To most, buying a new aircon unit is just like buying any ordinary home or office appliance. Contrary to popular belief, there’s much more to it.
Air-conditioners come with tons of specifications that must be taken into consideration before the purchase. And if you’re not properly prepared, you might just buy something that doesn’t quite fit your needs.
One of the most important specs for aircon units stands behind the “BTU” acronym. But because most customers lack the knowledge, it’s often ignored.
Furthermore, this can greatly affect your aircon choice, especially if there’s no professional assistance to help you pick the right unit for your home.
Because the meaning and purpose of “BTU” is often left unclear, we’ve compiled some basic information to help you get the meaning as well as some tips on how to apply it when buying a new aircon.
BTU – What does it mean?
The meaning of the acronym BTU is “British Thermal Unit”. According to Wikipedia, BTU represents “the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit”.
In other words, it’s used to measure thermal energy. When applied to aircon systems, this measurement shows how many BTUs can be added or removed from the air for one hour.
Of course, this may not mean anything to you, unless you’re in the manufacturing or retailing of such heating supplies. Here’s some less sophisticated explanation:
More BTUs than Necessary
Most homeowners believe that getting an aircon unit during installation with better specs is essential. However, an air conditioner must be scaled to the size of the room.
Otherwise, you might have some trouble with either the temperature, humidity, or the appliance itself. So, if your aircon unit’s BTU spec is too high, that can eventually shorten your machine’s lifespan.
To maintain the desired temperature, an aircon with more BTUs than the needed will cool quickly. But having to constantly cycle on and off in fitful spurts of time can cause the aircon compressor to malfunction at one point.
Less isn’t a Solution Either
On the contrary, buying an air conditioner with fewer BTUs than the necessary will virtually lead to the same results.
When your aircon doesn’t have enough energy to handle the set requirements, it will have to run continuously without reaching the desired temperature.
What’s more, the heat load will be higher than the usual, which will ultimately translate into a shorter lifespan for your unit.
Helpful read: Factors That Can Affect Your Aircon Efficiency
How to Properly Size Your Aircon Based on Its BTU
To deal with the problems mentioned above, you must pick your purchase carefully. Moreover, the BTU of your aircon must correspond to the size of the room you’re planning to condition.
Properly sizing your aircon based on its BTU will not only save you from buying the wrong aircon unit, but it will also save you a lot of money on repairs and electricity bills.
If you go online, there is a huge variety of BTU calculators that will help you to determine the exact amount of BTUs you’ll need according to your room size. Ultimately, air conditioners require 20 BTU for each square foot of living space. However, you should also bear in mind the ceiling height and the size of the windows and doors, because they too can affect the aircon’s efficiency.
For this reason, it’s important to take proper measurements of your room before buying an aircon. To do this, just multiply the length of the room by the width. Additionally, if your room is heavily shaded or north-facing, you should reduce the BTU capacity by 10 percent.
If it’s sunny and south-facing, then it’s suggested that you increase the capacity by 10 percent. Generally, the best aircon models for the size of your room should be able to cool it in less than 15 minutes.
Some Additional Measurements
To be a little more precise in your research, some general BTU capacity specs will help you size your aircon according to your room size.
If you’re looking for an aircon for your 100 to 300 sq. feet (9 to 28 sq. m) bedroom, home office or a guest room, then you should pick one with 5,000 to 6,500 BTU. Since the room is small, it’s suggested that you also look for an air conditioner that is as quiet-working as possible.
For bigger rooms, you might need something more powerful. A midsized room of 250 to 400 sq. feet (23 to 37 sq. m) may be suitable for air conditioners with a BTU rate of 7,000 to 8,500. For even larger rooms, 9,800 to 12,500 BTU might suit your needs, especially for an open floor plan.
Other Helpful Tips
Even though the sizing recommendations are usually enough, some other factors also need to be taken into consideration. As mentioned above, the amount of sunlight coming in can affect the amount of ambient heat in the room by up to 10%.
What’s more, having more than two people frequently using the room at one and the same time would generally mean that you may need about 600 BTUs per every extra person.
There are also some room-specific tips. For instance, installing an air conditioner in the kitchen or an area where there are lots of appliances generating some type of heat, you’ll need about 4,000 BTUs more than it’s recommended.
Last but not least, be aware that the size recommendations are valid only for confined spaces. So, if you happen to have two or more rooms without doorways between them, you should combine their size to properly scale the aircon BTU spec.
Some Additional Money-Saving Tips for Your Aircon
Since all governments’ policies strive for more energy-efficient units, it might be a good idea to look for a more recent air conditioner model. Moreover, you should look for a unit with an “Energy Star” label and with a high energy-efficiency ratio, preferably 10 or above. Basically, the higher the EER, the lower the electricity bills.
Essentially, you should keep your aircon unit in perfect condition at all times. This means regular maintenance checks as well as timely repairs if needed. When choosing an air conditioner, look for units with easy-removable filters. This will facilitate the process of regular servicing and eliminate any possibility of adding extra load on the machine.
Employing a timer to schedule when to turn the air conditioner on and off can also help you manage your electricity bills. Some newer models even have a Wi-Fi connection. Using their apps, you can adjust the settings of your aircon unit without having to be near the machine. With your smartphone, you will easily minimize any unnecessary energy consumption of your air conditioner.
Helpful read: Is There Water Coming Out Your Aircon? Find Out Why
To conclude, it’s important to have some basic knowledge of the aircon specs. This will not only make your choice easier, but it will also help you avoid the wrong picks.
BTU, the acronym for British Thermal Unit, is one of the most important specifications that you will have to look for when buying an air conditioner. Ignoring it may lead to frustrations and you may even be forced to change your aircon if you don’t do the math.
Whether you’re looking to furnish your home or office, taking some proper measurements will help you find the best aircon model. For the best performance and efficiency, your aircon’s BTU capacity must correspond to your room size. After all, it’s not about the brand or model, but adequately sizing your unit.