Pat,

Using a water analogy, think of an electrical system as plumbing in your house or MH. The size of the wire is equivalent to the size (inside diameter) of a pipe. Therefore, a small wire (pipe) cannot flow as much electricity (water) as a larger one. This flow rate is called Amperes, or simply amps. The water pressure determines how strong the flow is, and this is measured in Volts. Sometimes you can open a faucet and the water spurts out with great force. That's because the pressure (volts) is high. Other times, you get barely a dribble; pressure (volts) is low. The other factor is power, and is measured in Watts. Power (watts) is a measure of how much total electricity is flowing at any given instant and, as Ned said, is simply P=E x I where P=Watts, E=volts, and I=amps.

Appliances are designed to work within a specific range of volts - usually from 110 to 125 volts, or in the case of an electric range, from 220 to 240 volts. Let's use a toaster for an example. If it's rated to use 1000 watts of power at 120 volts, you can plug these figures into our equation and see that it will draw 8 1/3 amps. Now let's say the voltage at your site is only 105 volts. Your power usage will drop to 875 watts. Great, you say; I'm using less electricity!! Well, yes you are, but you're also not getting as much 'work' done. Because your voltage is so low, the heating element in the toaster willl barely glow, and it may take twice as long to make a slice of toast! That's why microwave ovens cook slower, air conditioners don't cool as well, lights appear dim, and (some) t.v. pictures shrink. Low voltage.