BTU To Ton: How Many BTU In a Ton? (Ton to BTU)

A common question is, how many BTU in a ton?

There are 12,000 BTU per ton.

24,000 BTU per two tons, and so forth.

This page has two calculators. The first is BTU to ton conversion. The second calculator does the opposite – ton to BTU conversion.

BTU to Ton Calculator

This calculator is very straightforward. Type in the BTU rating of the equipment, and the number of tons will be automatically calculated.

It works for cooling tons for AC or refrigeration and for heating tons.

Here is an example showing the BTU to ton conversion.

Example: How many tons is 12000 BTU?

12000 BTU is 1 ton. Here’s how you find the answer. Type 12000 into the BTU space, and the calculator will show you the 12000 BTU to ton conversion – it is 1 ton.

Did you know? The BTU to ton calculator really shows BTU hr to ton, since BTU/hour is the technical way to consider the cooling power of an AC or refrigeration or heating power of a furnace or heat pump. BTU/hour is the number of BTUs a unit could create (furnace, for example) or move (heat pump, for example) if it ran continuously for one hour.

BTU to Tons Chart

This chart shows common BTU sizes for equipment including room air conditioners, mini split heat pumps and ACs and central AC and heat pump units.

Of course, mini splits and central HVAC equipment comes in fewer sizes. And room air conditioners are limited in size to about 14,000 BTU for portable units and about 30,000 BTU for window air conditioners.

Common BTU to Tons Chart:

5,000 BTU0.42 Ton
6,000 BTU0.5 Ton
8,000 BTU0.65 Ton
9,000 BTU0.75 Ton
10,000 BTU0.83 Ton
12,000 BTU1 Ton
14,000 BTU1.15 Ton
15,000 BTU1.25 Ton
18,000 BTU1.5 Ton
24,000 BTU2 Ton
28,000 BTU2.33 Ton
30,000 BTU2.5 Ton
34,000 BTU2.83 Ton
36,000 BTU3 Ton
42,000 BTU3.5 Ton
48,000 BTU4 Ton
54,000 BTU4.5 Ton
60,000 BTU5 Ton
80,000 BTU6.65 Ton
100,000 BTU8.33 Ton
120,000 BTU10 Ton

Example: A load calculation shows I need 24,000 BTU cooling. How many tons is 24000 BTU?

Answer: 2 Tons. To convert BTU to Tons, simply find 24,000 BTU in the left column of this chart and you see that it will require an AC unit of 2 ton capacity to cool this home. In short, the conversion of 24000 BTU to ton is 2.

Ton to BTU Calculator

Sometimes the tons rating of the equipment is known, and you need BTUs. The 1 ton to BTU conversion is 12,000, as the calculator shows. In short, there are 12,000 BTU per ton.

Try the calculator. Enter the tons of the equipment, and the BTU rating will be calculated. It is valid for equipment to 20 tons including those with decimals such as 1.5 or 3.5, both common ton sizes for HVAC equipment.

Example: How do I convert ton to BTU?

Multiply tons by 12000. That’s what the calculator does for you. Let’s say you have 3 ton central AC and want to know how many BTU it is if you want to replace it with several room ACs or a mini split. Type 3 in the Ton box, and the answer is 36,000 BTU.

Example: How many BTU is a 3 ton ac unit?

36,000 BTU. Enter 3 in the calculator, and it converts ton to BTU automatically.

Ton to BTU Chart

How many BTU is 2 tons?

Let’s say your heat pump’s manual says it is 2.0 tons. How many BTU is 2 tons?

The 2 ton to BTU conversion equals 24,000 BTU. Find 2 in the Ton column on this chart and it shows you that it is equal to 12000 BTU.

This chart does the calculations for common residential size equipment.

Common Ton to BTU Chart:

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
4.5 Ton54,000 BTU
5 Ton60,000 BTU

Example: A commercial air conditioning system is larger than 5 tons, how can I calculate the BTU?

You can use the Ton to BTU Calculator that is further up on this page. Enter the number of tons, and it will calculate BTU. For example, if you have a 9 ton AC, when you enter 9, the answer 108,000 BTU appears.

Or for easy ones, like 8 tons, you can use the Chart. Simply double the 4 ton number. 4 tons is 48,000 BTU: 8 tons = 48,000 x 2, or 96,000 BTU.

FAQs about BTU and Tons

Some of the most common questions on this topic are here with answers.

Q: BTU and ton are used on which device?

A: Small, room-sized air conditioners and most residential furnaces are rated in BTU.

Large air conditioners designed to cool an entire home or building and large commercial furnaces are rated in tons. For example, the product page for the Rheem RA-16 AC lists the units by tonnage, meaning tons.

The technical data like spec sheets show BTU. In fact, the various models within the Rheem RA-16 have numbers showing the thousands of BTU – 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48 and 60, or 1.5 to 5.0 tons.

Q: Why is it called ton? What’s the story behind the cooling rating of a Ton?

A: Prior to the first electric air conditioner, large blocks of ice were used to cool both residential and commercial buildings. A ton of cooling capacity refers to the amount of heat it takes to completely melt a ton of ice. It was determined that 286,000 BTU were required to do this in 24 hours. This equates to approximately 12,000 BTU per hour. (Remember, air conditioners remove heat from the building and transfer it outside, which results in cooler air inside).

Q: Why is the British Thermal Unit a measure of Pounds and Fahrenheit when the UK uses Kilograms and Celsius?

A: The BTU was developed by a British mathematician and physicist in about 1897. At the time, the pounds were the common measure of weight and the Fahrenheit scale was widely used to measure temperature. The UK meteorological service (MET Office) officially switched to using Celsius in their weather forecasts in 1962, but the BTU rating still expresses the original pounds and Fahrenheit.

Q: What is BTU?

A: Furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps and other equipment are rated by BTUs or British Thermal Units. One BTU is the amount of energy required to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. The term, “BTU/h” is sometimes used because the BTU ratings actually refer to how much heat a furnace or heat pump can add, or an air conditioner can remove, in an hour. Larger, central air conditioners are rated by Tons rather than BTU.

Q: Can you convert tons of cooling to heating in BTU/hr?

A: Not quite exactly, but pretty closely. A heat pump’s rating will typically be slightly higher for cooling than for heating in BTU/hr.

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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