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BTU vs Watts: What’s the Difference and How to Convert Them

BTU vs Watts

BTU and watts are two measurement units often used in the HVAC industry to describe a system’s heating or cooling capacity. However, many people may need to learn what they mean, how they differ, and how to convert them. This blog post will explain the difference between BTU and watts and how to convert them quickly and accurately. We will also provide valuable tools and tables to help you find the best cheap HVAC filters for your home. Read on to learn more about BTU vs watts and how they relate to data center cooling.

What is BTU (British Thermal Unit)?

BTU, or British thermal unit, is a unit measuring heat energy commonly used in heating and cooling systems. It gauges the energy required to change the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. This unit is crucial for assessing the heating and cooling capacity of devices like air conditioners, furnaces, and heaters. Higher BTU ratings signify more powerful systems suitable for larger spaces. 

Factors like space size, insulation, and location must be considered when determining BTU requirements. A solid understanding of BTU is vital for informed decisions about professionals’ and homeowners’ heating and cooling needs. For example, a 10,000 BTU furnace can produce 10,000 BTU heat per hour, and a 12,000 BTU air conditioner can remove 12,000 BTU heat per hour.

What is Watt?

A watt is a unit of power in the SI system, symbolized by W. It measures energy consumption, production rate, and work done per unit of time. Named after James Watt, who contributed to the steam engine, it’s used to evaluate energy usage and express power capacities. One watt equals one joule of energy per second, providing a standardized way to measure energy flows for efficiency and conservation. You can read our complete guide on  VAV Vs AHU.

The watt is a crucial measurement for assessing and optimizing energy consumption in a sustainable world, from light bulbs to solar panels to electric vehicles. For example, a 60-watt light bulb can consume 60 watts of electrical power, and a 100-watt fan can deliver 100 watts of mechanical power.

understanding BTU vs Watts Easily

What is the Difference Between BTU and Watt?

The main difference between a BTU and a watt is that a BTU is a unit of heat energy, while a watt is a unit of power. Heat energy is the amount of energy stored or transferred in the form of heat, while power is the rate of energy transfer or work done per unit of time. Therefore, BTU and watt are not directly comparable and need to be converted based on the time factor. Another difference between BTU and Watt is that BTU is a US standard unit, while Watt is a SI unit. Therefore, BTU and watt are widely used in different regions or systems and need to be converted based on the unit conversion factor.

How to Convert BTU to Watt?

To convert BTU to watt, we need to know two things:

  • The time factor: BTU is a unit of heat energy, while watt is a power unit. To accurately measure the power required for HVAC, we convert BTU/h to watts (W) based on a one-hour time period.
  • The unit conversion factor: When converting between BTU/h and W, use the conversion factor 0.29307107, which means one BTU/h equals 0.29307107 W.

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Using these two things, we can convert BTU/h to W by multiplying the BTU/h value by 0.29307107 or by 3.412141633, the reciprocal of 0.29307107. For example, to convert 20,000 BTU/h to W, we can use either of these formulas:

  • 20,000 BTU/h x 0.29307107 = 5,861.42 W
  • 20,000 BTU/h / 3.412141633 = 5,861.42 W

We have made it easier for you to convert BTU/h to W by creating a calculator. Enter the value of BTU/h, and the calculator will provide you with its equivalent in W. Additionally, you can use the converter and conversion tables below to find the equivalent value of BTU/h values in W.

BTU to Watts and Watts to BTU Converter



How do you convert Watt to BTU?

To convert watt to BTU, we need to use the same two things as before:

  • The time factor: We need to specify the time period to compare Watt and BTU. In HVAC, one hour is standard. So, we convert W to BTU/h for meaningful comparison.

  • The unit conversion factor: Watts and BTUs are different units that require a conversion factor. The conversion factor between them is 3.412141633, meaning 1 W equals 3.412141633 BTU/h.

Using these two things, we can convert W to BTU/h by multiplying the W value by 3.412141633 or dividing it by 0.29307107, the reciprocal of 3.412141633. For example, to convert 5,000 W to BTU/h, we can use either of these formulas:

  • 5,000 W x 3.412141633 = 17,060.71 BTU/h
  • 5,000 W / 0.29307107 = 17,060.71 BTU/h

How Do Watts and BTUs Relate to Data Center Cooling?

To determine the cooling requirements for your data system, you need to consider both watts and BTUs. Using standard formulas, you can convert watts into BTUs and calculate the required tons of cooling to maintain the ideal temperature of your data center. Follow the steps below to calculate the amount of cooling you need accurately.

  • Voltage x amps = watts
  • Watts x 3.41 = BTUs per hour
  • BTUs per hour / 12,000 = tons of cooling

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Knowing the amount of cooling required is important to prevent overheating your data center system. The tons of cooling numbers can help you with this calculation. For example, if your data center system consumes 100,000 watts of power, you can use the following formula to determine the tons of cooling needed:

  • 100,000 W x 3.41 = 341,000 BTU/h
  • 341,000 BTU/h / 12,000 = 28.42 tons of cooling

To calculate the cooling required for your space, use the BTU-to-watt or watt-to-BTU calculator or consult the conversion tables.

BTU vs Watts – Conclusion

BTU and Watt are two measurement units often used in the HVAC industry to describe a system’s heating or cooling capacity. However, they are not directly comparable and need to be converted based on the time and unit conversion factors. In this blog post, we have explained the meaning and the difference between BTU and Watt and showed you how to convert them efficiently and accurately. We have also provided you with a BTU-to-watt calculator and a watt-to-BTU calculator.

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