Kilowatt hour  

Residential electricity meter located in Canada


Unit information  
Unit system  NonSI metric 
Unit of  Energy 
Symbol  kW⋅h 
Unit conversions  
1 kW⋅h in ...  ... is equal to ... 
SI units  3.6 MJ 
English Engineering units  2,655,224 ft·lbf 
The kilowatthour (symbol kWh,^{[1]} kW⋅h or kW h^{[2]}) is a derived unit of energy equal to 3.6 megajoules.^{[3]}^{[4]} If the energy is being transmitted or used at a constant rate (power) over a period of time, the total energy in kilowatthours is the power in kilowatts multiplied by the time in hours. The kilowatthour is commonly used as a billing unit for energy delivered to consumers by electric utilities.
The kilowatthour (symbolized kW⋅h as per SI) is a composite unit of energy equivalent to one kilowatt (1 kW) of power sustained for one hour.
One watt is equal to 1 J/s. One kilowatthour is 3.6 megajoules, which is the amount of energy converted if work is done at an average rate of one thousand watts for one hour.
The base unit of energy within the International System of Units (SI) is the joule. The hour is a unit of time "outside the SI", making the kilowatthour a nonSI unit of energy. The kilowatthour is not listed among the nonSI units accepted by the BIPM for use with the SI, although the hour, from which the kilowatthour is derived, is.^{[5]}
An electric heater rated at 1000 watts (1 kilowatt), operating for one hour uses one kilowatthour (equivalent to 3.6 megajoules) of energy. A television rated at 100 watts operating for 10 hours continuously uses one kilowatthour. A 40watt light bulb operating continuously for 25 hours uses one kilowatthour.
Electrical energy is often sold in kilowatthours. The cost of running an electric device is calculated by multiplying the device's power in kilowatts, by the running time in hours, by the price per kilowatthour. The unit price of electricity may depend upon the rate of consumption and the time of day. Industrial users may also have extra charges according to their peak usage and the power factor.
The symbol "kWh" is commonly used in commercial, educational, scientific and media publications,^{[6]} and is the usual practice in electrical power engineering.^{[7]}
Other abbreviations and symbols may be encountered:
To convert a quantity measured in a unit in the left column to the units in the top row, multiply by the factor in the cell where the row and column intersect.
joule  watthour  kilowatthour  electronvolt  calorie  

1 J = 1 kg·m^{2} s^{−2} =  1  2.77778 × 10^{−4}  2.77778 × 10^{−7}  6.241 × 10^{18}  0.239 
1 W·h =  3.6 × 10^{3}  1  0.001  2.247 × 10^{22}  859.8 
1 kW·h =  3.6 × 10^{6}  1,000  1  2.247 × 10^{25}  8.598 × 10^{5} 
1 eV =  1.602 × 10^{−19}  4.45 × 10^{−23}  4.45 × 10^{−26}  1  3.827 × 10^{−20} 
1 cal =  4.2  1.163 × 10^{−3}  1.163 × 10^{−6}  2.613 × 10^{19}  1 
All the SI prefixes are commonly applied to the watthour: a kilowatthour is 1,000 W·h (symbols kW·h, kWh or kW h; a megawatthour is 1 million W·h, (symbols MW·h, MWh or MW h); a milliwatthour is 1/1000 W·h (symbols mW·h, mWh or mW h) and so on. The kilowatthour is commonly used by electrical distribution providers for purposes of billing, since the monthly energy consumption of a typical residential customer ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand kilowatthours. Megawatthours (MWh), gigawatthours (GWh), and terawatthours (TWh) are often used for metering larger amounts of electrical energy to industrial customers and in power generation. The terawatthour and petawatthour (PWh) units are large enough to conveniently express the annual electricity generation for whole countries and the world energy consumption.
Submultiples  Multiples  

