What is BTU?

BTU, stands for British Thermal Unit, which is a measure of heat energy. One BTU corresponds to the amount of thermal (heat) energy required to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

One BTU can also be looked at as 252 heat calories (not the same as food, kilo-calories) or one third of a watt-hour. BTU also works in reverse, it is the amount of energy required to lower the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

How Is BTU Used in HVAC?

BTU is used to measure the cooling capacity of an air conditioning unit. The higher the BTU, the more powerful, and, usually, the higher price. Typically, air conditioning unit starts ar 1,000 BTU. As a unit of power, BTU is written as BTU/h, or BTU per hour.

BTU is determined by the square footage of your home, along with a few guidelines to follow:

To cool this area Look for this size air conditioner
100 to 150 square feet 5,000 BTUs
150 to 250 square feet 6,000 BTUs
250 to 300 square feet 7,000 BTUs
300 to 350 square feet 8,000 BTUs
350 to 400 square feet 9,000 BTUs
400 to 450 square feet 10,000 BTUs
450 to 550 square feet 12,000 BTUs
550 to 700 square feet 14,000 BTUs
700 to 1,000 square feet 18,000 BTUs
1,000 to 1 400 square feet 24,000 BTUs
  • Reduce the BTUs by 10% if the room is shaded
  • In a sunny room, increase 10% more BTUs
  • Add 4,000 BTUs for an AC in the kitchen considering kitchen appliances can generate a lot of heat
  • If more than two people spend a lot of time in one room, add 600 BTUs per person to cool that room

Have any questions on BTU and what type of units you’ll need?
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