The ampere (/
Demonstration model of a moving iron ammeter. As the current through the coil increases, the plunger is drawn further into the coil and the pointer deflects to the right.
|Unit system||SI base unit|
|Unit of||Electric current|
|Named after||André-Marie Ampère|
The International System of Units defines the ampere in terms of other base units by measuring the electromagnetic force between electrical conductors carrying electric current. The earlier CGS measurement system had two different definitions of current, one essentially the same as the SI's and the other using electric charge as the base unit, with the unit of charge defined by measuring the force between two charged metal plates. The ampere was then defined as one coulomb of charge per second. In SI, the unit of charge, the coulomb, is defined as the charge carried by one ampere during one second.
The ampere is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the elementary charge e to be 1.602 176 634 × 10−19 when expressed in the unit C, which is equal to A s, where the second is defined in terms of ∆ν.
The SI unit of charge, the coulomb, "is the quantity of electricity carried in 1 second by a current of 1 ampere". Conversely, a current of one ampere is one coulomb of charge going past a given point per second:
In general, charge Q is determined by steady current I flowing for a time t as Q = It.
Constant, instantaneous and average current are expressed in amperes (as in "the charging current is 1.2 A") and the charge accumulated, or passed through a circuit over a period of time is expressed in coulombs (as in "the battery charge is 30000 C"). The relation of the ampere (C/s) to the coulomb is the same as that of the watt (J/s) to the joule.
The ampere was originally defined as one tenth of the unit of electric current in the centimetre–gram–second system of units. That unit, now known as the abampere, was defined as the amount of current that generates a force of two dynes per centimetre of length between two wires one centimetre apart. The size of the unit was chosen so that the units derived from it in the MKSA system would be conveniently sized.
The "international ampere" was an early realization of the ampere, defined as the current that would deposit 0.001118 grams of silver per second from a silver nitrate solution. Later, more accurate measurements revealed that this current is 0.99985 A.
Since power is defined as the product of current and voltage, the ampere can alternatively be expressed in terms of the other units using the relationship I=P/V, and thus 1 ampere equals 1 W/V. Current can be measured by a multimeter, a device that can measure electrical voltage, current, and resistance.
The standard ampere is most accurately realized using a Kibble balance, but is in practice maintained via Ohm's law from the units of electromotive force and resistance, the volt and the ohm, since the latter two can be tied to physical phenomena that are relatively easy to reproduce, the Josephson junction and the quantum Hall effect, respectively.
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The current drawn by typical constant-voltage energy distribution systems is usually dictated by the power (watt) consumed by the system and the operating voltage. For this reason the examples given below are grouped by voltage level.
CPUs – 1 V DCEdit
- Current notebook CPUs (up to 15...45 W at 1 V): up to 15...45 A
- Current high-end CPUs (up to 65...140 W at 1.15 V): up to 55...120 A
- Hearing aid (typically 1 mW at 1.4 V): 700 µA
- USB charging adapter (as power supply – typically 10 W at 5 V): 2 A
Internal combustion engine vehicles – 12 V DCEdit
A typical motor vehicle has a 12 V battery. The various accessories that are powered by the battery might include:
- Instrument panel light (typically 2 W): 166 mA
- Headlight (each, typically 60 W): 5 A
- Starter motor on a smaller car: 50 A to 200 A
North American domestic supply – 120 V ACEdit
Most Canada, Mexico and United States domestic power suppliers run at 120 V.
Household circuit breakers typically provide a maximum of 15 A or 20 A of current to a given set of outlets.
- USB charging adapter (as load – typically 10 W): 83 mA
- 22-inch/56-centimeter portable television (35 W): 290 mA
- Tungsten light bulb (60–100 W): 500–830 mA
- Toaster, kettle (1.5 kW): 12.5 A
- Hair dryer (1.8 kW): 15 A
European & Commonwealth domestic supply – 230–240 V ACEdit
Most European domestic power supplies run at 230 V, and most Commonwealth domestic power supplies run at 240 V. For the same amount of power (in watts), the current drawn by a particular European or Commonwealth appliance (in Europe or a Commonwealth country) will be less than for an equivalent North American appliance.[Note 1] Typical circuit breakers will provide 16 A.
The current drawn by a number of typical appliances are:
- Compact fluorescent lamp (11–30 W): 56–112 mA
- 22-inch/56-centimeter portable television (35 W): 145–150 mA
- Tungsten light bulb (60–100 W): 240–450 mA
- Toaster, kettle (2 kW): 9 A
- Immersion heater (4.6 kW): 19–20 A
- The formula for power is given by
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