Value  Symbol  Name  Value  Symbol  Name  
10^{−3}  mW·h  milliwatthour  10^{3}  kW·h  kilowatthour  
10^{−6}  µW·h  microwatthour  10^{6}  MW·h  megawatthour  
10^{9}  GW·h  gigawatthour  
10^{12}  TW·h  terawatthour  
10^{15}  PW·h  petawatthour 
The terms power and energy are frequently confused. Power is the rate of delivery of energy. Power is work performed per unit of time. Energy is the work performed (over a period of time).
Power is measured using the unit watts, or joules per second. Energy is measured using the unit watthours, or joules.
A common household battery contains energy. When the battery delivers its energy, it does so at a certain power level, that is, the rate of delivery of the energy. The higher the power level, the quicker the battery's stored energy is delivered. If the power is higher, the battery's stored energy will be depleted in a shorter time period.
For a given period of time, a higher level of power causes more energy to be used. For a given power level, a longer run period causes more energy to be used. For a given amount of energy, a higher level of power causes that energy to be used is less time.
An electrical load (e.g. a lamp, TVset, or electric motor) has a rated power, which is usually measured in watts. This is its running power level, which equates to the instantaneous rate at which energy must be generated and consumed to run the device. The amount of energy that is consumed (at that rate) depends on how long the device is operated. However, its power requirement is constant while running. The unit of energy used for residential electrical billing, the kilowatthour, shows the cumulative amount of electrical energy used during the billing period, regardless of the power drawn at any moment during the billing period.
For another example, when a light bulb with a power rating of 100 watts is turned on for one hour, the energy used is 100 watthours (W·h), which is equal to 0.1 kilowatthours. This same amount of energy would light a 50watt bulb for 2 hours, a 40watt bulb for 2.5 hours, or a 10watt bulb for 10 hours. A power station's electricity output at any particular moment would be measured in multiples of watts, but its annual energy sales would be in multiples of watthours. A kilowatthour is the amount of energy equivalent to a steady power of 1 kilowatt running for 1 hour, or 3.6 megajoules.
Energy cost can be illustrated in a similar example: a 100watt (i.e. 0.1 kilowatt) light bulb turned on for 8 hours uses 800 W⋅h or 0.8 kW⋅h. If the energy cost is 25 cents per kilowatthour, it would cost 0.1 kW × 8 h × $0.25/kW⋅h = $0.20.
Whereas individual homes only pay for the kilowatthours consumed, commercial buildings and institutions also pay for peak power consumption, the greatest power recorded in a fairly short time, such as 15 minutes. This compensates the power company for maintaining the infrastructure needed to provide peak power. These charges are billed as demand charges.^{[12]}
Major energy production or consumption is often expressed as terawatthours (TW⋅h) for a given period that is often a calendar year or financial year. One terawatthour is equal to a sustained power of approximately 114 megawatts for a period of one year.
Power units measure the rate of energy per unit time. Many compound units for rates explicitly mention units of time, for example, miles per hour, kilometers per hour, dollars per hour. Kilowatthours are a product of power and time, not a rate of change of power with time. Watts per hour (W/h) is a unit of a change of power per hour. It might be used to characterize the rampup behavior of power plants. For example, a power plant that reaches a power output of 1 MW from 0 MW in 15 minutes has a rampup rate of 4 MW/h. Hydroelectric power plants have a very high rampup rate, which makes them particularly useful in peak load and emergency situations.
The proper use of terms such as watts per hour is uncommon, whereas misuse^{[13]} may be widespread.
Several other units are commonly used to indicate power or energy capacity or use in specific application areas.
Average annual power production or consumption can be expressed in kilowatthours per year; for example, when comparing the energy efficiency of household appliances whose power consumption varies with time or the season of the year, or the energy produced by a distributed power source. One kilowatthour per year equals about 114.08 milliwatts applied constantly during one year.
The energy content of a battery is usually expressed indirectly by its capacity in amperehours; to convert watthours (W·h) to ampere hour (A·h), the watthour value must be divided by the voltage of the power source. This value is approximate, since the voltage is not constant during discharge of a battery, and because higher discharge rates reduce the total amount of energy the battery can provide. In the case of devices that output a different voltage than the battery, it is the battery voltage (typically 3.7 for Liion) that must be used to calculate rather than the device output (usually 5.0 for USB portable chargers), since use of the lower figure allows manufacturers of such devices to overstate the capacity or runtime, inflating it by 35% ( ^{5}⁄_{3.7}=1.35). This results in a 500mA USB device running for only about 3.7 hours on a 2500mAh battery, rather than the expected five hours.
The Board of Trade unit (BOTU) is an obsolete UK synonym for kilowatthour. The term derives from the name of the Board of Trade which regulated the electricity industry until 1942 when the Ministry of Power took over.^{[14]} The B.O.T.U. should not be confused with the British thermal unit or BTU, which is a much smaller quantity of thermal energy.
A TNT equivalent is a measure of energy released in the detonation of trinitrotoluene. A tonne of TNT equivalent is approximately 4.184 gigajoules or 1,163 kilowatthours.
A tonne of oil equivalent is the amount of energy released by burning one tonne of crude oil. It is approximately 41.84 gigajoules or 11,630 kilowatthours.
In India, the kilowatthour is often simply called a Unit of energy. A million units, designated MU, is a gigawatthour and a BU (billion units) is a terawatthour.^{[15]}^{[16]}
Burnup of nuclear fuel is normally quoted in megawatt days per tonne (MW·d/MTU), where tonne refers to a metric ton of uranium metal or its equivalent, and megawatt refers to the entire thermal output, not the fraction which is converted to electricity.^{[citation needed]}
Reference [4: ISO 310] suggests that if a space is used to indicate units formed by multiplication, the space may be omitted if it does not cause confusion. This possibility is reflected in the common practice of using the symbol kWh rather than kW ⋅ h or kW h for the kilowatthour. Nevertheless, this Guide takes the position that a halfhigh dot or a space should always be used to avoid possible confusion;