Cooling Btu Calculator: How Many Btu Cooling Do I Need?

How Many BTU Cooling Do I Need?

The btu per square foot cooling rule of thumb is 20 BTU for the size of the cooling area.

For example, a 400 square foot room should have an 8,000 BTU AC for optimal cooling. A 2,000 square foot home is best served by air conditioning with around 40,000 BTU capacity, which would be 3.5 tons or 42,000 BTU, since there are 12000 BTU per ton: In other words, to convert 1 ton of cooling to BTU, multiply ton by 12000. A 2-ton AC = 24,000 BTU, and so forth.

As you know, the cooling power or cooling capacity of an air conditioner is how powerful the AC system is. The rule above is good for heat pumps too when they provide cooling or heating, since heating BTU vs cooling BTU is the same. A 2 ton heat pump, or 24,000 BTU heat pump, will move 24,000 BTU of heat per hour out of the house in AC mode and will bring into your home 24,000 BTU of heat per hour when in heating mode.

 OK, with that information in mind, let’s answer the question – How many BTU cooling do I need?  Although 20 Btu’s per square foot is the normal standard number used, there are some other factors related to your home’s situation that can make that number larger than 20, though. Those factors are built into our Cooling BTU calculation.

Cooling BTU Calculator

The Cooling BTU Calculator below will allow you to find out how many BTUs you will need to cool your home by filling in each of the sections in the calculator.

Cooling BTU Calculator

There are three steps needed in order to fill in the BTU calculator that is above. Follow the instructions below to find out how many BTUs you will need to cool your home.

Step 1: Enter the square footage for the room you want to cool – or your entire home if you’re planning central AC using a split system or mini split ductless system.

If you don’t know the square footage, use the area formula (length times width equals area) for the room – or for each room in your home and then add all the areas of each room together to get the total square footage for your home for central air.

Step 2: Select the insulation condition of your home. You can choose from “Good” (very few leaks and/or windows in a house with house wrap), “Average”, or “Poor” (many leaks and/or windows.)

Step 3: Choose the sun exposure for your home. The choices are heavily shaded, average, or very sunny.

Results: Once you fill in the three steps above in the calculator, you will know how many BTUs are needed to cool your home.

You may also like the following posts If you prefer the lowest cooling capacity room air conditioners:

How Many BTU Cooling Do I Need?

Your cooling needs are based on the square footage of your room or entire living space that you want to cool with air conditioning. The table multiplies the square footage by 20 in order to find the cooling BTUs that are needed.

How Many BTU Cooling Do I Need

Room SizeCooling Btu
380 sq ft7,600 Btu
550 sq ft11,000 Btu
600 sq ft12,000 Btu
640 sq ft12,800 Btu
750 sq ft15,000 Btu
800 sq ft16,000 Btu
1,000 sq ft20,000 Btu
1,300 sq ft26,000 Btu
2,000 sq ft40,000 Btu
2,200 sq ft44,000 Btu
2,300 sq ft46,000 Btu
2,400 sq ft48,000 Btu
2,500 sq ft50,000 Btu
2,600 sq ft52,000 Btu
2,800 sq ft56,000 Btu

How many BTU for 1000 square foot?

20,000 BTU. Find 1000 square feet in the left column  (1000 sq ft), and scan to the right. You’ll see that 1000 square feet of space needs about 20,000 BTU for cooling. Some window air conditioners deliver 20,000 BTU.

For mini split or central air, you’ll have to decide on whether to go a little small at 1.5 tons or 18,000 but or go up to a 2-ton, 24,000 BTU system. In cool climates, the smaller unit should be OK; if your weather is hot, especially hot and humid, choose the larger unit. Also consider the factors in the AC BTU Needed calculator above.

5000 – 60,000 BTU Cooling Area

The “5,000 – 60,000 BTU Cooling Area” table below shows how various values of BTUs can cool a specific area, starting at 5,000 BTUs and going up to 60,000 BTUs. To find the cooling area for each BTU number, the BTU number is divided by 20, which is the standard number of square feet that one BTU can cool efficiently.

BtuCooling area
5,000 Btu250 sq ft
8,000 Btu400 sq ft
9,000 Btu450 sq ft
10,000 Btu500 sq ft
12,000 Btu600 sq ft
15,000 Btu750 sq ft
18,000 Btu900 sq ft
24,000 Btu1,200 sq ft
36,000 Btu1,800 sq ft
48,000 Btu2,400 sq ft
60,000 Btu3,000 sq ft

What is the 12000 btu cooling area?

600 square feet. Find 12000 in the left column, and you’ll see that it has enough AC power to cool 600 square feet.

I have an 8000 BTU window air conditioner. What is the 8000 btu cooling area? 

400 square feet, according to the table above.

1-5 Ton of Cooling to BTU

The “1-5 Ton of Cooling to BTU” table shows how various values of tons of coolant is worth when compared to BTUs for cooling your home. The table above uses the fact that 1 ton of refrigeration or coolant is equivalent to 12,000 BTUs. In order to get each BTU value, the number of tons is multiplied by 12,000.

5000 – 36000 BTU Cooling Area

1 Ton12,000 Btu
1.5 Ton18,000 Btu
2 Ton24,000 Btu
2.5 Ton30,000 Btu
3 Ton36,000 Btu
3.5 Ton42,000 Btu
4 Ton48,000 Btu
5 Ton60,000 Btu

How many BTUs in 1 ton of cooling?

12,000 BTUs equals 1 ton. If you divide the values in the right column above by 12,000, you’ll get the number in the left column for the number of tons.

What is a ton of cooling to BTU?

How many BTUs in 1 ton of cooling?

To convert 1 ton of cooling to BTU, multiply 1 x 12000, so 1 Ton = 12,000 BTH/hr.

A 5 ton AC moves 60,000 BTU per hour, for example.

Do you know why the term “ton” is used for AC and heat pumps? A ton is the amount of heat needed to melt 2000 pounds of ice in 24 hours.

Is There a Heating BTU Calculator?

Yes, here is the heating BTU calculator that can help you calculate the BTU needed for heating units such as furnaces, heat pumps, space heaters, etc.

BTU heating and BTU cooling represent the same thing.

A 48,000 BTU furnace burns fuel to produce 48,000 BTU per hour; a 4-ton/48,000 BTU heat pump brings in 48,000 BTU per hour of heat – it pumps it from outside to inside. And a 48,000 BTU AC removes or pumps 48,000 BTU of heat from inside to outside every hour.

For ACs and heat pumps, the BTU number for air conditioning systems is the amount of energy that is used to move the heat from one location to the other.

Written by

Rene has worked 10 years in the HVAC field and now is the Senior Comfort Specialist for PICKHVAC. He holds an HVAC associate degree and EPA & R-410A Certifications.

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