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When shopping for an AC unit, you ought to check the specifications, most importantly its cooling power, which is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU). But what BTU is right for your room size? What room size will a 5000 BTU AC be suitable for, for instance?
A 5000 BTU air conditioner is suitable for cooling a room that’s 100-150 sq. ft. If placed in a bigger room, it will result in energy inefficiency because the AC will run for longer to cool the room. On the upper scale, a 12,000 BTU AC is good for a 450-550 sq. ft room.
If you place your AC in a room thatâ€™s too small for its BTU sizing, it’ll result in the AC cooling the room too quickly and shutting down before completely getting rid of humid air. The on-and-off cycle will lead to energy inefficiency. Conversely, installing an AC in a room thatâ€™s too large for its cooling power will result in energy inefficiency or the AC not cooling the room, as the AC will have to run for longer to meet the roomâ€™s cooling needs.
If your room measures between 100 and 150 sq. ft, a good quality AC unit such as the Frigidaire 5,000 BTU 115V Mini-Compact Air Conditioner will cool the room effectively without wasting energy. If you prefer a portable air conditioner instead, a great alternative I’d recommend is the MIDEA MAP08R1CWT 3-in-1 Portable AC.
What room size will a 5000 BTU air conditioner cool?
The cooling power of an AC is measured in BTUs, which is an acronym for British Thermal Units. Therefore, the more the BTU measurement, the higher its cooling capacity. Ideally, ACs with higher BTUs are designed for larger rooms. Conversely, ACs with smaller BTU measurements (like the 5000 BTU AC) are suited for smaller rooms.
As per fundamental industry guidelines, a 5000 BTU AC can efficiently cool a room that measures between 100-150 square feet. Still- depending on other factors such as the types of room and the number of regular room occupants- you can efficiently use a 5000 BTU AC in a room thatâ€™s slightly larger than 150 square feet (or slightly smaller than 100 square feet).
How to Determine the AC Size for Your Room
A good AC is one that can efficiently cool a room in no more than 15 minutes. Ideally, it takes about 20 BTUs to efficiently cool down every square foot. Therefore- to come up with the basic AC size for your room, you should calculate the roomâ€™s size by multiplying its length by its width; and then multiplying the result by 20.
For instance for a room that measures 20 feet wide and 30 feet long, the fundamental BTU rating can be calculated as follows:
(Length x width) x 20 BTUs
= (30 x 20) x 20 = 12, 000 BTUs
Therefore, it would take a 12,000 BTU AC to efficiently cool down a room of this size. However, this sizing should be adjusted depending on the following factors:
- How much sunlight exposure the room gets
- The number of people that regularly use the room
- Type of room.
For instance, kitchen air is typically hotter and more humid and such a room would require an AC with more cooling power/higher BTU capacity.
Here’s a video guide on how to calculate the AC BTU for your room size:
BTU and Room Size Guide (Table)
|Room Size (square feet)||AC BTUs/hour|
|100 – 150||5, 000|
|150 – 250||6, 000|
|250 – 300||7, 000|
|300 – 350||8, 000|
|350 – 400||9, 000|
|400 – 450||10, 000|
|450 – 550||12, 000|
|550 – 700||14, 000|
|700 – 1000||18, 000|
|1000 – 1200||21, 000|
|1200 – 1400||23, 000|
|1400 – 1500||24, 000|
|1500 – 2000||30, 000|
|2000 – 2500||34, 000|
As earlier mentioned, the figures above should only act as a fundamental guideline for picking the right AC size for your room. You still have to adjust your calculations, since there are other factors apart from room size that also determine how much cooling power youâ€™ll need.
What determines the AC size to choose
Each of these additional considerations are discussed in detail below:
A room that receives a good supply of daily sunlight will logically be warmer, hence reduced cooling needs. Conversely, a room that receives minimal sunlight exposure will require an AC with more cooling power due to relatively cooler air circulating in it. To gauge how much sunlight your room is exposed to, check the sizes of the windows and doorways.
Larger windows and doorways are pointers towards higher sunlight exposure; hence the need to increase the BTU sizing by at least 10% if this is the case. Conversely, smaller windows and doorways let in less light leading to cooler rooms. If this is the case, reduce the BTU sizing by at least 10%
The Number of Room Occupants
The basic figures in the table above apply for a room thatâ€™s regularly occupied by no more than two people. Therefore, for every extra person that regularly occupies the room, you should increase the BTU measurement by at least 20%.
In hot and humid climates, more cooling power is needed to efficiently cool a similar-sized room in a cool region. Therefore, if you reside in an area with this type of climates, you should consider increasing your BTU size by at least 10%.
The Ceiling Height
The figures in the table above apply to a room with a standard ceiling height of eight feet. However, if your room measures 10 feet from floor to ceiling, consider adding 10% to your total BTU sizing from the table.
Is 5000 BTU enough for a living room?
There is no definite answer to this question, as living room sizes vary from home to home. However, the typical American bungalow living room measures significantly more than 150 square feet, which is the basic threshold for a 5000 BTU AC.
How much is a 5000 BTU air conditioner cost?
Since an ACâ€™s cost is usually determined by its cooling capacity and wattage, you can expect a 5000 BTU AC to be relatively cheap, being that itâ€™s the lowest AC size thatâ€™s commercially available. A 5000 BTU AC will cost you anywhere between 40-50 dollars. And thatâ€™s not all, you should expect to spend an additional 43-dollars in average for yearly running expenses for your 5000 BTU AC.
- North Carolina State Extension: HVAC (Heating and Cooling Systems)
- The US Department of Energy: Guide to Home Heating and Cooling
- John A Dutton, PennState University: Air Conditioner Efficiency