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What is the difference between watt and kilowatt-hour

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A watt-hour (Wh) is a unit of energy; it’s a way to measure the amount of work performed or generated. Household appliances and other electrical devices perform “work” and that requires energy in the form of electricity. Utilities typically charge you for electrical energy by the kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is equal to 1,000 watt-hours. Depending on your interconnection agreement, your utility may credit you for excess generation which will also be measured in kilowatt-hours.

MyEnlighten displays the amount of energy generated by your microinverter system in watt-hours. For example, an Enphase microinverter system might generate 400 kWh (amount) in the month of September (period of time). A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is 1,000 Wh, so 400 kWh is 400,000 Wh. In some cases, MyEnlighten will display energy as megawatt-hours (MWh), which is one million watt-hours.

So what is the difference?

In a nutshell, watt-hours measure amounts of energy for a specific period of time, and watts measure rates of power at a moment in time.

A common analogy for watts and watt-hours is speed and distance. Speed is a rate of how fast you drive at an instant in time (watts); distance is the length, or amount that you drive over a period of time (watt-hours). For example, if you drive at a constant rate of 60 miles per hour for one hour, then you will have traveled 60 miles.

Similarly, if a 60 W light bulb is on for one hour, then that light bulb will have used 60 Wh of energy. If left on for two hours, then the 60 W light bulb will have used 120Wh of energy.

So what?

Knowing about watts and watt-hours can give you a greater appreciation of the energy savings on your utility bills. You can compare the electric bills you received before you installed your Enphase Microinverter system to your current bills and calculate your energy savings, and in turn your monetary savings. Keep in mind that your utility will only bill and credit you for energy that runs through your electric meter. Solar generation that is consumed by your home will not be measured by your utility.

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