Measuring in BTU?


On very rare cases we come across an electronic appliance that has the BTU rating on its specifications. BTU is the acronym for British Thermal Unit. It is a measure of heat or thermal energy. Strangely, the British Thermal Unit is not used in the Great Britain any longer and is considered as a non metric measurement. There are very few countries that even consider the BTU measurement and even those that do, there is a disagreement as to the formula that is used to arrive at the BTU equation. The BTU is mostly used in power, steam generation and air conditioning industries.


How is BTU related to heat?

One BTU is the equivalent of 252 heat calories. It is the amount of energy required to raise the Temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. People of North America used the BTU as a measure of heat value or energy content of fuels. BTU is also used to describe the power of heating and cooling systems such as the refrigerator or the furnace. When buying a heating or a cooling system, the BTU capacity stated is the unit’s input or the output. The input BTU refers to the fuel used up and the output BTU points to the heat or cooling generated. In the world of motor sports the BTU is used to compare the energy content of different fuels.


How much is one BTU practically?

One BTU is not much, it is the amount of energy in the tip of a match stick. BTU is the equivalent of 0.25 of a food calorie. The amount of energy in a sandwich is about 1250 BTU and one kilowatt hour of electricity is equivalent to 3412 BTU. A gallon of gasoline contains about 125,000 BTU, and 2000 lbs of coal contains about 20 million BTU. Since the BTU is small, energy is measured in thousands or even millions of BTU. For huge populations the measuring unit is a quadrillion BTU put together, this is referred to as a Quad. A quadrillion is equal to 10^15. The SI unit for Heat is now Joule, which is the metric equivalent for a BTU.


What is MBTU?

MBTU refers to one thousand BTU. In this case ‘M’ refers to the Roman numeral ‘M’. It is not to be confused with the SI value of M, which is 10^6. To represent one million BTU, many organizations and engineers use MMBTU.