Orders of magnitude (power)
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This page lists examples of the power in watts produced by various sources of energy. They are grouped by orders of magnitude, and each section covers three orders of magnitude, or a factor of one thousand.
Below 1 watt 
yoctowatt (10−24 watt) 
zeptowatt (10−21 watt) 
- ~10 zW – tech: approximate power of Galileo space probe's radio signal (when at Jupiter) as received on earth by a 70-meter DSN antenna.
attowatt (10−18 watt) 
- 1 aW – phys: approximate power scale at which operation of nanoelectromechanical systems are overwhelmed by thermal fluctuations.
- 100 aW – tech: the GPS signal strength measured at the surface of the Earth,[clarification needed] roughly equivalent to viewing a 25-watt light bulb from a distance of 10,000 miles.
femtowatt (10−15 watt) 
- 2.5 fW – tech: minimum discernible signal at the antenna terminal of a good FM radio receiver
- 10 fW (−110 dBm) – tech: approximate lower limit of power reception on digital spread-spectrum cell phones
picowatt (10−12 watt) 
- 1 pW (−90 dBm) – biomed: average power consumption of a human cell
- 18.4 pW – phys: power lost in the form of synchrotron radiation by a proton revolving in the Large Hadron Collider at 7000 GeV
- 150 pW – biomed: power entering a human eye from a 100-watt lamp 1 km away
nanowatt (10−9 watt) 
- 2–15 nW – tech: power consumption of 8-bit PIC microcontroller chips when in "sleep" mode
microwatt (10−6 watt) 
- 1 µW (−30 dBm) – tech: approximate consumption of a quartz or mechanical wristwatch
- 3 µW – astro: cosmic microwave background radiation per square meter
milliwatt (10−3 watt) 
- 5 mW – tech: laser in a CD-ROM drive
- 5–10 mW – tech: laser in a DVD player
- 70 mW – tech: antenna power in a typical consumer wireless router
Between 1 and 1000 watts 
- 4 W – tech: the power consumption of an incandescent night light
- 4 W – legal: maximum allowed carrier power output of a CB
- 8 W – tech: human-powered equipment using a hand crank.
- 14 W – tech: the power consumption of a typical household compact fluorescent light bulb
- 20–40 W – biomed: approximate power consumption of the human brain
- 30–40 W – tech: the power consumption of a typical household fluorescent tube light
- 60 W – tech: the power consumption of a typical household incandescent light bulb
- 100 W – biomed: approximate basal metabolic rate of an adult human body
- 120 W – tech: electric power output of 1 m2 solar panel in full sunlight (approx. 12% efficiency), at sea level
- 130 W – tech: peak power consumption of a Pentium 4 CPU
- 200 W – tech: stationary bicycle average power output
- 290 W – units: approximately 1000 BTU/hour
- 300–400 W – tech: PC GPU Nvidia Geforce Fermi 480 peak power consumption
- 400 W – tech: legal limit of power output of an amateur radio station in the United Kingdom
- 500 W – biomed: power output (useful work plus heat) of a person working hard physically
- 745.7 W – units: 1 horsepower
- 750 W – astro: approximately the amount of sunshine falling on a square metre of the Earth's surface at noon on a clear day in March for northern temperate latitudes
- 909 W – biomed: peak output power of a healthy human (nonathlete) during a 30-second cycle sprint at 30.1 degree Celsius.
