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A Few Words About Power Unit Conversion - by Sean Welsh
The unit conversions on this page represent different ways of expressing the same quantity of power. In the same way that 1 cubic foot, 7.5 gallons, and 28 Liters are all ways of stating the same volume, likewise, 10 kilowatts (kW), 13.5 horsepower (HP), and 34,000 BTUs per hour (BTU/h) are all ways of stating the same amount of power. This can be confusing, simply because by custom we tend not to use these units interchangeably, even though we could. For example, a lightbulb might consume 0.08 horsepower, and a generator might produce 52,000 BTU/h of electricity. Those expressions don’t sound right, even though they are correct, because we prefer to call it a 60-watt light bulb, and a 15 kW generator.
When power is changed from one form to another, say from mechanical to electrical, the process is seldom 100% efficient and often power is lost as heat. For example to build a 10 kW electric generator will require a larger engine than 13.5 HP. Resistive electric heaters such as found in water heaters, cooktops, and space heaters are about the only nearly 100% efficient power conversion devices, and you can usually figure that every kW of electricity consumed will produce 3,400 BTU/h of heat.
Remember also that air conditioning and refrigeration is a process of moving heat from one place to another, rather than converting one form of power to another. This can be done mechanically, electrically, or with heat and gravity, but in all cases the amount of power required is process-dependent and difficult to calculate, and can not be gleaned from the conversions on this page
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"A Few Words About Power Unit Conversion" © 2010 Sean Welsh, used by permission.
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