All you need to know about kW, kWh, and charging speed

Welcome to SHIFT Basics, a collection of tips, explainers, guides, and advice to keep you up to speed with mobility tech.

If you’ve made, or are thinking about making, the shift to an electric car you’ll have to get up to speed on all the new terminology that comes with it.

While EVs aren’t that different to combustion engined vehicles in practice: the fact that they are powered by electricity throws up a lot of new things to learn when it comes to “filling up” or charging.

We’ve already given you the low down on two of the most popular fast-charging connector types, CHAdeMO and CCS, but now lets look at some common terminology you’ll see when reading about electric vehicles, charging, and batteries.

Know your kW from kWh

When you think of batteries, you probably imagine the things you used to stuff in the back of a portable radio or inside your watch. Modern lithium-ion-based electric car batteries aren’t too different, they’re just much, much bigger.

EV battery size is measured in kWh, or kilowatt hours. But what is that?

A kilowatt hour is a measure of energy used by an appliance if it were kept running for one hour. It’s not how many kilowatts are being used per hour!

car, ev, nissan, leaf, charger
Credit: Wikimedia – CC