Difference Between Ah and Wh batteries – A Simplified Guide

Ever wondered about the energy stored in your battery? Dive into this guide as we unravel the mystery behind Ah and Wh.

We’ll turn complex jargon into simple terms. Let’s illuminate the difference between Ah and Wh together!

Understanding the Basics

Imagine you’re planning a road trip. The distance you’ll travel is like Wh (Watt-hours), which tells you how much energy your battery can deliver over time. It’s like the total “journey” your battery can take.

On the other hand, the speed you’re driving at is like Ah (Ampere-hours). It tells you the “pace” at which your battery can deliver the energy.

So, when we talk about Wh and Ah in batteries, we’re talking about the “journey” and the “pace” of energy.

What is the difference between Wh and Ah batteries? Well, they’re just two ways of looking at the same thing – energy. But while Wh tells us the total energy a battery can deliver, Ah tells us the rate at which it provides that energy.

Think of it like this: a battery with a high Wh but low Ah could run a small gadget for a long time, while a battery with a high Ah but low Wh could run a big machine, but only for a short while.

Understanding Wh

Watt-hours, or Wh, is a measure of electrical energy. If you’ve ever wondered how much energy your battery can deliver, this is the number you’re looking for. It’s like knowing how much gas is in your car’s tank.

But how do you calculate it for a battery bank? It’s pretty simple. You just need to know two things: your batteries’ voltage (V) and capacity in ampere-hours (Ah).

Here’s the formula: Wh = V * Ah

So, if you have a 12V battery with a capacity of 100Ah, the energy it can deliver is 12V * 100Ah = 1200Wh. That’s enough to power a 60W light bulb for 20 hours!

1200Wh / 60W= 20 hours

But what if you have more than one battery? No problem. Add up the Wh of each battery to get the total for your battery bank.

As for how many watt-hours you need, that depends on what you’re trying to power. Each device or appliance you use will have its power (watts), the rate at which it uses energy. You can figure out how many watt-hours you need by adding up the wattage of everything you want to power and how long you’ll be using them. You can use my off-grid solar calculator to do this for you.

Understanding Ah

Ampere-hours, or Ah, is a measure of how much current a battery can deliver over time. It’s like the speedometer in your car, telling you how fast you’re going.

Here’s an easy way to understand it: If a battery has a capacity of 1Ah, it means it can deliver a current of 1 ampere for one hour. Or, it could provide 0.5 amperes for two hours, 2 amperes for half an hour, and so on. The total energy delivered is the same, but the “speed” at which it’s delivered can vary.

So, if a device needs 2 amperes of current to run, a 1Ah battery could power it for half an hour. A 2Ah battery could power it for one hour, a 4Ah battery for two hours, and so on.

But what if you have a battery bank with multiple batteries? Like watt-hours, you can add up the Ah of each battery to get the total for your battery bank.

Remember, though, that Ah is about the “speed” of energy delivery, not the total amount of energy. A battery with a high Ah can deliver a lot of current quickly, but it might not have a lot of total energy (Wh) if its voltage is low. That’s why it’s important to consider both Ah and Wh when choosing a battery.

Ah doesn’t tell you much about how much energy a battery holds. Therefore, voltage of the battery plays an important role.

Ah is essential in calculating the C-rate of your system. Talking about C-rate will be too in-depth in this article, so you can watch my video about it here.

Converting Ah to Wh

A starter battery in a car is usually 12V and 100Ah. So how do we know how many Wh the battery holds?

Easy, multiply the voltage by Ah

12V x 100Ah = 1.200Wh

We can see that Wh depends on the voltage of the battery. The higher the voltage, the higher the Wh.

I see many people on forums say they have a 100Ah battery. But this battery can hold very different energy at different voltages. Let’s explore the differences:

100Ah x 12V = 1200Wh

100Ah x 24V = 2400Wh

100Ah x 48V = 4800Wh

See the difference? It’s always important to mention the battery’s voltage when you talk about Ah.

Converting Wh to Ah

We can do this the other way around too. If we know the Wh and battery voltage, we can calculate Ah.

1.200Wh / 12V = 100Ah

Calculating Watt-hours for Appliances

To calculate the watt-hours (Wh) of an appliance, you need to know two things: the power of the appliance (in watts) and how long you use it (in hours).

Here’s the formula: Wh = Power (W) * Time (h)

For example, let’s say you have a 60W light bulb and use it for 5 hours a day. The watt-hours used by the light bulb would be:

60W x 5h = 300Wh

This means the light bulb uses 300 watt-hours of energy per day.

But what if you have multiple appliances? Just do the same calculation for each one and add them up. That will give you the total watt-hours used by all your appliances.

Remember, watt-hours is a measure of energy, so it tells you how much energy your appliances use. Knowing this lets you figure out how big your battery bank needs to be to power them.

Calculating Watt-hours for a Battery Bank

Now that we know how to calculate the watt-hours (Wh) for appliances, let’s apply the same principle to a battery bank.

Remember the formula we used earlier? Wh = Voltage (V) * Capacity (Ah). We’re going to use that again, but this time, we’re going to add up the Wh for each battery in the bank.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Calculate the Wh for each battery using the formula. For example, if you have a 12V battery with a capacity of 100Ah, the Wh would be 12V * 100Ah = 1200Wh.
  2. Add up the Wh for all the batteries in the bank. This will give you the total Wh for the battery bank.

For example, if you have four 12V 100Ah batteries, the total Wh would be 4 * 1200Wh = 4800Wh. This means your battery bank can deliver 4800 watt-hours of energy.

This is the total energy your battery bank theoretically can deliver. If you use lead acid, the battery should only be used 50% to extend its lifespan. If you use lithium, you should be using only 80% of it. You can calculate it using the following formula:

4800Wh*0.8=3840Wh of usable energy


Understanding the difference between Ah and Wh is crucial when dealing with batteries, whether you’re planning a solar project or just curious about how your car battery works.

Remember, Ah tells us the “pace” at which energy is delivered, while Wh gives us the total “journey” of energy. By understanding these concepts, you can make informed decisions about your energy needs and how to meet them.

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