Watt vs. Kilowatt: What’s the Difference?

Before delving into the complexities of watt vs. kilowatt, it is essential to first understand the basics.

Do you know what a Watt is?

One watt is a unit of energy that equates to one joule per second. Put simply, power can be defined as the energy usage rate at which work is done or energy gets used – you could even refer it to having “the ability to do work”, whether this involves creating electricity or using up electricity.

When you’re shopping around for appliances, you might come across a wattage descriptor. This term is associated with the power ratings of particular devices such as light bulbs, dishwashers and TVs. To find out what your appliance’s wattage rating is, simply check out its technical specifications or user manual. Additionally, almost all products have their watts displayed on labels too!

For instance, you might come across a 100-watt light bulb or a 1,500 W dishwasher. This implies that the lightbulb can only utilize 100W of power in an instant whereas the dishwasher is equipped to draw on up to 1,500W at one time.

An easy way to comprehend this is by imagining a faucet or hose. Wattage would represent the pressure of the nozzle instead of how much water streams out of it. Our 100 W lightbulb, therefore, has very feeble water pressure. 

You probably don’t come across energy usage unites smaller than Watts in day-to-day life, but if you needed to measure something bigger, here are the subsequent levels:

  • Gigawatts (1,000,000,000 watts)
  • Megawatts (1,000,000 watts)
  • Kilowatts (1,000 watts)

Definition of Kilowatt?

Kilowatts (kW) are the predominant unit of measurement when defining how much energy usage is done by an appliance or electrical device. Equal to 1,000 Watts (W), kW is often used for larger capacity measurements than We can provide alone. By utilizing kW and other associated units, we have a better understanding of how powerful machines really are!

To be more precise, when discussing the energy consumption by a single lightbulb, you’d typically use watts as your unit of measurement. However, if you’re referring to an array of 40 solar panels, kW becomes much more helpful in order to avoid getting lost in too many zeroes. You’ve likely seen this usage in practice solar systems often described using kW instead of 10 000 watts – after all it’s much simpler and easier!

Instead of saying 40 solar panels with a total wattage of 14,000 W (40 x 350 W = 14,000 W), why not make things easier and simply call it 14 kW?

If you are discussing the solar power of a solar farm, commercial solar project or large power plant, megawatts might be the ideal means to do so. For perspective, some of the biggest sun powered ranches on earth reach up to 2 gigawatts (GW).

How to Convert Watts into Larger Power Measurements

Transforming watts (W) to kilowatts (kW), megawatts (MW) and gigawatts (GW) is a cinch! Divvy up your wattage by 1,000 for an immediate conversion that could not be easier.

Watts Kilowatts
100,000 W   100 kW
10,000 W   10 kW
1,000 W   1 kW

Quickly convert kilowatts (kW) to megawatts (MW) by simply dividing the number of kW you want to convert by 1,000.

Kilowatts Megawatts
100,000 kW     100 MW
10,000 kW     10 MW
1,000 kW     1 MW 

It’s easy to see that megawatts can be converted into gigawatts – all you need is a little math! One thousand megawatts equal one gigawatt, so converting MW to GW simply requires dividing the former by 1,000.

Megawatts Gigawatts
100,000 MW 100 GW
10,000 MW 10 GW
1000 MW 1 GW

Do You Know What Kilowatt-Hour (kWh) Is?

Whereas watts (W) and kilowatts (kW) stand for measurements of power, kilowatt-hours (kWh) symbolize units of electrical energy.

An essential distinction between kW and kWh is that a kilowatt-hour of energy signifies the whole amount of electricity utilized over an interval. Whereas, kilowatts refer to the velocity at which any device can construct or expend electrical power.

To stay with our hose reference — kW symbolizes the potential water pressure of a garden tool. Kilowatt-hours would measure how much water is used by a single hose in an hour’s time. The higher the power (or kW), then more H2O will be consumed per 60 minutes.

