What Is A Kwh Vs Kw?
kWh and kW are two units of measurement that are commonly used when discussing electricity usage and billing. kWh stands for kilowatthour and kW stands for kilowatt. While they sound similar, these units actually measure two different aspects of electricity.
kWh measures energy consumption while kW measures power. Both are important in understanding electricity, but serve different purposes. This article will explain the difference between kWh and kW, provide examples of how each is used, and discuss how to convert between the two units.
Definitions of kWh and kW
kWh and kW are two common units used to measure energy consumption. While they sound similar, they represent distinctly different quantities.
kWh stands for kilowatthour and is a unit of energy. A kilowatthour is the amount of energy consumed if you use power at the rate of 1 kilowatt for 1 hour.
kW stands for kilowatt and is a unit of power. Power is the rate at which energy is transferred or consumed. 1 kilowatt represents 1,000 Watts of power.
So in summary:
 kWh measures energy consumption
 kW measures power or rate of energy transfer
Understanding the difference between kWh and kW is important for calculating electrical usage and costs.
kW Definition
The kW (kilowatt) is a unit of power that represents 1,000 watts. Power is the rate at which energy is transferred or converted per unit of time. So a kW is a measure of how much energy something uses or produces each second. For example, a device that uses 1,000 joules of energy per second requires 1 kW of power.
The “kilo” prefix means there are 1,000 watts in a kilowatt. The watt (W) itself is equal to 1 joule of energy transferred per second. So 1 kW = 1,000 W = 1,000 joules/second. This unit is commonly used to measure the power consumption of electrical devices and appliances, as well as the output of power plants and generators.
kWh Measures Energy
kWh stands for kilowatthour and it measures energy consumption. Specifically, it measures the amount of energy used over time. For example, if a 100watt light bulb is left on for 10 hours, it has used 1,000 watthours of energy, which equals 1 kWh.
So a kWh is a unit of measure that quantities energy usage or consumption. It can be thought of as the amount of energy required to keep a 1,000 watt appliance running for 1 hour. The “kilo” part denotes thousand, so one kWh is equal to 1,000 watthours.
When you receive your electricity bill, it will show your usage in kWh over a period of time, usually a month. The kWh usage indicates how much electric energy your home or business consumed that month.
kW Measures Power
The kW unit stands for kilowatt and it measures power, which is the rate of energy consumption at a specific moment in time. Power is an instantaneous measurement, meaning it reflects how much energy is being used or produced at any given second.
For example, if a lightbulb is rated as a 60W bulb, that means it is consuming energy at a rate of 60 watts when it is turned on. The kW unit works the same way, just at a larger scale – 1 kW equals 1000 watts. So an appliance rated at 1.5 kW is consuming 1500 watts of power when it is running.
The important distinction is that kW measures instantaneous power usage, not total energy consumption over time. The kWh unit is used to measure total energy, while kW measures the rate of energy transfer at any instant.
kWh Usage Examples
One of the most common places that kWh is used is on electricity bills. Your utility company charges you for the energy you use, measured in kWh. The more energy your home uses in a month, the higher your bill will be.
kWh is also commonly used to measure the energy consumption of appliances and devices. For example, a typical window air conditioner may use around 1,200 kWh per year. LED light bulbs use very little energy, around 1015 kWh per year. Refrigerators can use 500600 kWh per year depending on the size and model.
When purchasing new appliances, the kWh rating is useful to compare energy efficiency. The lower the kWh usage, the less electricity the appliance will consume. This helps consumers choose options that will save them money on utilities over time.
kW Usage Examples
The kilowatt (kW) rating of electric appliances and motors represents the power they consume. Here are some examples of the kW ratings of common items:
 Electric stove: 710 kW
 Electric oven: 25 kW
 Microwave oven: 12 kW
 Hair dryer: 12 kW
 Vacuum cleaner: 12 kW
 Washing machine: 0.51 kW
 Electric kettle: 1.53 kW
 Desktop computer: 0.150.5 kW
 Electric car engine: 50150 kW
The higher the kW rating, the more instantaneous power the appliance can deliver. Understanding the kW consumption of appliances helps determine the required electrical service capacity for a building.
Relationship Between kWh and kW
The key to understanding the relationship between kWh and kW is recognizing that they measure different but related aspects of electricity.
As noted above, kWh measures energy while kW measures power. More specifically:
 kWh = Electric energy consumed over time
 kW = Rate of electric energy consumption at a point in time
Mathematically, you can calculate kWh if you know the kW usage over a period of time. This is because:
kWh = kW x hours
Some examples to illustrate:
 If a device runs at 1 kW for 5 hours, it has used 5 kWh of energy.
 If an appliance draws 2 kW of power for 30 minutes (.5 hours), it has used 1 kWh of energy (2 kW x .5 hours).
 If a house uses 10 kW of power on average during a 24 hour period, it has consumed 240 kWh of energy (10 kW x 24 hours).
So in summary, kWh is a measure of total energy usage over time, calculated from the kW power draw multiplied by the number of usage hours.
Converting Between kWh and kW
kWh and kW are directly related to each other mathematically. We can convert between the two units using simple formulas.
To convert kW to kWh, multiply kW by the number of hours:
kWh = kW x hours
For example, if a device uses 5 kW of power over a 2 hour period, it has used 5 x 2 = 10 kWh of energy.
To convert kWh to kW, divide kWh by the number of hours:
kW = kWh / hours
For example, if 60 kWh of energy is used over a 15 hour period, then kW = 60 kWh / 15 hours = 4 kW.
Using these simple formulas allows easy conversion between kWh and kW units.
Summary
To recap, kWh and kW are two related but distinct units of measurement in electricity. The key differences are:

kWh measures energy consumption. It refers to the amount of electricity used over time.

kW measures power. It refers to the rate at which electricity is being used at any given moment.
So in other words, kWh is energy consumed while kW is the rate of energy flow. They are related in that power (kW) multiplied by time equals energy (kWh). By converting between the two units, you can determine energy usage based on power draw or vice versa.
Understanding the difference between kWh and kW is important for calculating electricity bills, sizing systems and components, and managing energy efficiency. Now you know the fundamental distinction between these two common electrical terms.