A hectoliter is 100 liters (26.4 U.S. gallons) and is a term of measurement for volume or capacity that is part of the International System of Units or metric system. Volumes and capacities are often expressed in hectoliters in international commerce and are particularly common in the beer, wine, and grain industries. The prefix hecto- is abbreviated as h. Liter is abbreviated as either l or L. Thus, a hectoliter is abbreviated as either hl or hL. "Hectolitre" is an alternative spelling that is commonly used in Great Britain.
Volume and capacity are terms that refer to three-dimensional space. Liquids, solids and gases occupy certain amounts of three-dimensional space, and containers have a capacity to hold certain amounts of materials. These amounts are expressed in various units of measurement around the world.
The metric system or International System of Units is the most widely used unit system, and is formally known by its French name, the Système International d’Unités (SI). The meter is the base unit of length in the SI system, and a liter is equivalent to 0.001 cubic meters. The prefix hecto- comes from the Latin word hekaton and means hundred. Therefore, a hectoliter is equivalent to 0.1 cubic meters.
Since the metric system is not customarily used in the United States, it is important to be able to convert between hectoliters and the units of volume and capacity that are used in U.S. commerce. One hectoliter is equivalent to 26.4 U.S. gallons, 3.53 cubic feet, 2.84 U.S. standard bushels, 0.3524 U.S. Winchester bushels, and 11.35 pecks. Most of these units are used for volumes of dry materials, such as, grains or powders. Liquid volumes in the United States are mostly described in U.S. gallons.
Hectoliters are commonly used to express volumes and capacities related to the production of beer, wine, and grains, such as wheat and oats. The amount of beer or wine produced and the amount of water used to produce them are generally described outside the United States in units of hectoliters. The bulk density, or mass per unit volume, of a sample or shipment of grain is typically expressed in kilograms per hectoliter. This measurement is also known as a test weight or hectoliter weight. Although grain test weights within the United States are most often expressed in pounds per U.S. Winchester bushel, these amounts are converted to kilograms per hectoliter for international trade.