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  • Adam H. Cooke

Kilowatt? Watts? Kilowatt-Hours? What is the Difference?


Sometimes electricity can seem magical. Your house is powered by the power of wires. The lights turn on when you flip a switch, press a button, or the coffeemaker wakes up. How does it all work, you ask?


This article explains how electricity works. It covers everything from the watts required to power your lightbulbs to all the kilowatt hours of electrical energy that your utility records on each month's electric bill.


This page:

What's a Watt?

How electricity works with water

Measurement of power flow

Watts, Kilowatts and Kilowatt-hours

What electricity is like running a marathon

Get kWh and kW on your electric bill

How solar panel costs can be reduced

Your state's effect on the solar energy value

What is a Watt?


A watt (W), is one unit of electricity. A watt (W) is a unit of power. Technically, it's a measure of energy transfer equal to one joule per sec. However, since no one outside of a laboratory has ever used the term "joule", we'll keep it at "watt."


Power is voltage divided by amperage. One watt (W), equals one volt, V, and one ampere (A).


One way to look at electricity is as if it were water. Amperage refers to the flow and voltage is the pushing or pressure. Amperage can also be called current when discussing electricity.


Electricity is similar to water