To be more exact, a kilowatt-hour (kWh) measures the energy expended by an electrical appliance that uses either 1,000 watts (W) or one kilowatt (kW) of power for sixty minutes. The higher its wattage is, the greater amount of kWh it needs to remain running over time.

For instance, if you left your 100 W TV turned on for an hour straight, it would consume 100 watt-hours (Wh) or 0.1 kWh of energy. To get a better understanding of how much electricity other usual appliances use in an hour’s time frame, let’s take a look at the following examples: 

Here’s the formula: (W ÷ 1,000 kW) × 1 hour.

  • 2,000 W air conditioner = 2 kWh in an hour
  • 1,500 W dishwasher = 1.5 kWh in an hour
  • 1,000 W Space heater = 1 kWh in an hour
  • 2,000 W Lightbulb = 0.1 kWh in an hour

How about 10 hours? The equation would be (W / 1,000 kW) multiplied by 10 hours.

  • 2,000 W air Conditioner = 20 kWh in 10 hours
  • 1,500 W dishwasher = 15 kWh in 10 hours
  • 1,000 W Space heater = 10 kWh in 10 hours
  • 100 W Lightbulb = 1 kWh in 10 hours

Does this make sense so far?

Converting between kilowatt-hours (kWh), watts, and kilowatts is a straightforward process. In particular:

  • Gigawatt-hours (GWh)
  • Megawatt-hours (MWh)
  • Watt-hours (Wh)  

Have you ever wondered why Watts (W), Kilowatts (kW) and Kilowatt-Hours (kWh) are so important?

Let’s cut to the chase and discuss why it matters; your energy bill is a direct reflection of how much energy has been consumed in your residence over that month. The organization supplying you with power will have an established rate for each kWh used.

On average, energy consumption of a households is approximately 900 kWh of electricity per month. If you are paying the industry standard rate of 13 cents/kWh, then your monthly energy bill will likely be around $117 (900 x 0.13).

If saving energy is your goal, it’s crucial to understand which appliances in your home use the most electricity. That way, you can decide which devices to use less often or upgrade to more efficient models.

Did you know that dryers can consume up to 5,000 W of electricity? Let’s do the math and figure out how much this would set you back every month if your dryer is running for one hour a day.

$20 x 12 months = $240 per year

150 kWh x $0.13 = $20 per month

5 kWh x 30 days = 150 kWh

5,000 W dryer = 5 kWh in an hour

Would $240 a year make a dent in your wallet? Opt for an energy-efficient dryer or drying rack to save money while keeping those clothes clean!

By grasping the meaning of W, kW and kWh, homeowners can be empowered to make decisions that will help minimize their total electricity consumption.

The main difference between watts, kilowatts and kilowatt-hours is that the latter (kWh) measure the amount of energy consumed over a set period. Although 1 kW equals to 1000 W, understanding how much energy is expended by every appliance in your home can have significant consequences on your energy bill.


What is the difference between watts, kilowatts and kilowatt-hours?
Watts measure electrical power, kilowatts measure how much energy an appliance will consume over time, while kilowatt-hours measure the total amount of energy used in one hour.

How do I calculate the electricity usage of my appliances?
To calculate the amount of energy used by an appliance, simply divide its wattage (W) by 1000 to get the kilowatts (kW). Then multiply this number by the number of hours it will be running. The answer is your kWh consumption.

How can I lower the energy bill in my home?
To minimize your total electricity bill, look for energy-efficient solutions such as LED lightbulbs, efficient air conditioners, and other appliances with a low wattage rating. Additionally, you can also keep track of how much energy your devices are consuming to help you make smarter financial decisions.

What is the equation for converting watts to kilowatts?
To convert watts (W) to kilowatts (kW), divide the wattage by 1000. For example, a 60 W lightbulb would be 0.06 kW. The same principle applies when converting from kWh to kW. Just divide the kWh by the number of hours. For example, one kilowatt hour in 10 hours would be 0.1 kW.

Related article: 6 kW Solar Panel System – Cost, Output and Installation Guide

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