Watt the BTU . . . ?

When deciding whether to buy or hire a portable air conditioning unit, you may come across the term ‘BTU’ or alternatively Kilowatts.     BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and in the world of HVAC  is the amount of heat that an air conditioner can remove from a room.  If an air conditioner’s capacity is measure in Kilowatts then one Kilowatt is equivalent to 3,412 BTUs.  For the science-minded among us, One BTU is the amount of energy needed to raise 1 pound of water 1°F at sea level.

Why are BTUs or Kilowatts important when choosing an air conditioner?  Having the correct number of BTUs for the space you need to cool means that the room will be cooled efficiently.  It should also be borne in mind that as the BTU rating increases so does the weight, size and cost of the air conditioner.

Too high a BTU means that although the room will cool quickly, the unit will cycle  on and off once the temperature is  reached and to keep it  at that temperature, overworking the compressor and shortening the life of the unit.  If the air conditioner is too small in BTU terms for the size of the space to be cooled, then the desired temperature will not be reached, the unit will continuously work too hard, possibly shortening its lifespan. 

It may seem a daunting task to have to calculate the number of BTUs needed, but London Cool’s website has an easy to use cooling calculator.  All you need to do is enter the room sizes, or total area and London Cool will do the rest.  The calculator will list the types of air conditioning unit most suitable for the space, the number required and the total cooling capacity in Kilowatts.   

Our Sales Team are on hand to help and advise, especially as there are other factors that may affect the number and choice of portable air conditioners.  It is important to know whether there is an area to vent the warm air away, eg an opening window or a ceiling void,  what the room will be used for (eg kitchens or server rooms/data centres will need more cooling), how many people occupy the room and the level of activity, whether the room gets a lot of direct sunlight and  the outside temperature. 


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