Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Power and Energy

Figure from experiment 14 from Renewable Energy with Vernier


People often use the words power and energy interchangeably, when in fact these two words mean very different things.

Imagine if people used the words “kilometers per hour” and “kilometers” interchangeably. That would be very confusing! It might sound like this: “How fast can you ride your bike?” “About 5 kilometers.” This is basically what we are doing if we use power and energy to mean the same thing.

Power is a rate–just like meters per second, miles per hour, or gallons per minute are rates. Power is the rate at which work is done and can be calculated using the equation

\text{power} = \frac{\text{amount of work done}}{\text{how much time it takes}}

The base unit of power is the watt (W), which is equal to one joule per second (1 W = 1 J/s).

We can think of energy, on the other hand, as a quantity–just like gallons or meters are quantities. Energy refers to the quantity of work performed. The base unit of energy is the joule (J). If you know power and length of time, you can calculate energy by rearranging the power expression in the following way:

\text{amount of work done} = \text{power} \times \text{how much time it takes}

In this experiment, you will explore power and energy. You will learn how power and energy are related to each other. You will use this knowledge and the data-collection software to measure the power and calculate the amount of electrical energy generated by a small wind turbine.


  • Understand the difference between power and energy and the common units used for each.
  • Calculate the amount of electrical energy generated by a wind turbine over time.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Experiment 14 from Renewable Energy with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Renewable Energy with Vernier</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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