Above 1000 watts 
kilowatt (103 watts) 
- 1 kW to 3 kW – tech: heat output of a domestic electric kettle
- 1.1 kW – tech: power of a microwave oven
- 1.366 kW – astro: power per square metre received from the Sun at the Earth's orbit
- 1.5 kW – tech: legal limit of power output of an amateur radio station in the United States
- up to 2 kW – biomed: approximate short-time power output of sprinting professional cyclists and weightlifters doing snatch
- 2.4 kW (21,283 kWh/year) – geo: average power consumption per person worldwide in 2008
- 3.3–6.6 kW – eco: average photosynthetic power output per square kilometer of ocean
- 3.6 kW – tech: synchrotron radiation power lost per ring in the Large Hadron Collider at 7000 GeV
- 10 kW to 50 kW – tech: nominal power of clear channel AM
- 10.0 kW (87,216 kWh/year) – eco: average power consumption per person in the United States in 2008
- 16–32 kW – eco: average photosynthetic power output per square kilometer of land
- 30 kW – tech:' 'power generated by the four motors of GEN H-4 one-man helicopter
- 40 kW to 200 kW – tech: approximate range of power output of typical automobiles
- 50 kW to 100 kW – tech: highest allowed ERP for an FM band radio station in the United States
- 167 kW – tech: power consumption of UNIVAC 1 computer
- 250 kW to 800 kW – tech: approximate range of power output of 'supercars'
- 450 kW – tech: approximate maximum power output of a large 18-wheeler truck engine
megawatt (106 watts) 
- 1.3 MW – tech: power output of P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft
- 1.5 MW – tech: peak power output of GE's standard wind turbine
- 2.4 MW – tech: peak power output of a Princess Coronation class steam locomotive (approx 3.3K EDHP on test) (1937)
- 2.5 MW – biomed: peak power output of a blue whale
- 3 MW – tech: mechanical power output of a diesel locomotive
- 10 MW – tech: highest ERP allowed for an UHF television station
- 10.3 MW – geo: electrical power output of Togo
- 12.2 MW – tech: approx power available to a Eurostar 20-carriage train
- 16 MW – tech: rate at which a typical gasoline pump transfers chemical energy to a vehicle
- 17 to 80 MW – tech: approximate maximum power output of a Nd:YAG laser used in Particle Image Velocimetry (100mJ over 6ns to 400mJ over 5ns, both at 532 nm)
- 26 MW – tech: peak power output of the reactor of a Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine
- 75 MW – tech: maximum power output of one GE90 jet engine as installed on the Boeing 777
- 140 MW – tech: average power consumption of a Boeing 747 passenger aircraft
- 190 MW – tech: peak power output of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier
- 900 MW – tech: electric power output of a CANDU nuclear reactor
- 959 MW – geo: average electrical power consumption of Zimbabwe in 1998
The productive capacity of electrical generators operated by utility companies is often measured in MW. Few things can sustain the transfer or consumption of energy on this scale; some of these events or entities include: lightning strikes, naval craft (such as aircraft carriers and submarines), engineering hardware, and some scientific research equipment (such as supercolliders and large lasers).
For reference, about 10,000 100-watt lightbulbs or 5,000 computer systems would be needed to draw 1 megawatt. Also, 1 MW equals approximately 1360 horsepower. Modern high-powered diesel-electric railroad locomotives typically have a peak power output of 3–5 MW, whereas a typical modern nuclear power plant produces on the order of 500–2000 MW peak output.
gigawatt (109 watts) 
- 1.3 GW – tech: electric power output of Manitoba Hydro Limestone hydroelectric generating station
- 2.074 GW – tech: peak power generation of Hoover Dam
- 2.1 GW – tech: peak power generation of Aswan Dam
- 4.116 GW – tech: installed capacity of Kendal Power Station, the world's largest coal-fired power plant.
- 8.21 GW – tech: capacity of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, the world's largest nuclear power plant.
- 11.7 GW – tech: power produced by the Space Shuttle in liftoff configuration (9.875 GW from the SRBs; 1.9875 GW from the SSMEs.)
- 12.6 GW – tech: electrical power generation of the Itaipu Dam
- 12.7 GW – geo: average electrical power consumption of Norway in 1998
- 18.3 GW – tech: peak electrical power generation of the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric power plant of any type.
- 55 GW – tech: peak daily electrical power consumption of Great Britain in November 2008.
- 74 GW – tech: total installed wind turbine capacity at end of 2006.
- 101.6 GW – tech: peak electrical power consumption of France (Feb 08 2012 at 7:00PM)
- 190 GW – tech: average power consumption of the first stage of the Saturn V rocket
terawatt (1012 watts) 
- 2 TW – astro: approximate power generated between the surfaces of Jupiter and its moon Io due to Jupiter's tremendous magnetic field.
