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How Can You Benefit from Your Portable AC's BTU Capacity?
Global warming may very well not be a hoax considering the fact that the global climate is going towards extremes. While the summers are getting hotter and hotter, the winters are cold as ever. It doesn't matter if you're at the office or in your home, the heat is getting unbearable and will this will continue for the next couple of month.
However, if you have an air conditioner in your home, especially a portable one, then heat waves may be a less of a concern, after getting the pool cleaned up of course.
Benefits of Portable ACs
While traditional air conditioners are becoming smarter with new technology, portable ACs can provide you with many benefits that may just exceed your expectations, which include:
- Practicality - Portable ACs are the ideal cooling systems if you live in a small home or on rent. Its compact size along with temporary installation features makes it the most practical cooling system yet.
- Portability - Portable ACs are compact in size and equipped with caster wheels that make them easy to carry around just about anywhere. You can fit one in the trunk of your car if you're traveling and use it wherever you make a stop. They're lightweight and quite easy to carry around compared to window ACs.
- Efficiency - Portable air conditioners are reliable and provide adequate cooling. They are generally equipped with dehumidifiers. That means you're getting the power of two units in a compact and efficient one.
- Affordability - Portable air conditioners are cost effective and very affordable compared to traditional ACs. They are energy efficient and can save you hundreds of dollars on your energy bills every year. You don't have to worry about installation costs as well because they don't need permanent installation. And with new models coming out every year, you can expect to get a portable AC for an amazing price today.
- Convenience - The latest portable ACs come with remote controls, self timers, air purifiers, and fan speed, drainage tank and what not. All these features are maintained in one single unit. In other words, you have a convenient air conditioner that has most of the capabilities of a central AC unit. You don't have to worry about getting a hole in your walls either to operate your portable AC!
As you can see, portable ACs can provide you with many advantages, especially during the summer. For example, if you are having a backyard barbeque, then you can place your portable AC in your garage to keep the guests cool. If you are having a pool party, you can keep the portable AC besides the pool chairs to relax after a dip in the pool.
There are many practicalities when it comes to portable ACs. However, there are things you must consider to get the most out of your unit. The more you understand how your air conditioner works, the more you know about its consumption.
How many watts your AC has is not a direct indicator of how cool it can keep an area. For that, you must know what British Thermal Unit (BTU) is.
What Is BTU?
A BTU is a measure of thermal energy, or heat energy in simple words. When we say one BTU, it actually refers to the amount of energy required to raise 1 pound of water temperature by 1 Fahrenheit. BTU is employed in the US and other countries to rate the heat output of appliances, and mostly air conditioners.
The amount of heat need to increase the temperature of water by 1 Fahrenheit can depend on the current temperature of water. Though there is no universal agreement on this, there are variations of it in different context around the world. Here in the United States, the starting temperature used is generally 59 Fahrenheit.
In this context:
- 1 BTU is equivalent to 1,054.35 to 1,059.67 joules.
- But thermal (heat) energy is generally measured in calories
- Therefore, BTU is equal to 252 calories
- Interms of power, 1 BTU is around 0.293 watts per hour.
One thing to note is that BTU is generally shown in "thousands" and more values on appliances.
Now that we know what BTU is and how it is significant to your air conditioner, it's time you know how BTU capacity can benefit your portable ACs.
Know the BTU for a Room
Air conditioners are typically rated on the ability of rooming heat from an area. Knowing the power needed to make your air conditioner operate is one thing, but knowing its cooling power is quite another.
Knowing the BTU for your room size is very important before actually buying a portable AC. When you get an AC that has a high BTU rating, even for your room, then chances are it may waste most of the cooling energy before shutting off.
On the other hand, if the AC you purchased has a low BTU rating for your room, then the AC will consume more power to make sure that your room is cool, which will only add to your energy bills.
There are people who have bought portable ACs only to find out later that their energy bills have remained more or less the same, despite removing their central air conditioning unit. Hence, it is advisable to first determine the BTU for your room before purchasing a portable AC.
- You can calculate how much power your AC is consuming by checking the amperage, watts, and voltage. On the other hand, the cooling and heating power of ACs is calculated by BTU, which is generally available on the air conditioner with all the other information.
- The higher the BTUnumbers are the more cooling power your air conditioner has. Hence, this is why many people consider buying an air conditioner with higher BTU rating.
- When you purchase a portable AC with the highest available BTU rating, chances are that your AC may not work efficiently. Why? You didn't take the BTU for a room into account.
