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Founded in 1979, Solar Oregon is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit membership organization providing public education and community outreach to encourage Oregonians to choose solar energy.
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What are Watts, Kilowatts, and Kilowatt Hours?

Contributors: Markus

The size of a solar electric system is often described in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). One kW = 1,000 W. Watts are a unit of power, just like the horsepower of an engine. They express the maximum possible output of energy the system can produce at any point in time.

 

The size of a solar electric system is often described in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). One kW = 1,000 W. Watts are a unit of power, just like the horsepower of an engine. They express the maximum possible output of energy the system can produce at any point in time.

When sunlight strikes solar electric panels, they produce electricity that is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). Kilowatt hours are the units of energy you buy from your utility and use in your home to run your appliances, lighting and electronics.

In Oregon, a good rule of thumb is that 1,000 watts of solar electric panels require about 100 ft2 of space and will typically produce 1,000-1,300 kWh of electricity each year. If you double or triple the size of the system, you will double or triple the amount of electricity it produces.

KWh are units of energy produced or consumed. If your 1000 Watt (1 kW) system produces energy at full capacity for 1 hour, it will have produced 1 kWh. If you turn on 10 light bulbs rated at 100 watts each for 1 hour, they will consume 1 kWh.

 
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