- 3.34 TW – geo: average total (gas, electricity, etc.) power consumption of the US in 2005
- 16 TW – geo: average total power consumption of the human world in 2010
- 44 TW – geo: average total heat flux from Earth's interior
- 75 TW – eco: global net primary production (= biomass production) via photosynthesis
- 50 to 200 TW – weather: rate of heat energy release by a hurricane
- 290 TW – tech: the power the Z machine reaches in 1 billionth of a second when it is fired
- 300 TW – tech: power reached by the extremely high-power Hercules laser from the University of Michigan.
petawatt (1015 watts) 
- 1.1 PW – tech: world's most powerful laser pulses by laser still in operation (claimed on March 31, 2008 by Texas Center for High Intensity Laser Science at The University of Texas at Austin).
- 1.25 PW – tech: world's most powerful laser pulses (claimed on May 23, 1996 by Lawrence Livermore Laboratory).
- 1.4 PW – geo: estimated heat flux transported by the Gulf Stream.
- 4 PW – geo: estimated total heat flux transported by Earth's atmosphere and oceans away from the equator towards the poles.
- 10–100 PW geo: estimated total power output of a Type-I civilization on the Kardashev scale.
- 174.0 PW – astro: total power received by Earth from the Sun
- 200 PW – tech: Extreme Light Infrastructure laser
exawatt (1018 watts) 
zettawatt (1021 watts) 
yottawatt (1024 watts) 
- 33.8 YW – tech: peak power output of the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever built.
- 10-100 YW – geo: estimated total power output of a Type-II civilization on the Kardashev scale.
- 384.6 YW – astro: luminosity of the Sun
Greater than one thousand yottawatts 
- 3.31 × 1031W – astro: approximate luminosity of Beta Centauri
- 1.23 × 1032W – astro: approximate luminosity of Deneb
- 5 × 1036W – astro: approximate luminosity of the Milky Way galaxy.
- 1 × 1040W – astro: approximate luminosity of a quasar
- 1 × 1042W – astro: approximate luminosity of the Local Supercluster
- 1 × 1045W – astro: approximate luminosity of a gamma-ray burst
- 2 × 1049W – astro: approximate total luminosity of all the stars in the observable universe
- 3.63 × 1052W – phys: The Planck power, the basic unit of power in the Planck units.
- 3.06 x10120W - phys: The power of the quantum black hole singularity before the big bang
- 3.489 x10286W- phys: approximate power density of the gamma factor at the inner horizon of a black hole the size of the universe
See also 
- Orders of magnitude (voltage)
- World energy resources and consumption
- International System of Units (SI)
- SI prefix
- "Nanoelectromechanical systems face the future". Physics World. February 1, 2001.
- article was originally published as Los Alamos research paper LAUR-03-6163. December 2003.
- CERN. Beam Parameters and Definitions". Table 2.2. Retrieved September 13, 2008
- dtic.mil - harvesting energy with hand-crank generators to support dismounted soldier missions, 2004-12-xx
- http://www.gearypacific.com/ComfortZone/14%20The%20People%20Load.pdf[dead link]
- alternative-energy-news.info - The Pedal-A-Watt Stationary Bicycle Generator, 2010-01-11
- econvergence.net - The Pedal-A-Watt Bicycle Generator Stand Buy one or build with detailed plans., 2012
- "GeForce GTX 480 Tortured by FurMark: 300W and Earplugs Required!". Geeks3D.com. March 28, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
- Ball, D; Burrows C, Sargeant AJ (1999 March). "Human power output during repeated sprint cycle exercise: the influence of thermal stress.". Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 79 (4): 360–6. PMID 10090637.
- National Grid electricity consumption statistics
- World Wind Energy Association Statistics (PDF).
-  – Nasa: Listening to shortwave radio signals from Jupiter
- U.S energy consumption by source, 1949–2005, Energy Information Administration accessed May 25, 2007
- Dumé, Belle (July 27, 2005). "Geoneutrinos make their debut". Physics World. "Figure 1 Radiogenic heat in the Earth"