What is a Unit of Electricity? Learn With Examples

Almost all electrical appliances come with power rating in watts, but the electricity bill has no mention of watts. This means that there is a relationship between units of electricity and watts. Don’t worry, it is easy to understand and we will make it crystal clear in this post.

What is a unit of electricity?

Units of electricity measure the amount of energy consumed. It is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh).

It means that

1 unit of electricity = 1 kWh of electricity

Now the question is what is kilowatt hours (kWh)?

1 kilowatt hour is amount of power consumed by a 1 kilowatt (1000 watt) appliance when it runs for 1 hour.

This means that if 1000 watt (1 kilowatt) rated mixer grinder is used continuously for 1 hour, it will consume 1 kilowatt of electricity, which is 1 kilowatt hour or 1 unit.

At Rs 5 per unit, it will cost you 5 rupees to use the mixer for an hour.

An induction cooktop typically uses 2000 watts of power.

If you run this induction cooktop for 1 hour, it will use 2 kilowatts of power. This is 1 kilowatt of energy used over 1 period of 1 hour.

At Rs 5 per unit, it will cost you 5*2= 10 rupees to use the induction cooktop for an hour.

A 1500 watt rated microwave oven, when runs for 1 hour continuously, it consumes 1.5 kilowatt of power. Which is equivalent to 1.5 kWh.

At Rs 5 per unit, it will cost you 5*1.5= 7.5 rupees to use the microwave oven for an hour.

A home water purifier is one of the least power-hungry electrical appliances in Indian homes. High end electrical water purifier can consume 60 watts of power.

If this water purifier runs continuously for 1 hour, it will consume only 0.06 units of electricity.

At Rs 5 per unit, it will consume 5*0.06 = 0.3 rupees in an hour.

If its capacity is 15 liters and family consume 15 liters of water per day, it will cost you 30 paise per day to use an electrical water purifier.

If you want to understand more, we have explained in more detail here.

What is the difference between watt and kilowatt hour?

Watt is the measurement of power, while kWh is the measurement of energy (electricity).

And we learn in 10th grade that

Energy (kilowatt hour) = Power (kilowatt) x Time (hour)

What is the difference between kWh and kVAh?

To understand the difference between the two, its important know few things about electrical appliances.

Any electrical appliance that has a motor uses magnetic field coil to rotate the motor. Such appliances use electrical energy for two purposes- rotating the shaft and generating magnetic field.

  • The energy used to rotate the shaft is called active energy, which is measured in kWh
  • And the energy used to generate magnetic field is called reactive energy, which is measured in kVArh
  • Sum of active energy (kWh) and reactive energy (kVAh) is called total energy or total apparent energy. This is measured in kVAh
  • Power factor is the ratio of active energy (kWh) and total energy (kVAh). It gives an indication about how much % of total energy is being used as active energy. This is the reason why kVaH is equal to or greater than kWh.

Hence Power Factor (PF) = kWh/kVAh


kVAh = kWh/PF

It means that if the PF decreases, KVAh will increase. Basically, if you are using many appliances or machine that use motor, then the chances of PF decreasing are high because these devices use good amount of energy to generate magnetic field for the machine. Hence is usually advised to add a capacitor bank to generate additional required magnetic field so that value of PF remains close to 1.

How to estimate power consumption by an Appliance?

Calculating the power consumption is easy. You need the wattage rating which is usually displayed on the appliance or on the packaging. Now you need to observe your daily appliance usage to get the number of f minutes or hours the appliance is used daily.

Now you can use the following formulae for calculating the daily unit.

Daily Units = (Watt-age x Number of hours appliance is used in a day) / 1000


Daily Units = (Watt-age x Number of minutes appliance is used in a day) / 60000


Monthly Units = Units x number of days in a month

This formula will give you a decent idea about the energy consumption of different types of appliances. However, appliances such as AC, Iron and other appliances used to heating and cooling may consume energy as per their wattage because they come with thermostat that change the temperature and power consumption constantly.


One unit of electricity is equal to 1 kilowatt hours. This is equivalent to amount of power consumed when an appliance rated 1000 watt (or 1 kilowatt) runs for an hour. When the appliances comes with a motor, then some of the electricity gets consumed in generating magnetic field, hence kWh becomes less important and kVAh comes into play. kVAh is equal to kWh when power factor is one. This means that when the machine does not contain motor or any other device that generates magnetic field, then there is no role of kVAh. Estimating the power consumption of an appliance is easy. Just multiply the number of hours the appliance is running with its wattage in kilowatt.

We hope that you understood the topic clearly. If you still have any doubts, feel free to ask us in the comment section.


Ceiling Fan Power Consumption

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