Aircon BTU: What you need to know


Looking for new air conditioning units for your home or office?

If the sales rep you approached has been rattling non-stop about aircon BTU, but you have no clue what it is, then this is the article for you. Before you commit hundreds of dollars extra to an oversized aircon unit, you should read on to know what BTU is right for you.


what is btu?

BTU = British Thermal Units. It represents the cooling capacity of the aircon unit, measured per hour. So loosely speaking, a higher BTU unit can cool a larger amount of air each hour.


The reality of aircon btu

When it comes to BTU, bigger isn't always better! As stated in

"Air conditioners remove both heat and humidity from the air. If the unit is too large, it will cool the room, before it has a chance to remove the humidity. The result will be a room that's not very comfortable to spend time in. That cool moist air will make the room feel damp and clammy."

On the other hand, if the unit is too small, the room may never reach your desired temperature and coolness. This would mean the unit is working at full load all the time, which incurs huge electrical bills and zero comfort.

For your compressor/condenser, the BTU is usually close to the sum of the BTU of all the fan coil units. However, a smaller total cooling capacity may be sufficient if all the room units are not turned on at the same time.


the juicy info

Do note that in Singapore, the electricity consumption of most (if not all) aircon units have been reduced to meet NEA efficiency standards. Thus the actual BTU performance would not be the 9000, 12000, 18000 BTU/hr etc. as promoted usually. To find the actual BTU, check the actual kW specifications. 1 kW = 3412 BTU/hr. Alternatively, to convert HP to BTU or vice-versa, a rough estimate is 1 HP = 9000 BTU/hr.

For standard HDB houses, you can refer to this table below:

Area (SQ FT)Area (SQ M)BTU Capacity Recommended
15014 9,000
*Sourced & adapted from e2 Singapore.

  • If the room is heavily shaded, reduce capacity by 10 percent.
  • If the room is very sunny, increase capacity by 10 percent.
  • If more than two people regularly occupy the room, add 600 BTUs for each additional person.
  • If the unit is used in a kitchen, increase capacity by 4,000 BTUs.
  • Consider where you install the unit. If you are mounting an air conditioner near the corner of a room, look for a unit that can send the airflow in the right direction.

If you stay in large private properties or want a better estimate, you can follow the steps in Air Conditioning Systems' website.


sharing is caring

That's it about aircon BTU! Share your newfound knowledge with others or leave any feedback or questions below. Now that you know more about BTU, you can request for price quotes from multiple companies with your BTU needs.

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