Is 5000 BTU Good Enough For Portable ACs?

As the weather heats up again, our thoughts often turn to investing in an air conditioning unit. But living here in the UK there’s little point going to the expense and trouble of installing a permanent A/C unit.

It would probably spend more than eight months of the year doing nothing. Which means it makes sense to invest in a portable air conditioning unit.

You then need to know which size portable A/C will be good enough for your home. And this is where it can get confusing because there are so many portable A/Cs available.

In this article we look at the 5000 BTU portable A/Cs and answer all of the relevant and pertinent questions you’ll need to know before buying.

What Does 5000 BTU Mean?

Let’s start with the obvious first question which is what exactly does 5000 BTU actually mean? BTU are the initials for “British Thermal Units” which is the way of measuring heat content in fuels and energy sources. 

It is the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of liquid by 1 degree Fahrenheit. When it comes to A/Cs it’s used to measure the amount of heat removed from the room.

1 BTU is approximately equal to the amount of energy that comes from a burning match.

The 5000, that’s the number of BTUs of that particular portable A/C.

How Many Square Feet Does 5000 BTU Cover?

According to the USA’s EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), you need 20 BTUs of cooling output per square foot of room. 

This would mean a 5000 BTU portable A/C would cover a room of 250 square feet.

This all sounds great, but unless you know the square footage of your room, it means nothing.

How To Work Out The Square Footage Of Your Room

There’s a simple equation that will help you work out the square footage of your room which is: 

L x W x H x 5 = BTUs where L=Length, W=Width and H=Height. 

So all you need to do is multiply the length, width and height of your room then multiply by 5 to work out exactly which size portable A/C you need. 

This gives you a fair size room for example a 12 ft long, 10 ft wide room with a height of 8ft will typically need a 5000 BTU portable A/C. This is because 12ftX 10ft X 8ft X 5 = 4800 BTU

SEE ALSO: Best Portable Air Conditioners (top UK aircon units reviewed)

Is 5000 BTU Enough For A Small Room?

The thing with portable A/C s is, it’s not just the size of the room that needs to be considered when trying to determine which size you need. You will need to take into account;

  • Whether the room gets direct sunlight
  • How many people use the room at one time
  • Whether there are any heat sources in the room (stoves, ovens, TVs etc all generate heat).

All of these factors will make a difference to the overall performance of the A/C unit. They all add to the number of BTUs needed;

  • Direct sunlight adds 10%
  • Any people over 2 adds 1000 BTUs per person
  • Kitchens will need an extra 4000 BTUs above the room’s dimensions

As you can see, although there are a few scientific principles involved, installing a portable A/C is not an exact science. There are always going to be one or two variables.

So assuming that the 12 X 10 X 8 room only gets indirect light, never has more than two people in it and doesn’t have any large heat source a 5000 BTU portable A/C will be enough for that room.

However, to prevent the unit from having to work too hard, we’d recommend that a 5000 BTU A/C should only be considered good enough for a maximum size room of 150 square feet. This will ensure the A/C can easily maintain a constant temperature without causing excess strain on the internal components of the unit.

Is 5000 BTU Enough For A Large Room?

It depends on your definition of “large”, and it all depends on the square footage of the room. As we said earlier, a 5000 BTU portable A/C will be enough for a room of up to 250 square feet if there are no other demands on the A/C from environmental or internal heat sources.

If you consider a room of 250 square feet to be large, then 5000 BTU will be enough. However, if you consider a 250 square foot room to be small, then a 5000 BTU portable A/C will not be enough.

What Happens If You Use A Portable A/C With Too Few BTUs?

The first problem you would encounter if you tried to run a portable A/C that had an insufficient number of BTUs, would be the unit would either be running constantly or turning off and on again frequently. This would lead to higher energy bills.

Added to which, if the A/C is running constantly, it is likely to need more in the way of maintenance and it would be more likely to break down.

Is 5000 BTU Enough For A Living Room?

This is where things start getting interesting, or confusing depending on how you look at it. If you have a number of electrical appliances in your living room, things like; TVs, PCs or anything that produces any form of heat. 

They will have to be added to the required BTUs needed to cool the room. So even if your living room is 250 square feet or less, the extra heat produced by those electrical appliances could push your BTU requirement up to a larger unit.

You will also need to take into account; the sunlight and how many people are using the room at the same time.

Is 5000 BTU Enough For A Bedroom?

On average, we have less electrical appliances in a bedroom than in a living room. Most of us have rooms dedicated for different compartments of our life. Which usually means the bedroom is where we sleep and not typically where we use a PC, laptop or TV.

