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Watt

Measurement unit for electric power consumption.

The watt (symbol: W) is a unit of power. In the International System of Units (SI) it is defined as a derived unit of 1 joule per second, and is used to quantify the rate of energy transfer. In dimensional analysis, power is described by M L 2 T − 3 {\displaystyle {\mathsf {M}}{\mathsf {L}}^{2}{\mathsf {T}}^{-3}} {\displaystyle {\mathsf {M}}{\mathsf {L}}^{2}{\mathsf {T}}^{-3}}.

The watt is named after the Scottish inventor James Watt. This unit was proposed initially by C. William Siemens in August 1882 in his President's Address to the Fifty-Second Congress of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Noting that units in the practical system of units were named after leading physicists, Siemens proposed that Watt might be an appropriate name for a unit of power. Siemens defined the unit consistently within the then-existing system of practical units as "the power conveyed by a current of an Ampère through the difference of potential of a Volt."

In October 1908, at the International Conference on Electric Units and Standards in London, so-called "international" definitions were established for practical electrical units. Siemens' definition was adopted as the "international" watt. (Also used: 1 ampere2 x 1 ohm.) The watt was defined as equal to 107 units of power in the "practical system" of units. The "international units" were dominant from 1909 until 1948. After the 9th General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1948, the "international" watt was redefined from practical units to absolute units (i.e., using only length, mass, and time). Concretely, this meant that 1 watt was now defined as the quantity of energy transferred in a unit of time, namely 1 J/s. In this new definition, 1 "absolute" watt = 1.00019 "international" watts. Texts written before 1948 are likely to be using the "international" watt, which implies caution when comparing numerical values from this period with the post-1948 watt. In 1960 the 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures adopted the "absolute" watt into the International System of Units (SI) as the unit of power.

Key Terms

definition
general conference weights
international system units
power
si
siemens
unit
unit power
units
watt

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Acronymn

W

Synonymns

Watt
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Last modified on December 13 2019
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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