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Demand & Consumption: Understanding Kilowatts and Kilowatt Hours

Power x Time = Energy Consumption

In order to determine your energy needs, it may be helpful to understand some related terminology. In this guide, we will define kilowatts and kilowatt hours, as well as give you examples of how this information works with our products.

Let’s start with watts. Watts measure the rate of energy used, and can be determined by dividing energy by time. If you’re working with lumens, we’ve created a guide to assist in understanding the differences.

To convert watts into kilowatts (or even larger units), refer to these equivalencies below:

  • 1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt (kW)

  • 1,000 kW = 1 megawatt (MW)

  • 1,000 MW = 1 gigawatt (GW)

Once you have this number, you can figure out your demand. For example, a 100 watt light bulb demands 100 watts from the utility. The length of time that the light is on does not factor into this, but the number of things using energy on the same grid simultaneously does. This is important when calculating the demand of your residence when installing a new energy package.

Capsells currently offers four different solar grid tie packages with capacities of 3kW, 4.8kW, 7.2kW, and 9.6kW. Understanding the demand of your household will allow you to make the best selection for your needs. Think about which appliances are running at the same time. Are you doing a load of laundry while making a pot of coffee? Watching TV while baking? Even when you’re sleeping, your refrigerator will be running and you might be charging your cell phone too.

Not sure how much energy your appliances consume? Energy.gov has a handy calculator to estimate.

Now, let’s move onto kilowatt-hours (kWh). While kilowatts measure the available energy, kilowatt-hours measure the energy that has been consumed. This is what you pay for when you buy energy from the local utility company, and can be calculated by multiplying power by time. For example, a 100 watt light on for 10 hours, “consumes” 1,000 watt-hours (watts x time) or 1 kWh of energy. Ten 100-watt light bulbs, on for 1 hour, also consume 1,000 watt-hours or 1 kWh of energy. The national average cost of kWh is $0.12, while individual states have their own calculations.

In review:

Watts = Energy/Time
Kilowatt-Hours = Power x Time