materials impede its flow. 

Knowing this information can help electricians decide on wiring materials that are safe and suitable for your application and needs. This is the case in homes built with outdated aluminum wiring, which can significantly increase the risk of electrical fires and your ability to get home insurance.

Click HERE to visit our aluminum wiring page.


Whether you’re looking into energy-saving appliances or considering replacing your electrical panel or old outlet in your house, understanding amps, watts, volts, and ohms will give you a better understanding of electrical components and principles so that you can make informed decisions about your home’s electrical system. 

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to safely and confidently make appliance purchases and calculate the load on your electrical panel!

Of course, as Calgary and Okotoks’ best master electricians (in our opinion), you can call us if you have questions about the energy use in your home or business or if you’re unsure if you need to upgrade your electrical panel.

With over 30-combined years of expertise in both home & residential AND business & commercial electrical service… we’re At Your Service!


Contact us with all of your home and business electrical questions. Because we’re YOUR local Red Seal, Master Electricians, working hard to become the best electricians in southern Alberta!

Renos, upgrades, automation, solar panels, 24/7 emergency, lighting…whatever your electrical needs, get in touch today!

We’re proud to serve you as your preferred electricians, Calgary, Okotoks, and the Foothills area.


*Exquisite Electric works together with qualified solar panel installers so you can access and start using the sun’s energy at home or in your business.


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