How to Convert BTU to Metric

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Many appliances still list their specifications in terms of British thermal units (BTUs) per hour, a traditional unit of power. A BTU per hour is the energy required to raise the temperature of a pound of water one degree Fahrenheit over the course of one hour. The metric system, however, computes energy in terms of watts. A watt is the rate of power for a circuit where one volt of electromotive force drives one ampere of current.

  • Multiply the number of BTUs the appliance moves per hour by 1,055, which is the number of joules in one BTU. For instance, if a unit moves 24,000 BTUs each hour, calculate 24,000 x 1,055 = 25,320,000 joules per hour.

  • Divide this answer by 3,600, which is the number of seconds in an hour. So you would calculate 25,320,000 / 3,600 = 7,033.33 joules per second = 7,033.33 watts.

  • Divide the amount in Step 2 by 1,000 to convert it to kilowatts if the result is greater than a thousand. In the example, you would have 7,033.33 / 1,000 = approximately 7 kilowatts.

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