Calculating the BTU for Room Size
One of the best ways of measuring the BTU of your room is by multiplying its length, breadth, and height. This along with other factors like the number of windows in your room, whether they are insulated or not, whether your room has a carpet, and much more come into play. Hence, when you calculate the BTU for your room size, you must buy a portable AC slightly over that number. Here is a simple guide of how much BTU you need to cool certain room sizes:
- 5,000 BTUs can cool approximately 150 sq. ft. room
- 8,000 BTUs can cool approximately 350 sq. ft. room
- 10,000 BTUs can cool approximately 450 sq. ft. room
- 12,000 BTUs can cool approximately 550 sq. ft. room
- 14,000 BTUs can cool approximately 700 sq. ft. room
Calculating the Heating and Cooling
In science we learned that different materials have their own specific heat. Hence, raising the temperature of a substance will not only depend on the energy of the source of heat. Heaters are generally rated by BTUs per hour.
To calculate the energy required to heat your room to a certain amount would require you to know:
- The specific heat of air
- The volume of your room
- The weight of the air is.
Yes, this is actually getting quite complicated.
What makes matters worse is that the value will definitely vary depending on what the initial temperature was, the pressure, and the humidity. However, there are online calculators that can help you determine the cooling or heating requirements of your room.
The guideline mentioned above is an ideal example of how many BTUs are needed to cool a certain space. Of course, when you go to buy a portable AC, you will have to buy one with a higher BTU value than the one required for cooling or heating your room.
How to Make Best Use of BTU Capacity
The best portable air conditioners are not just performance oriented, but they're energy efficient as well. However, you have to consider the BTU capacity of your portable AC, even if you are moving it regularly. For example, if you live in a small home, you can get a portable AC with low BTU rating. But if you have a portable AC that you use on different locations, then you must have a normal to high BTU rating on your AC. Air conditioners are responsible for removing heat and humidity from a space. If you don't have a unit that is properly sized, then you are compromising both these factors.
When you have made up your mind that you want a portable high efficiency air conditioner, you must consider the following things:
- Reduce the BTU capacity by 10% on rooms that are heavily shaded or have minimum sunlight penetration.
- Increase the BTU capacity by 10% in rooms that get sunny.
- Increase the capacity by 4,000 BTUs if you are going to place the portable AC in the kitchen.
- Increase the capacity by 600 BTUs if there are over two people living in the room or space.
Other Factors to Consider
Around 40% of our energy bills comprise of the heating and cooling systems in our home. This is a significant number but it can be reduced efficiently with some simple tips and tricks. Since you already know what the BTU ratings are, you will likely buy a portable air conditioner that is suitable for your property. But there are other things you can tweak in your home to make sure your energy bills reduce over the years.
- Keep all the windows and doors closed. When windows and doors are open and the AC is operating, the average temperature of the room will fall. In other words, your portable AC will consume more energy to maintain the temperature that you have set. This will in return increase your energy bills. Improper use of AC can result in significant energy bills. On the other hand, smart use of AC can save you a fortune in the long term.
- Regular maintenance. Make sure to get maintenance and service of your air conditioners done at least once every year, especially during the summer. Inadequate maintenance can cause wear and tear in the AC components, which as a result will make it faulty. It's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to ACs.
- Clean the filters. The filters in your air conditioner are responsible for removing dust and providing you with clean, cooled air. Make sure you clean the filters once every month and get them changed when their lifespan is over. A cleaned filter will deliver better cooling than a dirty one.
- Whenever you're away from home or it's the late hours of the night, increase the thermostat. This will stop your unit from operating excessively, and will keep your energy bills lower. This of course applies more to central and traditional air conditioners, as you won't be keeping your portable AC running while you're away from home.
- Do get some ceiling fans for your home. For the longest time, people in the US and even the UK have avoided having ceiling fans in their homes because they didn't suit their decor. However, you can get ceiling fans today in different designs and styles that can suit your existing home look or the look that you are going for.
- Ceiling fans are a great addition for any home in keeping the air moving. In other words, if you keep your portable air conditioner in part of the room and turn the ceiling fans on, then the whole room will be ambient and cool.
- Ceiling fans are highly cost efficient and don't cost a lot either. In fact, you can get two ceiling fans for a lesser price than a portable AC. If you install ceiling fans around your house, you can keep the overall temperature down by 4 to 6 degrees.