Kilo Watt teaches you about energy

We live in a world that is electrically charged! From the static shock you get when rubbing the carpet and touching a metal doorknob to the lightning that flashes outside your window on a stormy afternoon, electricity is all around you.

What exactly is electricity, you ask? It is the movement of tiny atomic particles called electrons – which are so small they are invisible to the naked eye. As these tiny particles move, they create the energy we see in static shock, lightning storms, and a glowing lightbulb when we flip the switch.

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Power Plants

Explore how power plants work.Power plants typically heat water until it turns into steam. The steam expands, like in a teakettle. The force of the steam moves big fan blades (in a turbine) that connect to a shaft that then turns a device called a generator. The generator is what "generates" the electricity. It has magnets in it that spin around. The magnets make electrons jump across coils of copper wire. Electron jumping is essentially what we call electricity.

Click here for more on how plants work.

Power Grid

Explore the network of wires.The network of wires and power plants is called the power grid. Power companies are responsible for keeping the grid charged with electricity. Georgia Power must push enough electricity into the wires to ensure it will reach every customer. The amount of electricity in the lines must be kept at a constant level to give appliances and equipment enough power, but not too much of it. Either would damage devices connected to the grid.

Frequently Asked Questions About Power Circuits

Voltage

Explore high voltage electricityTo move electricity to homes, we channel the electricity over transmission wires. We measure the electrical travel on the lines in a unit called a volt. Transmission wires operate at high voltages – up to 500,000 volts – to go long distances. Since the electrical system in your home uses a pressure of 110 volts, the traveling electricity must be "stepped down" before it comes into your home. The process of stepping up electricity for travel, or down for use, is accomplished by devices called transformers. To find the transformers in your neighborhood, look for a place where the wires come together in a big fenced area that has lots of metal boxes with squiggly horns coming out of them.

Measuring Electricity

Learn how to measure electricity.Measuring electricity usage is more complicated than measuring the fuel used in things like cars. Cars consume (combust or burn) energy in easily measurable units – gallons of gas – which can be stored and sold by volume or weight. On the other hand, electricity actually passes through electrical appliances (and out of them) in a loop (or circuit). If you have no electrical devices switched on in your house, very little power passes through the circuit. As appliances and equipment are switched on, the current must pass through the home to drive them. This current running through the house is measured in kilowatt-hours.

Kilowatt-Hours

What is a kilowatt-hourA kilowatt-hour is an amount of force (1,000 watts) passing through a gateway (your meter) over a period of time (an hour). A 100-watt light bulb turned on for 10 hours uses 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity. Or, a 10-watt night-light could be on for 100 hours before using a kilowatt-hour of electricity.

Ways to Use Electricity

Learn how to use electricity.

Stoves and heaters use the heat caused by resistance to current in a metal element, to provide warmth.

Light bulbs have filaments that glow when resisting current, providing light.

Appliances use resistance to charge magnets that can spin a shaft in a motor and power a variety of gears, wheels or blades.

Speakers use resistance to convert electric current into pressure that moves air and makes sound waves.

Batteries use chemical resistance to store electricity for later use.

Electrical Demand

Energy is created for immediate use.

The energy made by power plants is for immediate use. Power plants cannot store or stockpile electricity; they must constantly make it. For this reason, electric demand must be well-anticipated. Power companies are always watching weather conditions and typical usage patterns to make exactly enough power to serve everyone all of the time.

If a bad storm topples transmission lines or interrupts power generation, some people will immediately be without electricity. Others will temporarily use stored power from batteries, or generate power with their own small fuel-powered generators. But eventually, alternative power sources run out and repairs must be made. Power companies have large crews of workers to restore power lines and generators quickly.

  1. Captain Cautious

    Line Crew - Builds lines so that electricity can get to houses, businesses, schools and hospitals. People who like working outside and building things with their hands really like these jobs.

    Captain Cautious knows a lot about energy!
  2. Dr. E

    Dr. E
  3. Emerald

    Emerald
  4. Savvy and Squander

    Savvy and Squander
  5. Louie

    When you grow up, we can teach you how to be a line worker, plant technician or an engineer.

    However, there are other things you will need to learn along the way: How to get along with others, teamwork, following instructions, telling the truth, completing your work on time and doing a great job on all your work.

    Louie the lightbulb.