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Boiler Capacity Measured in BTUs

What is the capacity of a boiler?

Boiler capacity (or load) measures the power of the boiler and it is measured with British thermal units (or BTUs). Each building or home has a unique BTU requirement. An oversized boiler will run up your energy bills while an undersized boiler will require more maintenance and it will have a shorter lifespan. Properly sizing a boiler depends on a number of factors.

Some of the factors include:

• Square footage of the space

• Geographical location

• Weather/climate

• Existing insulation and ventilation

What is a BTU?

One British thermal unit is the amount of energy needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. When referring to boilers, the term BTU is actually shorthand for BTU per hour (BTU/h). In this case, a BTU measures the amount of heat transferred over time (i.e. each hour).

Output vs. Input

The difference between the input BTU and the output BTU can be used to calculate the efficiency of your boiler. For example, if you have a boiler with 100,000 BTU input with 100,000 BTU output, that means that your boiler system is 100% energy efficient. As the difference between the input and the output becomes greater, the boiler becomes less efficient.

High-efficiency boilers tend to cost more but the higher initial cost will likely be offset by future energy savings. There may also be tax incentives or energy rebates for choosing to install a high-efficiency boiler. Installing a high efficiency gas boiler may also require the installation of a new chimney liner to ensure proper ventilation.

Keep Reading: Boiler Efficiency 101

Calculating for Your Home

In order to calculate the BTU requirement of your home, you first need to calculate the square footage.

1. If you live in hot climate, you should multiply the square footage of your home by 20 to find the approximate BTU requirement.

2. If you live in a moderate or mild climate, you should multiply the square footage of your home by 35 to find the approximate BTU requirement.

3. If you live in a colder climate, you should multiply the square footage of your home by 50 to find the approximate BTU requirement.

Although these guidelines should yield a good approximation, you should always a consult a professional before purchasing a replacement boiler. For example, if your home is well insulated or you live in an extreme climate, you may need to adjust the boiler’s capacity to fit those unique circumstances.

Related: Cost of Boiler Installation

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About the Author

ProMatcher Staff, ProMatcher
Orlando, FL 32803

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