Energy is the capacity to do work. The standard unit of Energy is the Joule (J). However there are many other units that are used, e.g. calorie, kilocalorie, Btu, kilowatt hour. For the purposes of PV solar systems it’s probably fair to say the only unit of energy needed is the kilowatt hour, so there's no absolute need to know or remember the others. For the more ‘energetic’ there is more information on energy, work, and power on this site!
kWh – kilowatt hour. Unit of energy. The amount of energy used or produced if a process that is working at a rate of 1kW runs for one hour.
When using a hosepipe, the amount of water the water company will charge you for is the rate the hosepipe is gushing the water out multiplied by the time you have the hosepipe on. So in a similar way we can repeat to ourselves that:
So if an electric immersion heater of power 3kW is on continuously for 2 hours it will have used 2 X 3 = 6kWh of energy. If a small generator is producing a power of 2kW continuously for 20 minutes it will have produced 2 X 1/3 = 0.67kWh of electrical energy.
Some water companies charge per litre or perhaps per cubic metre of water used; in a similar way electricity companies charge per kWh of electrical energy used. Sometimes electricity companies refer to a kWh as a ‘unit’, and prices are quoted as so much a ‘unit’. This may be rather confusing, but is just part of the language that has grown up around electrical energy supply.
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