How Do You Measure BTUs?

hvac technician working on AC

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Are you intrigued by math and science? Want to work outside the office, and use your hands? If this sounds like you, consider a career as an HVAC/R technician. During an HVAC/R technician program, you will learn many important terms. BTUs is a measurement you will learn about in your HVAC/R technician program at The Refrigeration School (RSI).

What is a BTU?

A BTU, a British Thermal Unit, measures an energy source’s heat content. One BTU is approximately the same amount of energy released as a burning match.

How Do You Measure BTUs?

One BTU is the heat required to raise the temperature in the air, and one pound of liquid water is 1 degree Fahrenheit.

To measure how many BTUs an A/C unit is rated at, consider that 20 BTUs equals one square foot of living space. An 8,000 BTU/h portable air conditioning unit can cool a small bedroom. HVAC technicians understand that the air conditioning unit must have a BTU rating proportionate to the cooled space.

If you want to convert BTUs into kilowatt hours to understand how much electricity an A/C unit will cost, the measurement is:

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1 BTU = 0.000293 kilowatt hours

8,000 BTU x 0.000293 kilowatts = 2.344 kilowatts

2.344 kilowatts x 8 hours a day = 18.752 kilowatt hours for using you’re A/C unit

In Arizona, 1 kilowatt hour costs approximately 16 cents. It would cost $3 in electricity a day to run your portable 8,000 BTU A/C.

Why Use BTUs?

The measurement of BTUs is a standard global measurement. Plus, BTUs can be used to compare energy sources. Most fuels can be converted from physical units to a common unit of measurement, or BTUs. For example:

  • Electricity = 1 kilowatt hour or 3, 412 BTUs
  • Natural Gas = 1 cubic foot or 1,036 BTUs
  • Gasoline = 1 gallon or 120,214 BTUs
  • Heating Oil = 1 gallon or 138,500 BTUs
  • Propane = 1 gallon or 91,452 BTUs
  • Wood = 1 cord or 20,000,000 BTUs

Why are BTUs important in HVAC?

Air conditioning units remove heat from the air inside your home. It replaces hot and humid air with cooler air. The amount of heat removed from a room can be measured in BTUs. If an A/C unit has 8,000 BTUs, it absorbs 8,000 British Thermal Units of heat from inside the house, moving it outside to cool down.

Many HVAC technicians use BTU ratings to gauge air conditioning systems to understand the power and size of the unit.

Want To Learn More?

Ready to start your new career at one of the best schools for HVAC in Phoenix? Because HVAC is a hands-on job, technical training is typically required for anyone to enter this field. Many people invest in a trade program to learn the trade skills they need to be safe and effective as a professional. To learn more about our HVAC program offered at the Phoenix, AZ campus, contact us at The Refrigeration School or call 1-888-671-5803.