BTU to Tons Converter

Created by Joanna Śmietańska
Reviewed by Wojciech Sas, PhD and Steven Wooding
Last updated: Nov 21, 2022

Use this BTU to tons converter to quickly perform conversion from BTU to tons of refrigeration. Different heating and cooling devices have power in either BTU (British thermal units) or tons of refrigeration. The BTU-to-ton conversion is very easy if you know how many BTUs are in a ton. Read more to find out:

  • What is a BTU?
  • How to convert BTU to tons of refrigeration.
  • How to calculate tons of refrigeration from BTUs.
  • How to swap watts to BTU.

What does BTU stand for?

The BTU per hour (or Btu/h) means British thermal units per hour and represents a unit of heat in the US customary unit system. One BTU corresponds to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. One BTU/h is equal to 1 BTU being output in an hour.

Although we usually express power in watts in the SI system, Btu/h is still used for heating and cooling systems, mainly for air conditioning. You can quickly calculate how many BTUs your air conditioner needs in our air conditioner room size calculator.

What is a ton of refrigeration?

A ton of refrigeration or refrigeration ton (symbol: TR or TOR) is another unit of power. One ton of refrigeration is equal to heat transfer which resulted in the consumption of one ton (or 2000 lb) of pure ice at 0 °C (32 °F) per day.

In the USA, the thermal capacity of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment is often specified in tons of refrigeration. However, manufacturers also often provide the capacity in BTU/h, especially when specifying the capacity of smaller devices.

💡 Wait, why ice? A ton of refrigeration was introduced around the 1880s when large blocks of ice were the way to cool homes and businesses. As the ice melted, it absorbed heat from the room, which is similar to the way modern air conditioners work. The ice itself did not produce cool air but removed hot air from the room.

How to do BTU to ton conversion?

1 BTU is equal to 8.33333×105\small 8.33333 × 10^{-5} refrigeration tons. Therefore, if you want to convert BTU to tons simply multiply the number of BTU by 8.33333×105\small 8.33333 × 10^{-5} and you will obtain a corresponding number of refrigeration tons.

Tons=BTU/h×8.33333×105\small{\text{Tons} = \text{BTU/h}\times 8.33333\times 10^{-5}}

For example, if you have 50 Btu/h:

50 Btu/h=50×8.33333 ⁣× ⁣105=0.0041666667 TR\small \begin{split} \rm 50\ Btu/h &= 50 \times 8.33333\!\times\!10^{-5}\\ &= 0.0041666667\ \rm TR \end{split}

If you are curious about how to convert between different power units, check out our power converter.

How many BTU in a ton?

Let's ask the opposite question: how many BTUs are in a 1 refrigeration ton? One ton of refrigeration is equal to 12,000 BTUs.

BTUs=Tons×12,000\text{BTUs} = \text{Tons}\times \text{12,000}

Therefore, for example, if you have 1.5 refrigeration tons just enter the value of 1.5 to convert BTUs to tons calculator and you will get 18,000 BTU/h.

1.5 × 12,000 = 18,000 BTU/h

How to convert watts to BTU?

Watt is a SI unit for power, where 1 watt is equivalent to 3.412142 Btu/h. To convert from watts to BTUs, use the formula below:

BTUs=watts×3.412142\text{BTUs} = \text{watts}\times 3.412142

How to use BTU to tons converter?

You can use this simple calculator in several ways:

  • Enter BTU per hour of your device;
  • Input the number of watts of energy consumed by your appliance; or
  • Provide the value of tons of refrigeration.

You only need to know one value – type it in the appropriate field, and the BTU to tons converter will quickly return the other two quantities.


How BTUs and tonnage are linked?

One ton of refrigeration is roughly the same as 12,000 BTUs per hour. That means a 1.5-ton air conditioner has an 18,000 BTU/h cooling capacity because 12,000 × 1.5 = 18,000. A 2-ton device has 24,000 BTU; a 2.5-ton unit has 30,000 BTU, and so on.

How many tons is 30,000 BTU?

2.5 tons. You need to divide the number of BTUs by 12,000. You will see that it's 2.5 refrigeration tons and the equivalent of 8.7921 kW of power.

What if I want to convert BTU to kWh?

One BTU is approximately 0.000293 kilowatt-hours. To convert BTU to kWh:

  1. Take your BTU and multiply it by 0.000293.

  2. Multiply by the air-conditioner operating time in hours.

  3. Let's say that you have a 12,000 BTU air conditioner running for 6 hours per day. It will use 3.517 kilowatts of energy per hour and 6 hours × 3.517 kilowatts = 21.102 kilowatt-hours per day.

What are BTUs in air conditioning?

It means how much energy your air conditioner is using to remove heat from your home.

If your air conditioner has 9,000 BTUs, that means it’s absorbing 9,000 British thermal units of heat each hour and moving it outside. You also need to know the size of your room and sunlight exposure.

Joanna Śmietańska
Tons of refrigeration
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