Added to which most people sleep during the hours of darkness and often with the curtains closed. However, you will still need to take the overall size of the room into account. 

This means as long as the rooms square footage is less than 250 square feet a 5000 BTU portable A/C will suffice.

Of course if you live in a bedsit, or you are in a houseshare and you spend most of your time in your bedroom, you could need a larger A/C unit. Especially if you work in your bedroom on a PC or laptop or watch TV.

Is 5000 BTU Too Much For A Bedroom?

It is hard to imagine a bedroom so small that a 5000 BTU portable A/C could be too big. Whilst it’s not impossible, it is highly unlikely but it does lead onto an interesting point about overpowered A/C units.

The Problem With Excessive BTUs

When calculating exactly which size portable A/C you need, we told you to add extra for certain factors. Extra people, direct sunlight and heat sources for example all bump up the required BTUs to efficiently cool the room.

However, getting an A/C unit that’s excessively over the needs of a particular room can cause problems. Let’s say you have a room with an area of 150 square feet and you installed a portable A/C with a 12000 BTU rating.

The result would be that the room would cool very quickly which, on the surface, is great. But if the room cools down too quickly, it leaves excess humidity in the room which could cause your room to become damp.

Then there’s the amount of energy used, using a higher than necessary portable A/C will mean using extra energy.  Which leads nicely into the next point.

How Many Watts Is 5000 BTU?

So taking average ratings, a 1000 BTU portable air conditioner will use an average of 100 watts or 0.10 kilowatts per hour. 

Which means a portable air conditioner with a 5000 BTU rating will use an average of 450 watts or 0.45 kilowatts.

How Much Will It Cost To Run A 5000 BTU Portable A/C?

Running a 5000 BTU portable air conditioner will cost around 15.5 pence per hour at the current rate of 34p per unit of electricity. We arrived at this figure by multiplying the amount of kilowatts by the cost per unit of electricity.

Other Factors To Consider

When looking for a portable A/C you should choose a model that has “eco-settings”. These allow you to achieve a balance between energy costs and keeping cool.

Then there’s the positioning of the A/C unit. It will obviously need to be placed close to a window. But to save it working too hard, the unit should not be placed close to a TV or any other appliance that outputs heat.

As long as the A/C can detect heat, it will continue working. So unless you want unnecessarily high energy bills, keep the A/C away from any heat sources.

SEE ALSO:

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a 5000 BTU portable A/C be sufficient for a small room?

A 5000 BTU portable A/C is the smallest unit you can buy and is usually enough for a small room of between 150 to 250 square feet.

Will a 5000 BTU portable A/C be too cold for a bedroom?

Whether a 5000 BTU portable A/C is too cold for a bedroom depends on the size of the bedroom. A 5000 BTU portable A/C is powerful enough to cool a room of between 150 to 250 square feet.

What happens if you put a small AC in a big room?

If you were to put a small, under powered portable A/C into a big room, the A/C would have to be running constantly. Which would not only cost more to run in terms of electricity costs, but it would also cost more in maintenance costs. Plus the unit would be more prone to break down if it was being run continuously.

How many watts does a 5000 BTU AC use?

The simplest way to calculate the wattage of a portable A/C is to divide the BTUs by 10 which would give an average 5000 BTU portable A/C a wattage of 500 watts.

Is a 5000 BTU portable AirCon enough for a lounge?

Whether a 500 BTU portable A/C is enough for a elounge depends on the size of the room, the amount of people using the room at one time and how many sources of heat (like sunlight, TVs, PCs laptops etc) are in the room.

What size room does a 5000 BTU portable AC work best in?

The EPA says you need 20 BTUs of cooling power per square foot of room. Which means a 5000 BTU portable A/C would cover a room with an area of up to 250 square feet.

What is the price of running a 5000 BTU portable A/C?

At the current cost of electricity in the UK of 34p per unit, it would cost an average of 15.5p per hour to run a 5000 BTU portable A/C. We arrived at this figure by multiplying the kilowatts by the unit price of electricity.

What does the term 5000 BTU mean?

BTU are the initials for “British Thermal Units” which is the way of measuring the heat content in fuel and energy sources. One BTU is the amount of heat needed to raise 1 pound of liquid by 1 degree Fahrenheit. In air conditioners BTUs are used to measure the amount of heat removed from the room. 1 BTU is roughly the same amount of energy as a burning match. Which means 5000 BTUs is the same approximate amount of energy as 5000 burning matches.

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