How Many Watts Do 5,000 – 18,000 BTU Air Conditioners Use? (Answered)

We usually choose an air conditioner based on BTU and room size. However, when we’re trying to estimate energy costs, it’s very useful to know how many watts does our particular air conditioner use.

Not knowing how many watts does a 5,000 BTU air conditioner use is actually pretty normal. As far as lowering the air temperature is concerned, you only need to know that it has 5,000 BTU and it’s correctly sized for your room/space. An average 5,000 BTU air conditioner uses 500W of energy running at full capacity.

There are 3 ways how to check how many watts does your air conditioner use:

  1. Check the specification sheet for Watts. You’ll find the power or wattage (in Watts) in the same section as amperage (in Ampers) and voltage (in Volts).
  2. Check the specification sheet for Ampers and Volts. The power is simply calculated by multiplying the number of Ampers with the number of Volts (something like 10A * 120V = 1,200W).
  3. Use BTU and EER rating to calculate how much power does your air conditioner use. You can divide the BTU by EER rating (something like 5,000 BTU / 10 EER = 500W).

Below you find a table of how many watts do different air conditioners – from 5,000 BTU to 18,000 BTU – use.

A rule of thumb to estimate how many watts of energy different air conditioners use is to take the BTU number and divide it by 10. That’s how you can easily estimate that 5,000 BTU AC units use 500W of energy.

How Much Power Do Air Conditioners Use?

The relationship between BTU and power (in watts) of an air conditioner is determined by energy-efficiency EER rating. A good EER rating, for example, is 10. That means that 500W will give us 5,000 BTU of cooling effect. If an air conditioner would have a higher EER rating (12, for example) the 500W would give us 6,000 BTU of cooling effect.

In the table above we’ll assume that the EER rating of all AC units is between 8 and 12. That’s why you’ll see a range for the wattage of air conditioners with same BTU number:

How many watts does a 5000 BTU AC use?417 – 625 W
How many watts does a 6000 BTU AC use?500 – 750 W
How many watts does an 8000 BTU AC use?667 – 1000 W
How many watts does a 10000 BTU AC use?833 – 1250 W
How many watts does a 12000 BTU AC use?1000 – 1500 W
How many watts does a 15000 BTU AC use?1250 – 1875 W
How many watts does an 18000 BTU AC use?1500 – 2250 W

As you can see from the table above, a 12,000 BTU air conditioner can use 1500W (8 EER rating) or 1000W (12 EER rating). In short, having a high energy-efficiency air conditioner with a high EER rating pays off. We have gathered the most energy-efficient portable AC units here.

Best Generators For Air Conditioners

If you don’t have a source of electricity readily available, you’ll most probably need a generator to create about:

  • 500 W for 5,000 BTU AC unit.
  • 1,000 W for 10,000 BTU AC unit.
  • 1,500 W for 15,000 BTU AC unit.

We’ve received a lot of questions about which generators are best for a certain capacity of an air conditioner. Here are some of the generators you can use:

All these generations will cover the basic wattage needed to power your air conditioner.

Cost Of Running A 1,000 W Air Conditioner (Estimate)

High wattage air conditioners cost more to run. For example, a 1000W AC unit spends 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity per hour. 1500W unit, for comparison, spends 1.5 kWh of electricity per hour.

Given that an average price of 1 kWh in the US is $0.1319, you can save quite a bit if you invest in an above-average energy-efficient air conditioner.

An average cost of running a 1000W air conditioner is thus $0.1319 per hour. That translates to about $1 for air conditioning if you run such a unit for 8 hours a day.


8 thoughts on “How Many Watts Do 5,000 – 18,000 BTU Air Conditioners Use? (Answered)”

  1. Im worried about start up watts needed to run my 10000 BTU space cooler and refrigerator start up. How big of a generator do I need?

    • Hello Deidre, you would need a generator that can produce up to 1,500W. Green-Power America GPD1500 1500W would be an excellent choice for that.


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